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

Here is the place where we can start discussing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (H2G2), Chapters 28 through the end.

Week 5 – June 28-30
Chapters 28-end

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. Adams frequently incorporates absurdist humor into his novel. Can Zaphod be viewed as a satirical caricature of the bumbling politician? Are there other allegories throughout the story?

2. The Heart of Gold’s improbability drive features heavily into the storyline. To great lengths, Adams works to have each scene appear as a bizzare, cynical ramble, yet at the end everything ties together. Describe how this plot element and the narrative style mirror each other.

3. Despite being practically…well, worthless throughout the entire story, the fate of the universe (at least in part) falls on Arthur Dent’s shoulders. How do his common, mundane sensibilities help him when the other characters are unable to act?

my questions;

4. Are you glad or not that your computer was nor made by The Sirius Cybernetics Corporation with ‘Genuine People Personalities.’ Do older technologies (the police ship) seem to have personalities to you or just plain anthropomorphizing?

5. Am I the only one who always wonders how did the cops found them and why were they not shot down by the automated defenses?

6. Apparently depressed robots are handy! Were you surprised by Marvin’s rescue of the trapped protagonists?

7. How do you feel about each of the characters now? Or, how has your opinion of each character changed?
Trillian?
Arthur?
Zaphod?
Ford?
Marvin?

8. How did you like the book?

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

1 Reply

1. Adams frequently incorporates absurdist humor into his novel. Can Zaphod be viewed as a satirical caricature of the bumbling politician? Are there other allegories throughout the story?

Frequently incorporates? Try: the whole thing is absurdist humor. Zaphod could be a caricature, but I don’t see him as at all bumbling. I see him more as the full of hubris politician whose power trip deludes him into thinking he can get away with pretty much everything. (Usually these are sex scandals on this planet, in his case it was stealing the Heart of Gold, but I get the feeling he probably had a bit of Gary Hart in him as well.) Allegories? Hmm. I suppose it is could be an existential allegory. Maybe the travelers (whether hitchikers or not) represent the inhabitants of what is today pretty much a transient, rootless society. There’s a lot of alienation, powerlessness, randomness, unanswered questions, and things so horrible and dangerous one must surgically remove them from memory.

2. The Heart of Gold’s improbability drive features heavily into the storyline. To great lengths, Adams works to have each scene appear as a bizzare, cynical ramble, yet at the end everything ties together. Describe how this plot element and the narrative style mirror each other.

Gosh, I think the answer is there in the third sentence of the question. It’s a pretty standard tool for the form of narrative to mirror its theme, or some other aspect of the story. The improbability drive in some ways is the narrative. How else would you get something like the sudden materialization of a whale that plummets to the surface of a planet.

3. Despite being practically…well, worthless throughout the entire story, the fate of the universe (at least in part) falls on Arthur Dent’s shoulders. How do his common, mundane sensibilities help him when the other characters are unable to act?

Basically he just figures things can’t possibly get any worse, I think, so he’s not afraid to act. He doesn’t overanalyze or worry about the consequences since the consequences have proven themselves to be so inherently unpredictable.

4. Are you glad or not that your computer was nor made by The Sirius Cybernetics Corporation with ‘Genuine People Personalities.’ Do older technologies (the police ship) seem to have personalities to you or just plain anthropomorphizing?

I try to avoid the uncanny valley whenever possible. The idea of machines being too human rather creeps me out. I keep hearing Hal singing Daisy, Daisy…

5. Am I the only one who always wonders how did the cops found them and why were they not shot down by the automated defenses?

Good question, but maybe once the automated defenses were triggered the first time they were done? I wasn’t bothered by how the cops found them, I figured that intelligence gathering and tracking ability would be pretty advanced in a society that produced the Heart of Gold.

6. Apparently depressed robots are handy! Were you surprised by Marvin’s rescue of the trapped protagonists?

I thought it was hysterical that such a short time with him was enough to talk the ship into committing suicide. Presumably, once it did, the life support systems of the police failed. It seemed to be an unintentional rescue, but a fitting one.

7. How do you feel about each of the characters now? Or, how has your opinion of each character changed?
Trillian?
Arthur?
Zaphod?
Ford?
Marvin?

None of them seemed particularly deep to me, and my opinion of them didn’t really change much. I suppose if I put my mind to it and reread the book, I could sit down with an arsenal of interpretive tools and write something that would sound like the commentary on the poetry that was so lampooned in the book, but it hardly seems worth it. I think it’s an impressionistic book in that whatever impression you get on a first read is what you’re meant to take away. I would think Adams himself would not want to encourage overanalysis in an attempt to find too much meaning in it other than what you glean in your initial read through.

8. How did you like the book?

It was a fun romp, and laugh out loud funny in places, and I’m glad I finally got to read the original source of some of the lore mentioned in one of my earlier posts.

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