Earth: Mostly Harmless!

Earth | Harmless | 08th July 2022 | Virtual Wire

 

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We have made wonderful developments in the field of science, engineering and warfare, humans have reigned havoc on Earth among each other. Yet many science-fiction books it’s depicted how advanced the technology and intelligence of aliens are.

In case there is an alien invasion on Earth it’s either hopeless for humanity or a very tough fight. If you were to take the opinion of Vogons and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy they would say Earth is mostly harmless. Well, if you are to ever meet a Vogon just make sure not to listen to their poetry as it can kill you. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is a science fiction book written by the late Douglas Adams and published in 1979. Originally it was a show on the radio before Adams decided to publish it as a book. A favourite of well-known celebrities such as Elon Musk and Jordan Peterson. The book is a treasure undiscovered by most of humanity.


The story follows a simple English gentleman Arthur Dent and his friend Ford Prefect an alien from a planet in the vicinity of Betelgeuse on their journey of space and survival after Earth was destroyed by the Vogons to make space for an interstellar freeway. Who are Vogons? According to the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy “They are one of the most unpleasant races in the Galaxy – not actually evil, but bad-tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous. They wouldn’t even lift a finger to save their own grandmother for the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal without orders signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public enquiry, lost again and finally buried in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighters.”

But what is the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy? “Not an Earth book, never published on Earth, and until the terrible catastrophe occurred, never seen or even heard of by any Earthmen. Nevertheless, a wholly remarkable book. In fact, it was probably the most remarkable book ever to come out of the great publishing corporations of Ursa Minor – of which no Earthmen had ever heard of either.” In short, it is an encyclopedia of everything in the Galaxy. If you ever were to look up Earth in it you will find a single entry on this unimportant and dull planet saying: Mostly Harmless. This entry was made by yours genuinely Ford Prefect. Why is the book so popular throughout the Galaxy? One because it’s slightly cheaper than the Encyclopedia Galactica. Second the words ‘Don’t

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Panic’ is written in large friendly letters on their cover.


What is the single most important piece of clothing or accessory for intergalactic travel? A towel. Want to experience a politician who doesn’t extort money but is still useless? Look no further than the President of the Galaxy Zaphod Beeblebrox, a man put on the podium just to be a distraction from the real decisions of the Galaxy. Oh yeah, he’s also a wanted fugitive for stealing the world's most fabulous spaceship the “Heart of gold”. Worried about how advanced AI and robots will take over our world? Looking at Marvin the Android I don’t think so. A depressed, suicidal and deadly bored GPP (Genuine People Personality) who’s aboard the “Heart of Gold”. He has a brain equivalent to the size of a planet which makes everything mundane and insignificant. His daily job includes opening doors, making beverages and capturing guests. Oh yeah, also occasionally talking deathly assassin robots who have equipped the best guns in the galaxy into death by making them feel sympathy for him to save his eccentric boss.


As mentioned earlier the book follows the protagonist Arthur Dent. A 30-year-old Englishman whose greatest worry was why people would ask him what he seemed to be so worried about. An employee for the local radio Arthur enjoys the simple life and a warm cup of tea as an Englishman does. But circumstances force him to travel through the galaxy without much of an opportunity to rest. Throughout his journey, we are introduced to original, unique and memorable characters, worlds, societies, cultures and inventions. Douglas Adams was the first to write science fiction in such a humorous manner without losing any excitement of the journey. Many have attempted to follow in his footsteps but none have done it as marvellously as Adams.

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Widely considered science fiction. Others may consider it a comedy. Yet for Elon Musk the book is philosophical and Douglas Adams is his favourite philosopher. He talks about it in an interview of his. Having read the book when he was 14 has had a lasting impact on him and taught him some valuable lessons. With the help of the book, he explains how sometimes finding the right question is more difficult than coming up with an appropriate answer. Keep in mind that some have called out Musk for labelling the book as philosophical and even claiming if Adams were alive, he would say Musk misinterpreted his book. I can see where Musk is coming from and so will you once you read the book. Putting all the debates and disagreements aside, everyone who has read it agrees the book is a very light read with eye-catching aspects scattered throughout.


The hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy is a trilogy of 5 books. Yes, you read that right. Originally planned as a trilogy and classified by a few circles, Adams ended up splitting the story into 5 books. So, readers have infamously started calling the series a trilogy. The five books in order are: I) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, II) The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, III) Life, the Universe and Everything, IV) So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish and V) Mostly Harmless. It's not often authors can not only keep high standards but keep the essence and flow of the story the same over 5 massive books. Each book has its own theme and setting. Once a reader has gone through the whole journey and reached the end they wish for a sweet and satisfactory end. Douglas Adams does just that. We get the perfect ending which not only closes Arthur Dent’s journey over the decades but also comes to a full circle with no broken strings. After reading the end I felt whole and savoured the ending.

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It’s a series I highly recommend picking up. It may be a long journey but at no point of the story did I ever feel it’s being dragged too long. Douglas Adams's unconventional, out-of-the-box thinking and humour will leave your stomach in pain from laughing. If you are not interested too much in science fiction don’t worry. It’s a book that can act as a beginner’s book into the world of science fiction. It has the perfect balance of adventure, simplicity, sophistication and humour. It is a journey to be savoured and entertaining for any age group over 12. I hope you pick up this book someday and experience the wonderful world of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

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