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Posted on February 16, 2013

Let's say 4.5 stars.

I reread this book because I am undertaking a novel where I wanted the humor to have a similar tone. This reading would serve as inspiration. Since the last time I read this series was in my teens, I thought it merited a second look.

The teenage me loved this series, finding the tone and unfolding of events to be arch and wonky.

The older me, well, I can see through some of the narrative tricks and the book sags in places. Now, it's still just such a fine piece of fiction with its humor veering from peacock-strut to ninja-stealth. Adams knows how to turn a phrase and the banter is just so gregarious and winsome.

But he is sometimes too hot for tangents. Yes, I know most of the tangents pay off later, but the narrative coherency takes a beating here and there.

With the book I'm writing, I want to make sure the main character is not lost in the spectacle of the wit and cosmic nature of the book's trappings. Arthur, sadly doesn't fair so well. He is bland and fades into the background for most of the novel. Yes, I realize the series will eventually evolve him, but it's still disappointing to see such a skeletal character as mere placeholder in such a lofty book.

Quick Observations:

Including additional information as footnotes is distracting and all could be eliminated without any enjoyment being robbed from the telling.

The author really dislikes cheery futuristic doors that whish open and close.

A paranoid and depressing robot-golden! More scenes, please!

Mice could never be more menacing than here.

Button-pushing cracked me up in this tale.

For a book about hitchhiking through the interstellar vastness, there was a lack of wonder or variety in the settings. If one is thumbing through the cosmos, I'd expect a space bar, exotic alien jungle, lavishly expensive sets, but this one felt sparse.

As I raced to the end, the humor flowed consistently throughout. I struggle with this in my own work as it seems my humor cuts out whenever I approach the climax. As if the apex of the story needs to be all serious and such. Well, this book reminded me that should be an area to focus on.

The book did what it was supposed to do, it invigorated my desire to write funny. It also made me wonder what a space opera might read like if I ever stopped writing fantasies and took the interstellar plunge.

I can guarantee one thing – it sure as Jupiter would feature a space bar. Maybe even in its opening scene.


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