I now blog over at The Eyre Guide! This blog is an archive of my past posts.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sci-Fi Month: Introduction & The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
Hosted by Rinn Reads
I'm not sure if I can trace back my enthusiasm for Science Fiction to a particular book or movie.  I think maybe required reading in school opened me up to Science Fiction as a genre - where I wasn't too enamored with Brave New World or 1984, I absolutely loved A Wrinkle in Time, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and Flowers for Algernon, so luckily I kept wanting to read in the genre.  And SciFi movies like Back to the Future (OMG I LOVE THAT MOVIE) and E.T. (I missed all the Star Wars when I was younger - I know unacceptable) made me love the way Science Fiction can seem so realistic because it's building on the technology we already have.  It doesn't take too much of a leap to imagine the things we might one day have.  And it's also fun to see what we don't have now, that the stories in the past seem to think we would. (Flying cars right?)

I think it's fun to read about tantalizing worlds that seem within our reach and Science Fiction gives us that.  It can also give us a glimpse into human darkness and it can show us what we are capable of, good or bad.  Since it can hold a mirror up to humanity and show us what might happen it's interesting to try to strive for the ideals and avoid the pitfalls.  Or at least interesting to think it's possible we can.

Some of my favorite Science Fiction stories now include Doctor Who, Firefly, and what I'm going to talk about as a feature every Friday this month - all the radio phases of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy "trilogy".

I can't remember which I did first - if I read the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or listened to this radio version, but the radio version is the original version, and in my opinion, the best version of the story.  Even though I really enjoyed the books, TV series and film that came after.  But with the radio version it's so much easier to imagine the wondrous things Douglas Adams details because the voice actors are so wonderful and the editing of the show is so sharp.

There are 5 "phases" of 6 episodes each, so for today's post I'm talking about the Primary Phase - the very first six episodes first broadcast in 1978.  What I love so much about the stories is the irreverent humor.  This show is just so funny!! All the Science Fiction in the story seems to highlight the absurdity - that we might think belongs to humanity, but in this show we realize it is common everywhere.  Everyone is susceptible to their foibles, although the main character - Arthur Dent - is probably the least absurd, though he is made to deal with the nonsense and inconsistency of the universe.  And his level-headed voice is just the perfect way for the listener to explore this universe.

There are so many funny concepts in this first phase - the improbability drive that runs on knowing how improbable an event is, and makes for a great device to get out of a couple sticky situations.  Marvin the Paranoid Android, who is an unfortunate byproduct of Sirius Cybernetics Corp's idea to create robots with Genuine People Personalities, and Marvin was given a personality with depression.  And you feel bad for him, but he's so funny!

I just love that this series starts off with some building constructors eager to raze his house to the ground to make way for a new bypass, but Arthur is not having it.  Even though he should make way for progress.  However, when the alien Vogons come to destroy the planet Earth for the exact same reason - it doesn't seem like progress is that important after all.  The story moves on with more clever twists and turns until a rather bleak ending where Arthur and his friend Ford is stuck on prehistoric Earth with some very idiotic people.  It's a sly dig at the real reason why people can be so exasperatingly idiotic today, but fortunately it is not the end of the story and there are many more adventures Arthur will be forced to go on!

Thank you for reading, and thanks to Rinn Reads for hosting this wonderful, month-long celebration of Science Fiction!  Visit her website to learn more about the event and visit other participants' posts!

My posts on:
The Primary Phase   |  The Secondary Phase   |   The Tertiary Phase   |   The Quandary Phase

Share this post: Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Email This Pin This Share on Google Plus Share on Tumblr
Scroll Up


  1. Woah, I love The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but I've never listened to it. I'm so excited to hear that it's even more enjoyable that way and can't wait to give it a try :)

    1. Oh well I'm happy to let everyone know about it! I think it has been overshadowed by the adaptations that came after, but this one is just perfection to me! I hope you can get your hands on a copy!

  2. I adore Douglas Adams! I've listened to audio of the first book, read the "trilogy" many times and have always wanted to see the tv shows or listen to the radio shows. I would love to track these down and listen to them. Thanks for highlighting these in your review!

    1. Is it the Stephen Fry audiobook? Definitely necessary to listen to when he's reading! :) I'm glad that you are a fan of Douglas Adams- he's one of my favorite authors!

  3. I always found school reading a drag, especially picking books to pieces, so I'm glad that it opened your eyes to sci-fi! =D At least someone got something good out of it, haha.

    I have a confession to make... I've never watched E.T. When I was a kid it gave me nightmares so ever since then I've avoided it and have been teased relentlessly by my family. I had to leave the room whenever he appeared on TV, even just on ads and stuff.

    And neither have I read/watched/listened to Hitchhiker's! Perhaps your reviews will convince me ;D I'll be looking out for them, and your other posts! =)

    1. Very true, I'm glad I appreciated the books I read in school - even if I didn't like the book so much. LOL, oh no, maybe if you see ET so young he could be scarring! Never thought of it. But he's a good alien, even if he looks creepy! :) I'm sure your family has already tried to convince you to watch it though. :D

      OH but you need to get into Hitchhiker's!! You would love it I think! At least read the book first cause it's easy for you to get a copy. Douglas Adams is so awesome.

  4. I still really want to read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and now I am intrigued by this radio version!

    1. I would recommend reading the book first, unless you really like radio shows, cause the book might be easier to get a hold of. But I really love these stories, I hope you'll enjoy them!

  5. Hallo Charlene,

    I'm thankful your involved with this event, because I have a heap of things inter-related to sci-fi & fantasy to talk to you about throughout the month, including finally getting my tail into gear about posting about a certain book you introduced me too! I broke my hiatus the last week of October, and I've been playing 'catch-up' ever since, as you might have seen my blog explode recently! Oh, that was such a happy day, to get back into a place where I could blog regular again and read the books that make my heart dance!

    I only wish the timing would have been more in tune with my plans,...

    I didn't read "A Wrinkle in Time" until I was in my early to mid twenties because I was looking for a book to help me understand the QP books that I was reading at the time! Her world inside the Time Quartet simply left me musefully happy that I picked up the book from my shelf!! Wow. What a world of a difference! I wasn't keen on Orwell, which is why I sort of thought Dystopian wasn't a genre for me, and why I wanted to challenge myself to read other authors and see if I can find a path for myself!

    The ENTIRE trilogy of Back to the Future held a special place in the hearts of my entire family! Its one of the first films past Star Wars that my Dad surprised me and gave me a box set!! :) :) Ooh, now ET was my best friend! Glad to know you were too!

    Ooh, I can officially say, that I have now seen my first official 4 episodes of Doctor Who (as of last night!) and am preparing my post about the Whovian Universe & my experiences of seeing the Doctor for the first time! I'm happy my library was able to come through for me!

    I'll be back to see your posts and to let you know about the others' I am working on whilst SFN carries onward! I am truly setting myself up for a blog a day challenge for November with multiple posts arriving every so many days!

    1. I still have to reply to your lovely email - hopefully soon - it's been busy lately but I'm hoping to play catchup all this week! :) You know I never read the other books in the TQ cause A Wrinkle in Time was so perfect for me, but someday I think I'll pick them up to see what happened next.

      Dystopian is not my favorite genre really, but there are quite a few books I really enjoy in that - The Darkest Minds is a recent one, the Legend series by Marie Lu is another. And then of course there is The Hunger Games!

      I'm so happy you started watching Doctor Who!! I hope you are posting about it soon as I want to know which episodes you started with! Maybe they will help me amend my own recommendations to introduce people to the show. :) I hope you will become a big fan cause I can talk about it for ages. (just warning you LOL)

      Looking forward to reading more from you on your blog- and I hope to answer your email soon!

  6. I am looking forward to the insights on the HHGtG radio series. I listened to them all against recently and really like them.

    It's interesting how many times Adams used the same starting point for a story and then went into the various tangents.

    You can check out my stuff for SciFi month at www.nashvillebookworm.wordpress.com. (I only add this because this may link to my older blog)

    1. Oh thank you, I'm glad you are a fan and have actually listened to the radio show! One less person to have to sell it to. ;) I think it's cool how Adams changed up the story with every version too!