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

Here is the place where we can start discussing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (H2G2), Chapters 13-20.

Week 3 – June 14-20
Chapters 13-20

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!

Borrowed from other online book clubs:

1. Trillian’s “reappearance” later in the plot thoroughly unsettles Arthur. Why is this character taken from a bit cameo to a full-fledged protagonist? How does Arthur’s rivalry with Zaphod alter his behavior?

2. Explore the notion of a manically depressed robot.

My Q

3. There are many improabilities occuring, even when the drive is not in use. Do you believe that using the heart of gold causes improbability ripples? (or for a better term, ongoing butterfly effects for every time it is used. For example; everyone knowing one another already on board the heart of gold)

4. It seems (almost) everyone on board the heart of gold has their own way of coping with not being able to get to sleep. what do you think their reactions tell us about each of them. What’s your method?

5. In Chapter 15 Adams seems to be making a statement about money trying to buy happiness, what did you take away from this chapter?

What world would you want to build?

Thanks to gmathis
6. “When the ‘Drink’ button is pressed it makes an instant but highly detailed examination of the subject’s taste buds, a spectroscopic analysis of the subject’s metabolism, and then sends tiny experimental signals down the neural pathways to the taste centres of the subject’s brain to see what is likely to be well received. However, no-one knows quite why it does this because it then invariably delivers a cupful of liquid that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_in_The_Hitchhiker%27s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy#Nutrimatic_Drinks_Dispenser

If a device like the Heart of Gold’s Nutri-Matic (if it worked properly) spectroscopically analyzed your taste buds and metabolism, what kind of tea would it produce for you?

7. If you have not already read it, or if you can remember the first time, what creatures do you think are smartest? Second smartest?

8. What are your thoughts on Zaphod’s self cauterized brain?

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

10 Replies

1. Trillian’s “reappearance” later in the plot thoroughly unsettles Arthur. Why is this character taken from a bit cameo to a full-fledged protagonist? How does Arthur’s rivalry with Zaphod alter his behavior?

I thought that the coming together of Arthur and Trillian again was an example of what happened when the Improbability Drive was used — something totally random. But in this case it was an example of a personal failure Arthur had experienced, and a reminder of Earth at the same time. So for all of those reasons it was an unsettling experience.

Gosh, to be honest, I didn’t think Arthur was fully developed as a character enough to see a lot of change in him, whether as a result of rivalry or otherwise.

2. Explore the notion of a manically depressed robot.

A silly thing. ;-) Also, the ship’s computer was completely perky and chirpy, exactly the opposite, which I suppose shows in some way that however advanced artificial intelligence is, it’s not as fully formed and complex as the real thing.

My Q

3. There are many improabilities occuring, even when the drive is not in use. Do you believe that using the heart of gold causes improbability ripples? (or for a better term, ongoing butterfly effects for every time it is used. For example; everyone knowing one another already on board the heart of gold)

I think we are meant to believe that using the improbability drive causes random things to occur, as well as unlikely coincidences.

4. It seems (almost) everyone on board the heart of gold has their own way of coping with not being able to get to sleep. what do you think their reactions tell us about each of them. What’s your method?

Except for Arthur who is having no trouble as he’s tired, they all seem to be thinking about different things and not really trying to sleep. Trillian thinks and walks to a different location on the ship, Zaphod thinks, Ford thinks and then gives up and tries to write. I usually count or try to meditate or read.

5. In Chapter 15 Adams seems to be making a statement about money trying to buy happiness, what did you take away from this chapter?

Basically the message seems to be that if you can have anything, even your own custom made planet, life becomes very boring indeed.

What world would you want to build?

I think one very like ours but hopefully a much more peaceful one.

6. “When the ‘Drink’ button is pressed it makes an instant but highly detailed examination of the subject’s taste buds, a spectroscopic analysis of the subject’s metabolism, and then sends tiny experimental signals down the neural pathways to the taste centres of the subject’s brain to see what is likely to be well received. However, no-one knows quite why it does this because it then invariably delivers a cupful of liquid that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_in_The_Hitchhiker%27s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy#Nutrimatic_Drinks_Dispenser

If a device like the Heart of Gold’s Nutri-Matic (if it worked properly) spectroscopically analyzed your taste buds and metabolism, what kind of tea would it produce for you?

Probably something with the Samovar black tea base. That really floats my boat.

7. If you have not already read it, or if you can remember the first time, what creatures do you think are smartest? Second smartest?

Hmmm. Well, as far as Earth creatures, obviously we’re meant to believe the mice are the smartest. Then the dolphins and then the humans.

8. What are your thoughts on Zaphod’s self cauterized brain?

I wanted to know what was in his brain that caused him to do that to himself. It made me curious, immediately.

1. yea he was kind of shallow clerks like “i wasn’t supposed to be here today” for the first bit

7. before they told you, did you suspect any particular creatures? i was always like “omg, no idea”

8. have you finished yet (i won’t post spoilers here though if you have, i’ll go put them at the end)? i’d love to go chat about this page turning mystery!

Yes, I finished a week or two ago. Nah, i didn’t have any preconceived ideas. I just hoped it would be interesting. :-)

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1. Trillian’s “reappearance” later in the plot thoroughly unsettles Arthur. Why is this character taken from a bit cameo to a full-fledged protagonist? How does Arthur’s rivalry with Zaphod alter his behavior?

I agree that she’s used to illustrate the affects of the drive, as well as provide at least one more surviving earth inhabitant. I think it gives Arthur a bit to be angry about, a little backbone perhaps.

2. Explore the notion of a manically depressed robot.

I love the earlier eeyore reference! It gives me a thing to count on to point out the worst in the situation, if he were all cheery he might help out too much and not enable all the adventures that occur! It certainly makes me glad GPP aren’t standard, and illustrates how complex personalities are.

3. There are many improbabilities occurring, even when the drive is not in use. Do you believe that using the heart of gold causes improbability ripples? (or for a better term, ongoing butterfly effects for every time it is used. For example; everyone knowing one another already on board the heart of gold)

At first I always assumed things were only improbably when it was on (way back when) but it seems when it’s on improbability goes CRAZY, otherwise it just nudges coincidence of those around it.

4. It seems (almost) everyone on board the heart of gold has their own way of coping with not being able to get to sleep. what do you think their reactions tell us about each of them. What’s your method?

Well it highlights how Ford really is a writer, writer’s block and all, it must have been hard living on a planet for 15 years with only two words to show for it! Zaphod is self obsessed and as random as ever, and trillian seems lonely, staring at her mice.

I drink some tea and read a book when I am trying to hunker down

5. In Chapter 15 Adams seems to be making a statement about money trying to buy happiness, what did you take away from this chapter?

Anyone can get bored, some people just do it in flashy ways, owning things doesn’t make you less bored, you should DO something.

What world would you want to build?

Something like this one, but with arc reactors and no oil, and more forests and less city, and less bugs that eat people

Thanks to gmathis
6. “When the ‘Drink’ button is pressed it makes an instant but highly detailed examination of the subject’s taste buds, a spectroscopic analysis of the subject’s metabolism, and then sends tiny experimental signals down the neural pathways to the taste centres of the subject’s brain to see what is likely to be well received. However, no-one knows quite why it does this because it then invariably delivers a cupful of liquid that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_in_The_Hitchhiker%27s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy#Nutrimatic_Drinks_Dispenser

If a device like the Heart of Gold’s Nutri-Matic (if it worked properly) spectroscopically analyzed your taste buds and metabolism, what kind of tea would it produce for you?

I love BOLD tastes, and sweetness, I think some kind of amplified H&S florence.

7. If you have not already read it, or if you can remember the first time, what creatures do you think are smartest? Second smartest?

I can’t remember who i thought might be the smartest when I first read it, before the told me

8. What are your thoughts on Zaphod’s self cauterized brain?

It always drove me crazy, why did he do tat to himself, it really is a crazy main mystery. His reasoning is good, he’s just lucky he found what he did to himself, or at least that he is impulsive. But my question always was, it’s it’s all sealed off – how do the impulses come from it?

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Explore the notion of a manically depressed robot.

I liked this notion! These robots are based on GPP (Genuine People Personalities) and were a failed prototype. I think this is yet another way Adams is trying to take the air out of us humans :) There is no way we would want a robot to ACTUALLY be like a genuine human with all of our faults!

If a device like the Heart of Gold’s Nutri-Matic (if it worked properly) spectroscopically analyzed your taste buds and metabolism, what kind of tea would it produce for you?

First off, the tea would have a HECK of a lot of caffeine in it (as I’ve said before I think I actually have coffee and tea flowing through my veins and not blood). I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the elusive Andrews and Dunham Damn Fine Tea Yunnan!!! I think that was the strongest tea I have ever experienced!!!!

In Chapter 15 Adams seems to be making a statement about money trying to buy happiness, what did you take away from this chapter? What world would you want to build?

I agree with Morgana’s answer about the message :)

I would want to build a world like Earth – Earth is real pretty and miraculous! – with MANY less people on it, set up like the society in this sort of cult classic book called Ecotopia:

http://www.amazon.com/Ecotopia-Ernest-Callenbach/dp/0960432019/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1276092954&sr=8-1-spell

My coworker lent it to me and every time we have troubles we say “Well in Ecotopia they would have ______!!” It is a much more socialist system. Everyone is supported to a basic extent, and everyone works toward the greater good of the society to a certain extent. You then have an opportunity to do more work if you wish to have more money. There are no extremes of wealth and poverty. There is a great respect for nature, art and learning. Pretty much everything I believe in :) One of my senior seminars in college was “Utopian Fiction” and I’ve read quite a few of these sorts of books, but this is the one that makes the most sense to me. It’s no great work of fiction, but I’d like to live there!!!

gmathis said

I think this is yet another way Adams is trying to take the air out of us humans :)

Nicely put!

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gmathis said

Sorry…falling behind!

Explore the notion of a manically depressed robot.

First idea that pops into my head is, “See? Technology doesn’t make life all that much better!” Giving away age here (hear my wrinkles crackling), but I’m a little generally distressed at the way-too-plugged-in worldview of my peers and youngers. Marvin, bless him, is the antithesis of “better living through electronics.”

My Q

4. It seems (almost) everyone on board the heart of gold has their own way of coping with not being able to get to sleep. what do you think their reactions tell us about each of them. What’s your method?

The fact that they’re awake clues us in that Trillian/Ford/Zaphod are already accustomed to the eccentricities of space travel. Arthur is so bewildered and exhausted, he can’t help but fall out.

Of late (long story that would sound a lot like Marvin), I’m the poster child for insomnia, so not sure I have any helpful sleep tips. Years as a Sunday school teacher helps; I have a know-by-rote collection of palms and verses that help to ease the mid-night adrenaline. I have also discovered that bodily getting up and doing some basic yoga-ish stretches instead of tossing and turning helps “re-set” a frazzled body in the middle of the night.

If a device like the Heart of Gold’s Nutri-Matic (if it worked properly) spectroscopically analyzed your taste buds and metabolism, what kind of tea would it produce for you?

Something dark and black and malty (a first flush Assam) that has the sedative properties of high-strength chamomile!

8. What are your thoughts on Zaphod’s self cauterized brain?

It doesn’t surprise me that Zaphod did this, though I don’t quite understand why: he has the “oh-gee-what-happens-if-I-stick-this-penny-in-my-nose” tendencies of a hyperactive third grade boy…so a little self-surgery with a soldering iron…why not?

that sound like a very justiposed tea, i’d love it if someone came up with that

Ha! love the oh-gee-what-happens-if-I-stick-this-penny-in-my-nose I can see that!

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Janefan said

Sorry, busy week… not a lot of coherent thoughts this week. These are the only q’s I have gut responses to. May be next week will be better for me!

2. Explore the notion of a manically depressed robot.
I like Eddie, the over-eager ship’s computer, and the smug, self-satisfied automatic doors even better. Marvin is depressed because he feels unfulfilled – he’s so smart that is job is very easy, therefore very boring. That just depresses me…

4. It seems (almost) everyone on board the heart of gold has their own way of coping with not being able to get to sleep. what do you think their reactions tell us about each of them. What’s your method?
When I remember to, and really need, it, RoT’s “Get some Zzz’s” tea seems to work for me.

6. If a device like the Heart of Gold’s Nutri-Matic (if it worked properly) spectroscopically analyzed your taste buds and metabolism, what kind of tea would it produce for you?
I love the description “almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.” I wonder if it tastes like Nestea (or Nas-tea, as I call it…). A working nutria-matic would probably make something different for me every day, because I don’t know what my “ideal” tea is. It would probably be like a better version of Stash’s Christmas Morning, in which “each tea adds its distinctive flavor notes — Indian Assam imparts a malty flavor, the Formosa Oolong adds bright, fruity flavor notes, the China Keemun a hint of smokiness, our First Flush Darjeeling adds a flowery note, the Yunnan and Nilgiri add richness, and the Jasmine imparts a lingering, sweet fragrance.” (I’ve only had this bagged, so I’m looking forward to ordering a fresh, full-leaf batch in the late Fall)

8. What are your thoughts on Zaphod’s self cauterized brain?
It’s a wonderful metaphor for his utter lack of self-knowledge…

mmm i do love jasmine

and another great point about zaphod, it does seem he has a lot of layers (onion!)

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