THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, by Douglas Adams
Selected by Pit Hartling and Denis Behr
“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, originally a radio series, but more widely known as a series of books, is so utterly brilliant on so many levels that I hardly know where to start. There are at least two ways in which anyone interested in creating and performing magic will immediately find inspiration:
1) The many clever, absurdly original (and often magical) plots. To wit:
– Make anything invisible. (by use of an SEP field, where SEP stands for “somebody else’s problem”)
– Instantly understand any language (by aid of a babel fish, popped into your ear)
– Have all information at your fingertips (an electronic book of nearly infinite scope)
– Fly (The trick is to throw yourself to the ground and miss.)
– Control probability (by use of the improbability drive)
The last is a plot that Thomas Fraps and I have actually used on stage. It also has obvious applications for card magic: Set the device to 1:2 to cause the desired outcome in a fifty/fifty situation (like red or black). Set it to 1:52 and get a coincidence. Set it to 1: 52! for the Total Coincidence plot. What happens when you set it to 1:Infinity? Well, for this you’ll just have to read the book.
2) Douglas Adams was very much up to date with technical innovation and the sciences (information technology mainly, but also biology, philosophy and psychology). While his plots are often quite fantastic, his world does not contain fairies, dragons or gods (well, god yes, actually, but then only to thoroughly mock the concept). I think there is plenty to take note for us magicians and mentalists when it comes to creating coherent, fascinating and magical fictions without resorting to bullshit and the supernatural.”
– Pit Hartling
About the Book
The super short version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is, well, weird stuff happens to Arthur Dent, regular Earth-person. But the real joy of this book is in the weird stuff, and there’s so much of it that we can’t even capture it all.
One of the most emblematic things in this book: Earth was actually a giant computer created to find the question that would give meaning to life. The people who ordered Earth already have the answer to the meaning of life, and that answer is: 42. The only trouble is that they’re not sure what the question is that “42” answers.
For a compelling journey into deeply funny fiction, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is one of the cultest of cult classics out there, one of those books that everyone knows bits of, even if they don’t know the context. Why not read it then?
About the Author
Douglas Noel Adams was an English writer, humorist, and dramatist.
Adams is best known as the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which originated in 1978 as a BBC radio comedy before developing into a “trilogy” of five books that sold more than 15 million copies in his lifetime and generated a television series, several stage plays, comics, a computer game, and in 2005 a feature film. Adams’s contribution to UK radio is commemorated in The Radio Academy’s Hall of Fame.
But Adams also wrote Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, and co-wrote The Meaning of Liff, The Deeper Meaning of Liff, Last Chance to See and three stories for the television series Doctor Who. A posthumous collection of his work, including an unfinished novel, was published as The Salmon of Doubt in 2002.
Adams was known as an advocate for environmentalism and conservation, as a lover of fast cars, cameras, technological innovation and the Apple Macintosh, and as a staunch atheist.