Friday Book Club: The Many Lives of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

SWT-Book-ClubsThe Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a classic book with a long, strange life in many forms.  Here’s just a few of the ways you can enjoy Douglas Adams’ weird and wonderful mind:

Radio

Hitchhiker’s started life as a BBC radio broadcast in 1978.  There were six episodes.  It was not expected to be a hit, but it did so well that it was rebroadcast twice that year and then released as a record.  A second series was released in 1980.

Novels

Next came the novels.  After the third novel was released, the series was described as a “trilogy” and when the fourth novel came out it was described as a “trilogy in four parts”.  Eventually five books were published:  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Life, The Universe, and Everything, So Long and Thanks for All The Fish, and Mostly Harmless.  Douglas Adams wanted to write a sixth one, because he thought that the fifth book, Mostly Harmless, ended the series on too dark a note.  But he died before the book was written.  Enoin Colfer wrote a final book, And Another Thing, with the endorsement of Adams’ widow.

Cover - Hitchhikers Guide

Television

BBC ran a six part TV series based on the radio show in 1981.  A sec don series was discussed but fell through because of, among other things, disagreements about budget.  In 2003, some excerpts of the books were filmed as part of The Big Read program.

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And…back to radio!

The BBC did another, updated radio show in 2005.  In case that’s not enough to delight your ears, there are also several LP versions and audiobook versions.

Hitchhiker's guide

Film

Douglas Adams spent years trying to get a Hollywood film version of Hitchhiker’s made but he died before the 2005 movie was finally released.  It came out to mixed reviews and differs from the books a lot, playing up the love triangle aspect between Arthur, Trillian, and Zaphod.  It starts Martin Freeman, Mos Def, Sam Rockwell, and Zooey Deschanel.

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For a complete list of all the spin offs and adaptations, go to your friendly Wikipedia, where you will find enough Adams to keep you busy forever!  There are comic books!  There are video games!  There are radio scripts and stage plays!  And, of course, there are lots and lots of towels for sale!

DontPanicAndCarryATowel

Friday Book Club: Douglas Adams Saves the World

SWT-Book-ClubsThis month in book club we’re reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  If you have a comment on the book, leave it here, and better yet join us on 2/23/14 at 2PM at Arden Dimick Library in Sacramento for a book discussion and movie screening!

Douglas Adams is most famous for the Hitchhiker’s Series, but his favorite book was Last Chance to See.  In this nonfiction work, Adams traveled the world with Mark Carwardine (a zoologist) in search of endangered species.  The book accompanied a BBC radio documentary about their travels.

Adams and Carwardine

Adams and Carwardine

Carwardine said, “We put a big map of the world on a wall, Douglas stuck a pin in everywhere he fancied going, I stuck a pin in where all the endangered animals were, and we made a journey out of every place that had two pins”.

Last_Chance_to_See_Harmony_front

Twenty years later, Mark took Adams’ friend, comedian Stephen Fry, on a second trip to see how the endangered species were doing.  This TV documentary (also called Last Chance to See) can be found, among other places, at the Sacramento Public Library.

Adams did not confine his environmental efforts to Last Chance to See.  He was particularly active with the organization Save The Rhino.  In 1994, Adams participated in a hike up Mount Kilimanjaro while wearing a rhino suit to raise money for the organization.  The organization hosts a yearly lecture by prominent scientists in memory of Douglas Adams’ work.

Here’s Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine sharing some memories of Douglas Adams, the birth of Last Chance to See and it’s impact on Adams, and some footage of Adams in the rhino suit:

Friday Book Club: Prepare to be Amused

SWT-Book-ClubsFriday Book Club is going on a bit of a vacation, but we will be back in January with a three-month series that features humor writing.  If the last series, Gothic Literature, made you mopey, then January should perk you right up.

Our January book will be:  Thank You, Jeeves, by P.G. Wodehouse.

This classic British comedy is the first full-length Jeeves novel, and what a joy it is, as the unflappable butler, Jeeves, has not one but two upper-class idiots to take care of.  Thank You, Jeeves was published in 1934.  I’m still waiting for the final Jeeves installment, which I’m sure will come any day now:  Jeeves, Put Down that Uzi!

Cover of Thank You, Jeeves

The February Book Will Be:  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

I can’t imagine humor, or science fiction, or…well, anything, without this delightful book.  The Guide has been a radio show, a TV show, and audiobook, a hollywood film, a stage play, and of course a trilogy consisting of five books (not a typo).  Follow the insane adventures of Arthur Dent, Earthman, as he travels though space with his friend Ford Prefect, fellow earthling Trillian, the two-headed party boy and President of the Galaxy Zaphod Beeblebrox, and the eternally depressed robot Marvin (“Life.  Don’t talk to me about Life”).

Cover - Hitchhikers Guide

And for the Grand Finale:  700 Sundays, by Billy Crystal

700 Sundays is a change of pace, from wacky madcap British comedy to bittersweet autobiography from one of America’s most beloved comics.  In this book, Billy Crystal talks about the family and friends who supported and inspired him.

Cover of 700 Sundays

So, start reading now, and join us back here for Friday Book club, starting January 3rd!