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STEEPSTER BOOK CLUB: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (H2G2), Week One Discussion HERE!

Here is the place where we can start discussing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (H2G2), beginning through Chapter 4.

Week 1 – June 1-6
Chapters 1-4

reading schedule: http://steepster.com/discuss/676-steepster-book-club-reading-schedule-h2g2

Here are a few questions to get you started thinking and discussing the book. I am hoping you all will also post more questions as we start discussing!

1. So, amazing what the packaging can do for sales (The Guide), have you bought a tea just for the package?

2. How does Aurthur’s morning compare to yours? (Specifically he is not really awake until after the tea, first objective put the kettle on.)

3. This was written before ebook readers were around, in your opinion how does the h2g2 compare to ebook readers of today?

4. So far what do you think of Arthur?
Ford?
Zaphod?

5. How did you feel about earth ceasing to exist? kidnapped from another book club “Adams flippantly depicts the destruction of the planet Earth as a casual, everyday sort of occurrence. Why do you think he does this? What impact does it have on the emotional development of the narrative, specifically on Arthur Dent?”

6. Do you usually read science fiction?

7. Have you seen anything else related to this series?

8. What were you expecting getting into this? How is it comparing to your expectations currently?

Again, I encourage you to submit your questions and can’t wait to read your comments!

43 Replies
gmathis said

Apologies in advance…I’m not sure how well I can keep up or contribute, but I did do the first chunk last night. Furthermore, I’ve never attempted reading group coneversation; I hope these ideas are headed the correct direction. So here goes:

1. So, amazing what the packaging can do for sales (The Guide), have you bought a tea just for the package?

I think the related tea needs to be whatever Arthur Dent planned to drink when the story opens. Something packaged and British. Red Rose? PG Tips?

2. How does Aurthur’s morning compare to yours? (Specifically he is not really awake until after the tea, first objective put the kettle on.)

I used to be a morning person, still am somewhat, but the chunk of morning when I’m functioning best is rapidly shrinking—-I’m now down to about one good hour around 9 a.m.! Morning routine is important to me: personal stuff, quick devotion and prayer (so glad God understands bleary, incoherent morning mumbles), and then out to the kitchen for the cuppa! Anything that interrupts or juggles the sequence can make for a distressing day.

3. This was written before ebook readers were around, in your opinion how does the h2g2 compare to ebook readers of today?

Sorry, friends; I’m a Luddite who prefers my books on paper—-I’ll leave the tech experts to answer this one!

4. So far what do you think of Arthur?
Ford?
Zaphod?

Arthur is just all of us—-an Everyman who just craves a little order, peace, and quiet. Zaphod is Arthur’s polar opposite, who appears to crave everything for himself regardless of the order, peace and quiet of others.
Ford…I’m still working on him.

5. How did you feel about earth ceasing to exist? kidnapped from another book club “Adams flippantly depicts the destruction of the planet Earth as a casual, everyday sort of occurrence. Why do you think he does this? What impact does it have on the emotional development of the narrative, specifically on Arthur Dent?”

Is it possible that all of us think our personally furnished worlds (comfort zones) are a lot more important than they really are?

6. Do you usually read science fiction?

Tend to watch more than read. Enjoying the deadpan humor and wordplay, which is what encouraged me to pick up something in a non-favorite genre.

1. I can totally see him making up some PG Tips!

2. Oh yes, i love my morning routine, it’s like a boot-up squence for me, and you’re right it’s no fun when things get all jiggled

i should post my answers up soon, can’t wait to see who else is joining us this month, this is one of my favorite books, in that it’s silly and crazy and a good brain candy read

gmathis said

After looking at Morgana’s comments, I think I’ll edit my “do you read sci-fi?” comment. I am a fan of Jasper Fforde; he does absurdist fantasy alternate-reality fiction that’s a nice companion to Douglas Adams. Have read nearly all in the Thursday Next series … read “The Big Over Easy” and didn’t like it quite as well. Again, very clever wordplay and puns/scenarios only true book junkies could love.

oo that sounds like an author i may enjoy…

gmathis said

From Amazon/Publishers Weekly review of “The Eyre Affair” by Jasper Fforde:

Surreal and hilariously funny, this alternate history, the debut novel of British author Fforde, will appeal to lovers of zany genre work (think Douglas Adams) and lovers of classic literature alike. The scene: Great Britain circa 1985, but a Great Britain where literature has a prominent place in everyday life. For pennies, corner Will-Speak machines will quote Shakespeare; Richard III is performed with audience participation … la Rocky Horror and children swap Henry Fielding bubble-gum cards. In this world where high lit matters, Special Operative Thursday Next (literary detective) seeks to retrieve the stolen manuscript of Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewit. The evil Acheron Hades has plans for it: after kidnapping Next’s mad-scientist uncle, Mycroft, and commandeering Mycroft’s invention, the Prose Portal, which enables people to cross into a literary text, he sends a minion into Chuzzlewit to seize and kill a minor character, thus forever changing the novel. Worse is to come. When the manuscript of Jane Eyre, Next’s favorite novel, disappears, and Jane herself is spirited out of the book, Next must pursue Hades inside Charlotte Bront‰’s masterpiece. The plethora of oddly named characters can be confusing, and the story’s episodic nature means that the action moves forward in fits and starts. The cartoonish characters are either all good or all bad, but the villain’s comeuppance is still satisfying. Witty and clever, this literate romp heralds a fun new series set in a wonderfully original world. (Jan. 28)Forecast: With a six-city author tour, a well-conceived Web site at www.thursdaynext.com and crossover appeal to Bront‰ fans, this is likely to attract more attention than the usual first genre novel.

i’ve mooched it! can’t wait for it to arrive

gmathis said

OK, now I’m really rabbit-chasing, but another author (based on the preferences of what everybody’s posted so far) that I think might be mutually enjoyable both for the fantasy folks and the more classically inclined…Stephen Lawhead. Has done series based on Robin Hood, the crusades (The Iron Cross and sequels), Merlin, St. Patrick, and my absolute favorite stand-alone, Byzantium. Recommended.

gmathis – both of those authors sound right up my alley!! Yhank you for the recs!!!

Rabs said

Ooh, have wanted to read Stephen Lawhead — thanks for the reminder!

And yes yes yes to Jasper Fforde! I love his Thursday Next books (my cat is named after a character and Mr. Fforde posted a pic and some info about my kitty that I’d submitted on one of his many websites). I’m also somewhere on one of his websites, but it’s a bad pic and will not point anyone to that) ;) The first book is really good, but the second one is what completely hooked me into the series.

The “Nursurey Crime” series is okay, and his newest (Shades of Grey) I wasn’t too crazy about — it’s one of those that seems like a set-up book to just get you into that particular world. I’ll give the next one a go, but am not too excited about it.

I also got to meet him and his wife at a booksigning (I gave him a stuffed do-do!) and they were both so incredibly friendly.

gmathis: you should give Terry Pratchett a try. He’s my favorite (Small Gods is a wonderful book to try out and see if you like his style or not).

gmathis said

You know, I’ve had other Pratchett recommendations made to me by people whose taste I respect … will have to start keeping an eye out at my favorite use book haunts.

Byzantium is my absolute favorite so far, but most recently, I read the first in his Robin Hood trilogy, Hood, and liked it as well. Puts an interesting Welsh/Celtic twist on the legends.

…and what an appropriate gift for Jasper Fforde. I’dseen some blurbs about Shades of Grey but haven’t had it in hand yet. How did it compare to the other two series?

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Ok, here I go.

1. So, amazing what the packaging can do for sales (The Guide), have you bought a tea just for the package?

No. :-)

2. How does Aurthur’s morning compare to yours? (Specifically he is not really awake until after the tea, first objective put the kettle on.)

Words often wander through my mind in search of something to connect with in the morning. Lol.

3. This was written before ebook readers were around, in your opinion how does the h2g2 compare to ebook readers of today?

I don’t have an ebook reader (for shame). But this one talks. I don’t think the Kindle does that, does it? (Was that in the first 4 chapters? If no, I apologize. Words are still wandering around my mind in search of something to connect with.)

4. So far what do you think of Arthur?
Ford?
Zaphod?

Don’t know any of them that well yet as I just started chapter 6. Arthur seems rather the hapless victim of highly ironic circumstance. Ford seems like an interesting fellow. I think his cover on Earth as an unemployed actor is hysterical. Zaphod — dunno yet, but from the first description he seems a bit of a playboy. I’m getting a Warren Beatty vibe from him (despite the physical description).

5. How did you feel about earth ceasing to exist? kidnapped from another book club “Adams flippantly depicts the destruction of the planet Earth as a casual, everyday sort of occurrence. Why do you think he does this? What impact does it have on the emotional development of the narrative, specifically on Arthur Dent?”

Obviously this is an extremely serious book, and we’re meant to take every word seriously. :-P I think the destruction of earth is just another absurdity in a book where so far almost every word has been absurd. I can’t really tell what sort of contribution it will have to the story yet, other than to make Arthur’s angst over his house’s destruction seem to pale by comparison.

6. Do you usually read science fiction?

No. I’ve read some Isaac Asimov, and I’ve read some Kurt Vonnegut (if you consider him science fiction) as well as some staples like 2001 and others over the years. Is His Dark Materials science fiction? (I read those.) I don’t read a lot of genre fiction and when I do it usually tends toward the Tolkein-esque variety. And I’ve read all the Harry Potters. And some books by Jane Jensen (who wrote the Gabriel Knight computer game series).

7. Have you seen anything else related to this series?

Yeah, there’s an old text adventure game by Infocom and a movie with John Malkovich and Alan Rickman, two of my favorite actors (which I haven’t seen except parts of on TV when flipping through channels).

8. What were you expecting getting into this? How is it comparing to your expectations currently?

I didn’t have any expectations. I knew it had a cult following. It reminds me of Vonnegut to some extent, and the writing reminds me of gonzo journalism. I didn’t know Douglas Adams contributed to Monty Python, but I can see Monty Python in it as well. I can also see where some more recent books seem to have been influenced by the style. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius comes to mind.

gmathis said

Have watched the H2G2 movie … it was fun!

3. no not yet but that’s ok
4. ha playboy, perfect! wish that word had come to mind when i was trying to describe him
6. for me i think they count. anything with science and fiction to me is scifi :)
7. i have wanted to play that forever, could never get my hands on a copy
see this, this is ENVY
8. it’s that dry british comedy thing…

gmathis – Bristish BBC or US movie?

gmathis said

I don’t think BBC: www.imdb.com/title/tt0371724/

ah, the US one, great soundtrack :)

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1. So, amazing what the packaging can do for sales (The Guide), have you bought a tea just for the package?

Yes, I have bought teas, books, and all sorts of things for the pretty packaging, I could see falling for a well marketed guide over a poorly marketed better researched book

2. How does Aurthur’s morning compare to yours? (Specifically he is not really awake until after the tea, first objective put the kettle on.)

Oh my I am not a morning person, and things just don’t click well until I am caffeinated! I could see not quite putting together that there were there to wreck my home…and I have my routine i like to go through, comics to read, news to read, steepster to check :)

3. This was written before ebook readers were around, in your opinion how does the h2g2 compare to ebook readers of today?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2TGO-Q2F9g
hehe the kindle is the guide!
anyway, I think the guide is what ebooks want to be, and someday our ebooks will surpass the guide, but we’re not quite there yet.
We’ll see the guide get neater as we go FYI

4. So far what do you think of Arthur?
Ford?
Zaphod?

Arthur is kind of a dull homebody with a crappy set of circumstances, reminds me of the clerks guy “i wasn’t supposed to be here today”

5. How did you feel about earth ceasing to exist? kidnapped from another book club “Adams flippantly depicts the destruction of the planet Earth as a casual, everyday sort of occurrence. Why do you think he does this? What impact does it have on the emotional development of the narrative, specifically on Arthur Dent?”

I’ve always been a little distressed that it was such a brief, non detailed event, poof earth’s gone going on with the tale….
We are in the book looking at the universe, and in the scheme of things earth is tiny and not particularly important, so not worth fussing over, i think this helps drive it home
Well Arthur obviously now has larger things to worry about that just a missing house…and it sets the stage for him to be a wanderer

6. Do you usually read science fiction?

Oh yes, his dark materials, mercedes lackey, ringworld, heinlin, so many! i do read some non-sci fi to but fantasy and science fiction always amuse me

7. Have you seen anything else related to this series?
movies (BBC and US), radio show, other books, graphic novel

8. What were you expecting getting into this? How is it comparing to your expectations currently?

haha, can’t answer, i know what i am getting myself into and am glad to plow through for the million time of giggles

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Janefan said

I’m in. I’m actually still finishing For All the Tea in China but started too late to really catch up with that discussion (though I have been following it.) I am "ahead on h2g2 though since I started it on vacation last month – I’m up to ch23 but will try not to give any spoilers!

1. So, amazing what the packaging can do for sales (The Guide), have you bought a tea just for the package?

Not yet that I can recall, but I have been eyeing “novel-tea” http://bagladiestea.com/novel-tea.html and these “cup of fame” celebrity teabags http://shop.donkey-products.com/de/auswahl/cup-of-fame-5-teebeutel (chaplin, bogart, monroe, dean, and my favorite Audrey Hepburn)

2. How does Aurthur’s morning compare to yours? (Specifically he is not really awake until after the tea, first objective put the kettle on.)

Sadly, I don’t really have a morning ritual to wake myself up, nor is my morning befuddlement ever so eloquent. Reading this did remind me of the brilliant beginning of the film Shaun of the Dead, where his brain-dead morning routine is juxtaposed again the horde of zombies that are slowly infiltrating the city… guess it’s a British humor thing!

3. This was written before ebook readers were around, in your opinion how does the h2g2 compare to ebook readers of today?
Amazingly prescient, actually! I always forget that it’s an electronic device, not a physical book. I do think today’s e-book readers/smartphones sound easier to operate than the H2G2, which seemed to have an awful lot of buttons…

4. So far what do you think of Arthur?
A docile everyman, a bit boring, seems old for his age
Ford? There’s frood who knows here his towel is! actually his “personality” is a bit of an enigma to me at this point
Zaphod? Narcissistic, egotistic, juvenile, selfish… but very charismatic!

5. How did you feel about earth ceasing to exist? kidnapped from another book club “Adams flippantly depicts the destruction of the planet Earth as a casual, everyday sort of occurrence. Why do you think he does this? What impact does it have on the emotional development of the narrative, specifically on Arthur Dent?”

I actually read this part a few weeks ago, when I was stuck in TN during the flooding. It really helped me put things in perspective and not panic (LOL) since at least we weren’t being destroyed by Vogons!

6. Do you usually read science fiction?
No, I usually read “classics,” (19th cent lit), contemporary popular fiction, and occasionally historical fiction. The only sci-fi I can recall reading lately was The Time Machine, and Fahrenheit 451 ages ago (which I did love). It’s a genre I’d like to read more of, especially if British humor is involved. A strong element of satire (which I notice in this series) also helps. :-)

7. Have you seen anything else related to this series?

I read most of the series about 3 years ago, but didn’t quite finish. I’ve also seen the recent film, but am trying to forget it…

8. What were you expecting getting into this? How is it comparing to your expectations currently?

I’d forgotten how funny it is – I guess I’m picking up on more satire, and of course the tea references! . Not sure what else to expect, just a fun read to start the summer. Hopefully it will inspire me to continue reading the series, and finish it this time!

6. i’m rooting for you! there are a bunch, but they’re all not very long and funny little things
7. Ah the US one…it was very divergent on the books, but he died during production so there was no one to reign them in, on the other hand i VERY much love the soundtrack hums
glad to have you along for this wild ride around the universe :)

Rabs said

Fahrenheit 451 changed my life several times over: I read it in college while I was a theater major and shortly thereafter switched to English Lit. I also went to a Bradbury lecture (it was awesome) where he challenged everyone to go home and while laying in bed picture your life like a film and keep it playing into the future. I did that and didn’t see my fiance in my “film,” and shortly thereafter broke up.

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Janefan said

^^this was my fave part of the US movie. I’ll have to find the BBC radio/tv/movie stuff…

My edition of the books (“ultimate” I think) has a very funny tongue-in-cheek chronological synopsis, by Adams, of the various forms of media in which h2g2 has appeared. He admits that great liberties were taken/changes made along the way…

the giant blue one? got that one as well, i LOVE the history of all the different parts & how they aren’t all the same, so each time is a little different

gmathis said

That’s been the theme song playing in my head every time I open up this thread.

Rabs said

I can’t recall the theme (will click on the link and refresh my memory at a more appropriate time). I must say, the best part of the recent film was Bill Bailey (I love Bill Bailey!) doing the voice of the whale. That made the whole film for me ;)

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1. So, amazing what the packaging can do for sales (The Guide), have you bought a tea just for the package?

I’ve never bought a tea just for the package, but I have become interested in certain teas because of the package (Kusmi!) and love when a great tea also has a great package (Andrews & Dunham!).

2. How does Aurthur’s morning compare to yours? (Specifically he is not really awake until after the tea, first objective put the kettle on.)

I’m absolutely useless before I have my (!!!) coffee (!!!). I usually drink coffee to wake up, then have my first cup of tea around 10am ish.

3. This was written before ebook readers were around, in your opinion how does the h2g2 compare to ebook readers of today?

I’m not sure because I never used an ebook reader!

4. So far what do you think of Arthur?
Ford?
Zaphod?

Arthur seems like your “everyman” kinda guy so far – perhaps not very perceptive – he has been friends with someone not from planet Earth for a handful of years and hasn’t really thought anything was strange! He says on page 24 “Did I do anything wrong today…or has the world always been like this and I’ve been too wrapped up in myself to notice.”

Ford is funny :)

Let’s just say Zaphod seems like he would make a good president (ugh!).

5. How did you feel about earth ceasing to exist? kidnapped from another book club “Adams flippantly depicts the destruction of the planet Earth as a casual, everyday sort of occurrence. Why do you think he does this? What impact does it have on the emotional development of the narrative, specifically on Arthur Dent?”

We think Earth is the be all and end all, but in this book, there is a big galaxy out there – many other inhabited places! Earth being gone is not such a big deal when there are all these other planets. I think the author might have done it to wake us up – say we are actually not the center of the universe! I thought it was funny that Ford says Earth is the most boring place he’s ever been! So, to the rest of the galaxy, it is just this super boring, kinda insignificant place gone…

6. Do you usually read science fiction?

No, not usually. I mostly read classics and some contemporary literature. I loved the shows Battlestar Galactica and Firefly/Serenity, though! I love the fantasy genre (big Lord of the Rings Fan and yes, Harry Potter. I know, different from Science Fiction!).

7. Have you seen anything else related to this series?

No! I think we rented the movie but I fell asleep (because I was very tired).

8. What were you expecting getting into this? How is it comparing to your expectations currently?

So far I’m liking it! I like the dry sense of humor. I was expecting to like it because so many people I like and have a lot in common with love the book. I am also surprised how many things I’ve heard people say (“I never could get the hang of Thursdays!)” have come from this book, and I am ashamed to say that I have had an earth-ingredient replica of a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster without having read the book!

Janefan said

^^ Did it taste/feel “rather like having your brains smashed out with a slice of lemon, wrapped around a large gold brick” ??? I love that description!

i am a huge starbucks fan, i fully believe coffee and tea and happily co-exist
oh fantasy is such fun as well :) i miss BSG, caprica just isn’t as good
oh my your poor head!

Janefan – a little less drastic, since they were mere Earthly ingredients!!! It was more like a Long Island Iced Tea! :)

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I finished tonight, I hope I remember what I read by next week. Lol.

I also hope tomorrow I’ll be able to return to tea drinking. My tummy and head have been pretty funky the last two days.

aww sorry you haven’t been feeling well, i should be posting week 2 shortly, hopefully you can remember!

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Janefan said

Oh, there’s a great list of quotes here, broken down by each book in the H2G2 series, and chapter numbers (so you can avoid potential spoilers):
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/The_Hitchhiker%27s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy

Janefan said

We just missed Towel Day, btw http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Towel_Day

yes, too bad H2G2 wasn’t last month, by gosh darn it I was prepared and had my towel with me! http://www.thinkgeek.com/geektoys/science/8e20/

so anyone have a toothbrush, washcloth, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet-weather gear, space suit etc., etc. ? ;)

Janefan said

I actually had a poncho (2 actually) in my car when I needed them last month. hooray for wet-weather gear!

yea for preparedness!

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Rabs said

Love the links! And I want that utility towel — it needs to stop being sold out :P

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Rabs said

1. Tea Packaging?

Not yet, but know that I’m the sort who would. If there were “Tardis” tea tins, then I would cave immediately. Hmmm…I might have to attempt to make some…

2. Arthur’s vs. my morning?

Oh, I am a zombie in the morning. I half-jokingly say that I have to wait for my soul to re-enter my body. I’m somewhat more intelligible once I get some form of caffeine in my system.

One thing that I wanted to bring up is the fact that Arthur is struggling with a massive hangover that particular morning (having spent the previous night drinking heavily because of the impending doom of his house). Most mornings I’m struggling to gain coherency, but if you add a hangover to that? I’d have trouble even thinking of the word yellow. ;)

3. ebooks?

I almost fell out of my chair when I read this question. As I was reading H2G2 I thought of Kindles/nooks and how closer we’re getting to actually having a real “Guidebook.”

4. Arthur? Ford? Zaphod?

I’m having a blast rereading this. It occurred to me the other night that it’s been over two decades since last I read this (::hangs her nerd head in shame::). It’s like rediscovering utter joy. Plus, I’m catching so many more jokes/witty things. But, one of the biggest things for me (since I’m a tiny bit older than Arthur) is how much more I relate to him so far. Before, he seemed like an old fuddy-duddy (LOL!), but now he seems more reasonable ;) I still love Ford and Zaphod.

5. Earth goes boom?

This time around I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of Arthur’s home and “everyone’s” (every human’s) home. It’s like a nice slap in the face of a conventional sci-fi where the entire plot evolves around saving the Earth from “certain destruction.”

6. Do you usually read science fiction?

I’m much more of a fantasy gal myself, but I do occassionally read sci-fi. One of my favorite authors is Neal Stephenson (Anathem is still on my bedside table waiting to be read). I was wanting to read Iain M. Banks’ work, but let my ex keep all of the Banks’ books I had purchased since he enjoyed them so much. I enjoyed Neuromancer.

7. Have you seen anything else related to this series?

I’ve always wanted to see/listen to the BBC productions. I did see the recent movie ::sigh:: But the funniest thing I’m experiencing is that I’m jumbling up so many other sci-fi/fantasy things into this book: Firefly, Wright Frost & Pegg’s stuff (Shaun of the Dead etc.), Babylon 5, Dr. Who, and especially Red Dwarf. I’m using a lot of Red Dwarf in my mental images while reading. I’m also getting that theme song stuck in my head a lot as a result ;)

8. Expectations?

I was really excited to revisit this book after so much time. I was in about the sixth grade when I first read the entire series. It was my first experience of “British Humor,” something that has become a love of mine. While a lot has stuck with me throughout the years, there are also a lot of blank spaces I look forward to filling. It’s far exceeding my expectations :D

1. oh my i think i’d cave for that as well!
4. yes i do find through the years i “get” more and more and related to characters more
6. have you read “snow crash” ?
7. i have the radio show on CD, i found it at borders, it was fun

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