I continue my foray back into the world of the Hitchhiker’s Guide with the second in the series. It’s good! But really isn’t as good as the first, which is not at all what I remember from when I read this in high school.
The plot line with the impossible engine is straight up still one of the most original, creative things I’ve ever read. The concert they nearly died at was absolutely spectacular. The way they sacrificed Marvin without a second thought made me strangely, or maybe suitably melancholy. I wonder how many people truly believe they’re progressive, right up until they have 2 minutes to teleport out of a ship that’s going to dive into a sun and someone has to stay back and operate it. Suddenly it’s very easy to say that sure, that person is a person, but they’re not AS MUCH a person as you and therefore they should stay behind. Arther literally said nothing. What the hell, my dude? I really appreciate how much when you even scrape a little of the surface, these books have these beautiful moments of insight. Not all “light entertainment” is made equal.
All that said, it was a weaker book than I remember it being. I wish Trillian had more to do. Even though she was hardly in the first one, she’s somehow in even less of this one, even though she’s there for a lot of the major plot points. The jokes are a little staler. We have yet more jokes about how environmentalists are pretty much entirely right, and that no one will listen to them and we’ll all die, and maybe we’re a little close to that consequence for me to really find it all that amusing anymore. The dialogue isn’t quite as punchy as it was in the first book. Some scenes really overstayed their welcome and jokes that overstayed theirs.
Maybe part of the issue was that it was an audiobook, and that really depends on liking the narrator. I think these books in particular are so suited to the audiobook genre and I’m glad they have readers that really commit. But man, I really missed Stephen Fry. This one was read by Martin Freeman, which makes perfect sense since he’s literally Arther Dent and make no mistake, the man committed. He did a great job. It just didn’t quite work for me with Freeman’s naturally earnest voice. I longed for Fry’s bone dry tone somehow dripping with sarcasm. At least to me, it matched the book more accurately.
I gotta say though, I’m very relieved these are still enjoyable.