The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Series Review

Happy Monday and Labor Day for my American readers.

hitchhikers (test)

This info-graph is a general overview of the series.

The Hitchhiker’s guide has an interesting history beginning as a pitch for a 6 part series called “The Ends of the Earth” where the earth ends at the end of each episode surly many of them end on a stupid Thursday(1).  This idea eventually evolved into what we have here today and then some(2) including the movie adaptation of the first book.

This series has a pretty close place to my heart and I have a pretty long history with it, probably the longest/first bookmance(3) I’ve ever had.  I remember when I was a kid, somewhere around 13-15 years old, my dad gave me the first Hitchhiker’s guide book.

hitchhikers guide to the galaxy book cover

This is the cover art my dad’s copy had. Still my favourite of the versions.  Look at that meaty hand.

It might have been my first literary brush with literary si-fi, I was brought up on Red Dwarf(4) so I was well prepared, and it was good. Really good.

hitchhikers guide to the galaxy book cover3

This is the cover art my best friend in middle school (ages 11-14ish) in school had. Clearly inferior to the original.

My dad had all the rest of the original books up to So Long and Thanks For All the Fish and I ate them all up. I have specific memories of reading these books in school and literally laughing out loud involuntarily in class.  I’m pretty easy to laugh(5) but usually I’m pretty good at restraining my self in public but this book got me several times.  Even on revisits.

hitchhikers guide to the galaxy collection book cover

My first copy of the omni-bus.

Fast forward a few years and I’m at a book store, constantly building my library (sometimes I like to think about the day when I have enough books, that I’ve actually read AND enjoy no cheating with “the entire Steven King collection”, to make a book fort(6)), and I see this almost biblical looking version of the collection which was really nice because it came with a tassel bookmark.  This copy got donated after the first or second library purge(7) and in the last year since getting back into school I’ve begun replacing or obtaining copies of books I remember reading and enjoying but had borrowed from a friend or the library and this series was recommended to me on amazon.

This is my third and most recent re-reading of the series and I’ve had mixed reactions.  At first I was totally pumped to read this thinking I would blow through it in a few weeks but it ended up taking me about two months to read 815 pages +/- 20 pages because they count the title and dedication pages in between each book and most of that was spent trudging through Life, The Universe, and Everything.  However we will get to that in time.  The good news is that this series starts and ends pretty strongly (see info-graph above).

As in Adams style(8), over the next 7 weeks I will present to you:

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Ultimate Review:

A 7 part review in 8 parts

Tune in next week for part II: The actual review for The Hitchhiker’s to the Galaxy the book.

Footnotes:

  1. The Earth is destroyed on a Thursday afternoon several times in the series.
  2. As I learned in researching this article that there has been yet another novel added to the series called “…and another thing.” which, I personally, do not count as cannon and will not likely read the reasons for which will become clear as this series progresses.
  3. If we can have words like “bromance“, which I reluctantly have adopted in specific situations, I’m championing the word “bookmance”.   I’ve submitted a definition to urban dictionary and I might adopt the word for one year for 25$ on wordnik, my favourite dictionary site.  Depends on if urban diction approves.
  4. I have so many fond memories of late night Sunday, kind of like tonight actually (as I write this that is), as a kid with my parents watching the foreign shows on PBS channel nine like Red Dwarf (British) and The Red Green Show (Canadian).  These came on, if I remember right, after the X-Files on Sunday nights.  Sometimes we would order Cecil’s or Imo’s Pizza, St Louis Style pizza, and it was pretty much the best.  I have a lot of television related memories, more the scheduling aspects rather than the shows them selves.  I don’t know, there’s an essay memoir in there. Something in Infinite Jest rattled it loose.  Stay tuned.
  5. I read a snapple facts once “Snapple fact #831: Adults laugh only about 15 to 100 times a day, while six-year-olds laugh an average of 300 times a day.”  and I keep meaning to start a data crunch project on this, I keep track of other things in my journal.  Another thing for the list.
  6. book fort
  7. As a minimalist I have regular purge events where I strip down to bare essentials however in the last major purge I decided to begin building a library rather than holding on to a few prized pieces, however I do prune it regularly.
  8. His series started as a trilogy and remains to be frequently refereed to as a trilogy because humour.

 

 

 

Stream of Consciousness Theatre presents: Minimalism

As usual when Sunday night comes, right about 11pm, I begin thinking (read: panicking) about, “What subject am I going to write about tomorrow?” which usually leads to several several hours of research (read: procrastination rituals) which ranges from chipping away at my night stand book, youtube video essays, and reddit comment threads all in pursuit of the weekly question.

This almost never works. Almost.

Last night I viewed (re-viewed? I can’t remember after a while) an early video essay by the brilliant nerdwriter called “The Diderot Effect”.

The Diderot Effect –  a social phenomenon related to consumer goods that comprises two ideas. The first posits that goods purchased by consumers will be cohesive to their sense of identity, and as a result, will be complementary to one another. The second states that the introduction of a new possession that is deviant from the consumer’s current complementary goods can result in a process of spiraling consumption.

Source: Wikipedia

Being a minimalist, I was chuckling along through the video thinking “you consumer suckers, identifying with the things you own, what are you, new?” and then my ego smacked me across the face when I began thinking more deeply about what minimalism means to me.

Minimalism, for me, has been a reaction to an extreme event.  A very very bad day.   Kind of like the Joker’s monologue explaining his origin in “The Killing Joke”

the killing joke one bad day

Source: The Killing Joke Graphic Novel

It reminded me that I am not free from identifying with my possessions and maybe even more so given the things I’ve chosen to hold onto.

The minimalist as an art movement has been around since Goethe’s sculpture Alter of Good Fortune

However it didn’t take a hold of the literary world until 1913 just before the outbreak of The Great War as a characteristic of the Modernist movement and would remain influential across art mediums into our modern age.  This reduction of all distracting elements in the arts feels like a collective psychological reaction to a world changing at an increasing rate,  in the case of the modernists it was a reaction to a increasingly geo-political hostile environment.  Again in our modern age, in the information age where we’re bombarded with overwhelming amounts of information from our screens.  In an age where everyone has equal access to be heard and the individual is paraded as a hero for being an individual the only way a person can actually get attention is to make extremely precise and minimalistic pieces, the minimal amount of information presented stands as a stark contrast to the confusing array of incoming data.

A fellow wordpress blogger commented on this phenomena

Today, writing seems to be following along the lines of “saying more in fewer words.” The idea of conciseness has entered new levels, and it can be seen in both positive and negative lights. On one hand, the concept could encourage writers to pump their sentences with concise, skillful imagery that does its job well, thereby eliminating unnecessary fluff. After all, a minimalistic approach is rarely a bad one. On the other hand, long, thought-out pieces of writing are discarded more often than not, and great pieces of work are looked over without a second thought. Is the evolution of formatting worth the consequence?

Source: Formatting your Writing: A Matter of Life or Death by Hannah at 2bornot2bwritingtips

Her concern is extremely valid, especially when we consider the “headlines phenomena” we see increasingly in the media where sound bites make or break a politician, convey the importance of a tragic event or not, and my favourite (one I am occasionally guilty of) the reddit titles for articles being taken for face value rather than reading the entire article.  This phenomena is even commented on by today’s xkcd comic “Honey Pyramids”.

I think it’s an important subject to be aware of, something that is never far from my mind, but I’m extremely interested to hear from you.  How do you feel about The Diderot Effect? How guilty of the “headline phenomena” are you? What are your thoughts on the newest minimalism movement?

Please leave a comment below if you have thoughts on the subject and if you liked this post, please share and follow.  For more on the subject of personal minimalism, check out the book “The More of Less: Finding the Life you want Under Everything you Own” by Joshua Becker.