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New Hitchhiker's Guide Book "Not Very Funny" 410

Posted by timothy
from the trying-to-meet-a-high-standard dept.
daria42 writes "An early review of part of the Eoin Colfer-penned sequel to Douglas Adams's Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy series has panned the book as not being very funny. If you read Hitchhiker to have a good laugh, maybe you're going to be disappointed," wrote Nicolas Botti, on his Douglas Adams fan site earlier this month."
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New Hitchhiker's Guide Book "Not Very Funny"

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  • meh (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Dyinobal (1427207) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @07:40PM (#29141107)
    I always found humor in literature overrated. A few funny bits in any book is fine, but to read an entire book that was suppose to be funny. I dunno I can't see myself enjoying it that much. Even if the jokes were intelligent and witty.
  • Re:meh (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @07:45PM (#29141147)

    I always found humor in literature overrated.

    Just because everyone praises the Emporer's new clothes, it doesn't mean he's wearing any.

    Also, the new /. appearance is very confusing. Why would you put a separation line *before* the link to the comments?

  • Re:meh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dangitman (862676) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @08:06PM (#29141351)

    A few funny bits in any book is fine, but to read an entire book that was suppose to be funny.

    I'm not sure how we're supposed to take your opinion on literature seriously, after you wrote that sentence.

  • by wowbagger (69688) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @08:10PM (#29141395) Homepage Journal

    Sorry, but the LAST HHGTTG book, "Mostly Harmless", wasn't all that funny, either - and that WAS written by Douglas himself.

    Considering that it ended with the destruction of pretty much EVERYTHING, I don't see how the new book could even BE - let alone BE FUNNY, unless the do a complete reboot of the HHGTTG universe.

    ("...with younger, edgier characters!")

  • by harmonise (1484057) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @08:17PM (#29141451)

    Maybe the reviewer didn't appreciate the type of humor in the book. I read Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy years ago and didn't find it to be very funny, so maybe I will find this one funny instead.

  • Like 4 and 5 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fyoder (857358) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @08:24PM (#29141499) Homepage Journal

    If you read Hitchhiker to have a good laugh, maybe you're going to be disappointed,"

    So its like books 4 and 5 then. I thought book 4 was the best in the series, though I think I'm in the minority since lots of people didn't like it because it didn't have a laugh a sentence.

    I disliked the 5th book so much I seem to have successfully suppressed it in my memory to the point where I don't even remember what it was about. Perhaps there wasn't even a 5th book and I'm just confused.

  • Re:Oh, come on... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Thursday August 20, 2009 @08:42PM (#29141645)

    They said the same thing about the Hollywood movie, and look how that turned...

    You know, the movie is definitely not as _funny_ as the books, but I think they definitely made the main characters more _likeable_, especially Arthur. If you paid attention, they showed Ford using a towel in many of the appropriate ways, they just didn't call attention to it, which, to me, wasted a great opportunity.

    For me, the funniest parts of the books are the excerpts from the Guide (especially the part about how the Babel Fish has been used for the non-existence of God). If they had added just a couple of minutes to put those into the movie, I think I would've liked it much, much more.

    I love how they slipped the Marvin costume from the old tv show into the scene where there're a lot of people standing in line. Plus you've got to admit Alan Rickman *IS* Marvin. Who knew Marvin and Professor Snape had so much in common?

  • Re:The ending? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @08:49PM (#29141717) Homepage Journal

    Orson Scott Card said he battled with this when he finished the Ender's Game quartet. People wanted more sequels. He killed the main character, but others felt he still left a door open. Orson Scott Card said in future series he would have to make sure the door was firmly closed shut when he ended something so that people knew it was over.

  • done with hitchhiker (Score:5, Interesting)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @09:25PM (#29141971) Journal

    I think Mostly Harmless made it pretty clear that Douglas Adams was more than done with the series. If any further proof was necessary, I had an opportunity to talk with Adams shortly before his death, and got the same impression -- he was sick of the series, and wrote Mostly Harmless because he had to.

    I would much rather have read a third Dirk Gentley novel than a half-hearted Hitchhiker novel, and might have but for rabid Hitchhiker fans. Not that I'm bitter.

    It doesn't really matter what the new novel is like. I'm done with that.

  • Re:it doesn't matter (Score:2, Interesting)

    by EvanED (569694) <evaned&gmail,com> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @10:03PM (#29142205)

    I was also not a fan of Mostly Harmless; wikipedia says Adams said that he was disappointed with the bleak nature of the book, and would have written the 6th more upbeat; it's quite possible that this would have improved it.

    (Incidentally, anyone think that the reviewer missed the perfect opportunity to call the new book "mostly unfunny", or "almost but not quite entirely unlike humor"?)

  • Re:Surprise? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @10:23PM (#29142319)

    I'm totally blowing my ability to mod because of this, but I hated the ending of the last book for the longest time. Now I think it's kinda funny, like some kind of uber-joke you might not "get" for a while but keeps growing on you. It was a completely appropriate way to end the series.

    It matches extremely well with someone's explanation of where "42" actually came from - they said it's binary.

    Hold your hands up to your face, palms facing you, thumbs in.

    Now, assume each digit of "42" represents one hand - i.e. 4 is left hand 2 is right hand.

    Now, what's 4 in binary? 0100

    And what's 2 in binary? 0010

    Match your fingers with the digits, and you get a glorious double-middle-finger flipping off everyone, kinda like the ending of the 5th book.

    My favorite joke in the book, though, was the running "flowerpot that says 'oh no not again'" joke. That and flying. And crickett. Top 3, ok?

  • Re:Oh, come on... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jurily (900488) <jurily AT gmail DOT com> on Friday August 21, 2009 @12:48AM (#29143247)

    But it was still funny and entertaining in the same way that I expected a Douglass Adams work to be.

    It was funny and entertaining in the same way I expected a movie version of a book to be.

    Much of the fun in the books come from the unique descriptions Mr. Adams used. Trying to preserve those on screen felt forced at best, and broke the film into small pieces connected with long pauses. Not good.

    Also, I found the Vogons to be more pathetic than ugly and scary.

  • by DMoylan (65079) on Friday August 21, 2009 @01:05AM (#29143327)

    dig out a copy of last chance to see. that has some of adam's best work...

    Sleeping in Labuan Bajo, however, is something of an endurance test.
    Being woken at dawn by the cockerels is not in itself a problem. The problem arises when the cockerels get confused as to when dawn actually is. They suddenly explode into life squawking and screaming at about one o'clock in the morning. At about one-thirty they eventually realise their mistake and shut up, just as the major dog-fights of the evening are getting under way. These usually start with a few minor bouts between the more enthusiastic youngsters, and then the full chorus of heavyweights weighs in with a fine impression of what it might be like to fall into the pit of hell with the London Symphony Orchestra.
    It is then quite an education to learn that two cats fighting can make easily as much noise as forty dogs. It is a pity to have to learn this at two-fifteen in the morning, but then the cats have a lot to complain about in Labuan Bajo. They all have their tails docked at birth, which is supposed to bring good luck, though presumably not to the cats.
    Once the cats have concluded their reflections on this, the cockerels suddenly get the idea that it's dawn again and let rip. It isn't, of course. Dawn is still two hours away, and you still have the delivery van horn-blowing competition to get through to the accompaniment of the major divorce proceedings that have suddenly erupted in the room next door.
    At last things calm down and your eyelids begin to slide thankfully together in the blessed predawn hush, and then, about five minutes later, the cockerels finally get it right.

  • Re:Oh, come on... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tygerstripes (832644) on Friday August 21, 2009 @04:29AM (#29144143)

    For all the criticisms I've heard about the film - some of them justifiable, some just uninformed fan-boy ranting - there is one aspect in which the film excelled: The Book.

    Perfectly quirky, simple-looking, clean animation, a "please remain calm" backing track, and the narration masterfully voiced by a calm, eloquent Stephen Fry. Just about the only person who could've done it better than the two radio-series narrators. I feel confident in saying it will never be done better.

  • Re:stupid (Score:3, Interesting)

    by clickclickdrone (964164) on Friday August 21, 2009 @04:34AM (#29144163)
    Bringing Lucas into the equation is an interesting one. I really liked the first 3 Star Wars movies but after that, I think it was just the force of the initial success pushing things along. If it weren't for those, most subsequent SW stuff whether it's the films or the novels wouldn't have been nearly as successful because frankly, they weren't that good. It was all intertia.
    For me, Adams is similar. I used to be a Radio 4 fan far earlier than was probably good for me and used to listen to it as a matter of course as a teen. I remember the first airing of the first episode and was so blown away by it I couldn't wait to get to school next day to tell everyonre about it. From then on, those first two series were like I'd died and gone to heaven. Ditto for the books. However, anything that came after that was for me, pretty lame. Even the later Dirk Gently books were pretty poorly written and had little compelling content. As someone else said, it is the Emporer's New Clothes - if Adams farted in a bottle everyone would say how fantastic it was. The reality was that it just wasn't - he was being held up by those first two HHGTTG series. Everything else he wrote after that was an also ran.
    Apart from anything else, he was by all accounts a nightmare to work with and left a trail of unfinished projects and pices for other people to pick up as he flitted from one thing to another. Look at the stories of the first and (subsequently canned second) Hitchhiker's Infocom games for examples.
    I wouldn't take anything away from him for those first two radio series - they were brilliant, whether by luck or ability but after that, it was intertia. Pretty much everyone I know read every subsequent book even though they freely admitted after each one it was more than a bit 'meh'.
  • Re:stupid (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tpholland (968736) on Friday August 21, 2009 @04:43AM (#29144195)
    Maybe it's because TV and movies--regardless of how much the original director or writer put in--are always a team effort, the product of lots of different actors', artists' and technician's visions. A novel on the other hand is the unique product of a single imagination, so it inevitably carries a stronger stamp of its creator.
  • by Kerr (889580) * on Friday August 21, 2009 @06:08AM (#29144489)
    Mod parent up. I was about to post this observation myself.

    The HHTG series got less funny as it progressed, as Adams grew more frustrated with writing.
    He hated writing with a passion, and often had to be locked in his office to meet deadlines. Since the fourth and fifth books of the trilogy were new material rather than expanded radio scripts, they suffer from this far more obviously - it took him eight years to write Mostly Harmless, with the other books all being released within two years of each-other.

    I must also note that Adams already started on a sequel, (prequel) called Young Zaphod Plays It Safe [lib.ru] Wiki [wikipedia.org]

    Unfortunately he suffered a TEF at the gym before he could finish it; his final joke.

    If you have genuine interest in his works you'd probably benefit from checking out the soon-to-be-released BBC remake of Last Chance To See [bbc.co.uk] Wiki [wikipedia.org] - A short documentary series following some of the worlds most endangered animals, Due to start September 6th on BBC2

    The entire radio miniseries is available on the BBC website linked above, and is drenched in Adam's usual style.

  • Re:meh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by itsdapead (734413) on Friday August 21, 2009 @08:42AM (#29145137)

    You didn't read Discworld, then?

    Depends which ones: The first couple of Discworld books were very much a series of set-piece jokes tied together by a loose plot - very much like the Hitch-Hikers Guide but with wizzards and dragons instead of robots and space ships... However, as the books went on the emphasis shifted from comedy towards plot and character.

    The recent City Watch books are more hard-boiled detective and social commentary. Pratchett's most recent book, "Nation" was decidedly not a comedy.

    Mind you, I get the distinct impression that Pratchett sets out to tell the story he wants to tell and doesn't really agonize over genres. You can only spot his children's books because they're 50 pages shorter and omit the full lyrics of "The Hedgehog Song".

  • Re:meh (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 21, 2009 @12:54PM (#29148027)

    "Oh, Dear." uttered the ghost of Douglas. The ghosts of the other authors twittered behind him. "We told you this would happen" spat Tolkien, who had assumed a rather ungainly set of almost holographic elven ears...

    Now I find myself wondering what a fourth Lord Of The Rings book would look like. A servant of Sauron survives, and Frodo comes back from the west to kick his ass? A servant of Sauron somehow managed to infect those western lands across the sea, and Aragorn takes an army to conquer those lands?

    I'm sure other slashdotters can think up much more painful plots for a sequel.

    Interesting enough, some time after the release J.R.R. Tolkien actually attempted to write a story set in Post-LOTR Middle Earth. As I recall, it was set centuries later and the main antagonists were a group of Men that found Orc skeletons and artificts in ruins in what used to be Mordor, eventually setting up a cult worshiping Sauron (or maybe it was Morgoth) that tries to take over Middle Earth. However, Tolkien never got farther than the basic plot outline, because he realized that both the magic and epic scale would have left his fictional world. This is because his fiction has a general trend of the fantastic elements disappearing and the world gradually becoming the mundane world we know.

  • Re:Oh, come on... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by the_other_chewey (1119125) on Friday August 21, 2009 @07:42PM (#29152175)

    Much of the fun in the books come from the unique descriptions Mr. Adams used.

    Exactly. How do you film a spaceship that hangs in the sky in much the same way that a brick doesn't?

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