In the first part of the Trilogy of Five (because I absolutely refuse to count Eoin Colfer’s book, And Another Thing as part of the series), The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, we meet Arthur Dent. It is a Thursday morning, and he is a bit hung-over. He had a bit of a shock the previous day when someone came to tell him that his house was going to be demolished the next day to make way for a Bypass. Mr. L. Prosser is the person in charge of demolishing Arthur’s house. They have a verbal sparring session that is quite humorous, where we learn that the plans were on display for the past several months “in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘beware of the Leopard.’”
Ford Prefect is Arthur’s best friend, and we meet him while Arthur and Prosser are arguing. He is an alien from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse, and he has been stuck on the planet Earth for the past 15 years while he has been researching the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He has been posing as an out of work actor, while looking for a way off of the planet. When we meet him, he is takes Arthur to a local pub where he confesses all of this to him, and also tells him that his planet is going to be destroyed. The ultimate irony is that it is to be destroyed for a Hyperspace Bypass. Arthur and Ford escape by hitching a ride on a Vogon ship.
After Ford and Arthur are tortured with a recitation of Vogon poetry, they are ejected from the ship, and saved, quite improbably, by The Heart of Gold, which is piloted by Zaphod Beeblebrox, who is on a mission to find the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything (the answer, of course, being 42).
If you went to see the 2005 movie, you missed out on a lot of the joy of the story, and were subjected to a lot of American humor (sight gags, slap-stick humor, et cetera), but what makes the book, and the original audio program work so wonderfully is the dry wit. You don’t have to be super intelligent to get this book, nor do you have to be a fan of Science Fiction to enjoy it. In fact, all you really need is to just sit back and be prepared have a good time. And be sure to know where your towel is.