I spent the next twenty years or so never quite getting around to reading the book, even though I kept hearing about it relatively consistently from friends who always seemed to think it was the bees knees. I guess I just always had this sneaking suspicion that I'd rather be out back in a pile of leaves than reading the book version of some weird BBC tv show that sucked when I was seven.
I WAS WRONG. I picked up the original paperback recently and blew through all 216 pages in about a weekend's spare time. This book is so funny that I just about couldn't put it down. Don't read it on an airplane, unless you don't mind everyone staring at you because you're the idiot who can't stop laughing out loud at your paperback the entire flight. Seriously.
Absent that possibility, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy ends up being a wickedly sardonic story of Western politics and big business - set in space. And the characters are as cool as Chilly Palmer in Get Shorty. I mean these guys are cool. They take nonchalance to a whole new level.
Talking about this book to someone who hasn't read it is like trying to explain what sex is like to a virgin. It is difficult to communicate the subtlety of the experience, but trust me - it is well worth the effort. It is literally off-the-wall humor that manages to continue to be surprising and hilarious page after page.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has been through many iterations - as a radio series, another radio series, a book, a series of books, stage plays, a computer game, a tv show, and now a movie. I can't vouch for anything but the book. If you are like me, and put off reading it for 20+ years, then
Just stop by your local bookstore and pick up a copy. And if you haven't read it in awhile, read it again. It is such a quick and hilarious read that I may just read it again myself before I see the movie!