I recently read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams in audiobook form narrated by Stephen Fry. The audiobook is 5 hours and 51 minutes long and I listened to it via Audible.
Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last 15 years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.
Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.”) and a galaxy full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; and Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.
For some reason I thought I had read this book some years ago before the movie came out, but as I listened to the story unfold, the mysteries of the universe weave themselves in circles and found out why bringing a towel along on a hitchhiking adventure is a good idea, I realized I remembered nothing. Either I never read the book, or it was so long ago that I completely forgotten it, or memorizing Bar Exam information and pushed it out of my brain.
What I loved about this book was that all the random pieces of information meant something. It all came together beautifully, and as things fell into place and little universal wonderings revealed, I came to understand why this book is such a cult classic piece of geek history. Arthur Dent is the perfect eyes through which to view the unexpected. His character is so rather bland that the rest of the crew are unusual and beautiful spinning planets around him as center. And I loved the author’s explanation for why pens disappear, it really all makes sense now.
Stephen Fry did an amazing job as narrator. He was excellent at creating different voices, accents, and cadences to give depth to the characters. It was easy to tell the characters apart by the voices he created even before the narration indicated who was speaking. A couple of his voices sounded similar, but for the most part they were easy to tell apart.
I also found myself lulled asleep on occasion by the soothing familiarity of a well written story. On nights when I couldn’t get to sleep because I dreaded getting up the next day just to work and study some more, I would play The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and fall asleep smiling at some of the more ridiculous parts of the story. This meant going back in the morning and finding the part where I fell asleep (and honestly the only thing I hate about audiobooks is that this is not easy to do), but it was worth it.
If you haven’t picked up this classic book or have thought about re-reading it, I recommend letting Stephen Fry tell you the tale in this audiobook version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.