Now we’re talking APOCALYPSE! Actually, whether The Hitchhiker’s Guide counts as “post-apocalyptic” is highly debatable, since the Earth is completely destroyed in the first chapter.
But over the course of five books, Earth is destroyed, rebuilt, redestroyed, visited on different timelines, and finally completely and utterly removed from existence entirely (though not enough so, apparently, to stop publishers from wanting to make a sixth book).
What’s more, it’s unique as a post-apocalyptic book in the sense that Arthur Dent is basically caught in a highly civilized post-apocalyptic life. He seldom seems on the verge of starving, on the one hand, though there are numerous direct and bureaucratic attempts on his life.
He’s constantly looking for some sort of normalcy and stability and insignificance, yet he is fated to a life of weirdness and randomity and, yes, significance. He is destined to live an interesting life, in the literary and Chinese sense. Which, perhaps, we all are.
It’s hard to overstate the effect this book had on my writing style. Really. Really terrible, actually. Not that it’s bad when Douglas Adams writes that way, though if you read all five books, you’ll find fewer and fewer of the literary flourishes that make the first book so funny. It’s a highly affected style but it’s a little like riffing your own movie.
The saga’s pedigree is a little odd, too. It started, I believe, as a radio show, that got turned into a book and a sequel, that got turned into a miniseries, that got turned into a text-based adventure game, that got turned into some more books, and a big Hollywood movie.
Outside of the first two books, which make a nice set by themselves, Restaurant at the End of the Universe rounding out the shenanigans in Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy in a relatively satisfying way, the original BBC miniseries is worth watching. It’s not a great series in terms of hilarity, but elements of it are just perfect: Simon Jones as Arthur Dent, David Dixon as Ford Prefect, the graphics for the guide, and the user of Peter Jones as the voice of the book. Oh, and the theme music, which apparently is “Journey of the Sorceror” by The Eagles, of all things.
The recent movie is relatively weak as well, though it has a good cast and a bit of nice set design.
In any event, you know you’re having a bad week when it starts with your home planet being destroyed.
Until next Monday, mutants, stay radiated!