The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is truly an epic book, full of commentary on practically everything. You can open it to a random page and find something that’s either interesting and hilarious. (Yes, I have wasted a significant amount of time doing this. What of it?). The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy begins when the Earth is destroyed to make room for a galactic freeway, and Arthur Dent becomes one of the last surviving humans in existence. Arthur is rescued by Ford Prefect, an alien trying to write a book – also called the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – and together they encounter many unfortunate situations along with the galactic president Zaphod Beeblebrox, the only other surviving human Trillian, and a depressed robot. There is so much material to work with that I considered listing 42 of my favorite sections, but I figured that would be too much, so here’s seven:
VOGON POETRY (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
I’m a college student and an English major, so listening to Arthur and Ford trying to fake their way through analyzing poetry is absolutely hilarious, especially since it sometimes feels like I’m doing the same. The Vogon’s apparently produce the third worst poetry in the universe, though, since I am not especially skilled with poetry, I feel I don’t experience the full horror it produces. The tortuous delivery of the poem contains lines like “Ford Prefect…threw one final spasm as the electronic enhancement of the last line caught him full blast across the temples” (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), which is certainly an impressive feat for a poem, I think. Also, Ford protests to being thrown into space by proclaiming that “[he’s] trying to write a book,” (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) which is definitely how I will now attempt to escape dangerous situations.
TOWELS (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
Reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has made me rethink the usefulness of the humble towel. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – the book within the book, not the book , or I guess it’s really both – reminds travelers to always pack a towel and lists off all the reasons why it’s useful, from using it to sail a raft to providing social clout. Perhaps when I attend college classes I should bring a towel with me, just in case. At the least I can use it for back support.
THE GREAT CIRCLING POETS OF ARIUM (The Restaurant at the End of the Universe)
Another poetry-related section speaks of the planet Golgafrincham, where the Great Circling poets of Arium, who throw rocks at passersby and tell poetry about brave princes that include a lot of fairy tale elements. Like practically everything in Hitchhiker’s, the fairy tale isn’t quite as we know them. The princes have arguments about transportation that are usually left out in movies for the sake of making the princes look awesome. It makes me really want adaptions to fairy tales that just demonstrate what happens between scenes.
MATTRESSES (Life, the Universe and Everything)
The planet of Sqornshellous Zeta is full of mattresses, used by the universe to create mattresses of the bed-type, and all these mattresses are named Zem. I feel very sorry for them, because they are hunted and killed so that other beings can sleep on them, but the idea of a living mattress is, to me, simultaneously hilarious and adorable. Trying to picture a mattress flopping along in a swamp is an interesting challenge that comes with questions like “how do mattresses sense things?” and “how do they speak?” Does it make me feel guilty whenever I sleep? Yes. Yes it does. But it’s worth the overwhelming sweetness of Zem and all the new adjectives and verbs that appear to describe them.
MAKING TEA (The Restaurant at the End of the Universe)
I love Arthur Dent because he’s always concerned with the mundane, and the time he accidentally fries the groups’ spaceship trying to make tea is probably one of the best examples. First of all, the fact that all the ship’s machines can speak is excellent, and their aggressively chipper attitude makes them simultaneously lovable and irritating. I’m a bit glad that my kitchen utensils don’t talk because I’m not sure what they would say. Would they talk about food? Ask about my day? Criticize my house guests? I suppose it would depend on the programming. What’s also great about this scene is that it points out that Arthur’s perfectly mundane cup of tea isn’t quite so mundane out in the middle of space, enough so that the entire ship needs to come together to figure out how to make it.
BEING DEAD FOR TAX REASONS (The Restaurant at the End of the Universe)
I suppose we’ve all had conversations that feel one-sided, but when a drunk Ford approaches his old friend, musician Hotblack Desiato at a restaurant, he discovers that he’s spending a year dead for tax reasons. While how this could have happened is a mystery, what’s even more of a mystery is why Desiato would want to spend said year in a restaurant instead of at home in bed, or at least in an armchair. Do restaurants have restorative properties? Who knows?
NUMBERS AND RESTAURANTS (Life, the Universe and Everything)
Speaking of the mystical properties of restaurants, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy also points out that they are also useful for math. Observing phenomena like number of guests, payment strategies, and people’s inability to arrive on time. Perhaps this is why Desiato can stay dead in a restaurant, because of their special number properties. Perhaps it’s because he hasn’t paid his check yet.