I should really start this review with a confession. One that will appal and shock you to the core.
I was, before listening to these, rather unfamiliar with Adams’ work Yes, I know, I know!
I had read the first novel and watched the TV show all those decades ago and had enjoyed both, but for one reason or another I had never got around to exploring the rest of the series. Upon listening to these I could not help but wonder just what the hell I was thinking.
That Douglas Adams: he was a bit good at writing, wasn’t he?
Yes, you all already know this, but let me continue anyway. Who knows, there may be other strange folks like me out there who haven’t listened to this yet.
The writing. The breadth and depth of the ideas that Adams throws out are simply breathtaking. He’ll sometimes throw out an offhand idea that another writer (me included) would have based an entire book around.
The plotting is clever and intricate. The characters are outstanding. We all love Marvin, right?
I’m not going to break each series down into their own review, but will give an overview of the entire box set. Oh, and the box from this AudioGo release itself is a gorgeous artefact in itself too.
The first series is brilliant, and I think that the second, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, is even better.
The third, ‘Life, the Universe and Everything’ was, on first listen, not as satisfying as the previous two. But on a subsequent listen it is actually much better as Adams pulls into play seemingly offhand and throwaway jokes from the earlier volumes and turning them into major plot points.
The final two, ‘So Long and Thanks for all the Fish’ and ‘Mostly Harmless’ are the weakest of the volumes. That is not to say that they are bad. They are far from that. They merely suffer from the fact that what has come before really is some of the funniest and most clever writing ever committed to the English language.
My main problem with the final two stories is that by this time it was obviously a ‘big’ thing to be on the show, so there are a distracting number of celebrity cameos in there that serve to distract from the cleverness of the writing.
The set is rounded off with a disc containing a couple of radio documentaries about the series. The best of the two shows is the second, hosted by the brilliant Barry Cryer which looks at the character of Arthur Dent and uses clips from the other show ion the disc, which is a bit strange if you listen to them back to back.
However, it is churlish to complain. This really is an honest to goodness essential purchase for anyone who has any love for comedy, sci-fi or literature.