Friday, February 08, 2008
BooksFirst Audio Addendum - Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster Edition
The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams and read by Stephen Fry
When I did my BooksFirst post for this month I neglected to include the audiobook I listened to. I count unabridged audiobooks as being the same as a standard print book. And suitably appropriate for the aural format is The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. More so than even Neverwhere, Hitchhikers Guide is a cross-media beserker that has been (in chronological order I think) a radio show, a television series, a five-volume inappropriately named trilogy, and a movie.
It is to my discredit as a geek that I have never read the entire book all the way through. In my defense, I tried to read it on the cheap while I was in college. Every time I found myself in the bookstore I would read a chapter or two. Unfortunately I kept losing my place and had to abandon the effort.
Many years ago my high school English teacher asked me if there was anything to this Douglas Adams character since many of her students and my fellow nerds were insisting it was a classic on par with the works of Kurt Vonnegut. That is near blasphemy to me. Hitchhikers Guide is many things but a great piece of literature it is not. It’s amusing, cynical, clever, but not particularly transcendent. Ironically, because of its role as a touchstone of geek culture up there with Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, it will probably outlast all the Booker Award Winners of the last half century.
The audiobook is read by the ubiquitous Stephen Fry who is an actor, writer, and director among other things. He is also the voice of the award-winning Harry Potter audiobooks (which I have never heard). I also think that he has done several Terry Pratchett novels, although my Googlin’ skilz are 2 l@m3 2 confirm this.
In many ways the contrast of outsized exaggeration and British understatement serve the written and spoken versions of the series better than the more visual adaptations, although again, I am speaking out of ignorance having never seen any.
I will get around to the rest of the series, either out loud or in print, so in the meantime, Don’t Panic.
BlatantCommentWhoring™: What is your favorite version of the Hitchhiker’s Guide?