Friday, 9 May 2014

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.

It seems that the primary function of this sentence is to establish tone, not setting. However, as we may surmise from the cool title, the galaxy has many places to visit and other forms of intelligent life schmooze with. Beginning with us being in space and being insignificant and "unfashionable" foreshadows conflict to come.

The opening page quickly zooms in on Earth before moving on to other funny things like galactic books with titles like Fifty-three more Things to do in Zero Gravity and Where God Went Wrong.

Chapter 1:

The house stood on a slight rise just on the edge of the village.

This sentence would be of epic fail proportions if it wasn't for the ending of the prologue:

It begins with a house.

Actually it is still pretty bad. The first paragraph decides to describe the setting, as if we should care or as if it should have something to do with the plot, as it doesn't since we learn at the end of chapter 1 that the earth has only 12 minutes left. It then goes on to describe Arthur Dent, the weather and how he is spending his Thursday morning, you know: Kettle, plug, fridge, milk, coffee. Yawn. [Author's words, not mine]

First thing said:

"Come off it, Mr. Dent, you can't win you know."

Verdict: Pass (barely)

This gets 2.5 stars on the strength of the prologue, not on the opening of chapter 1, which is a solid fail.

Theodore Moracht

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