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Old 01-22-2011, 01:35 PM   #17
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: New Jersey
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I've read HHGG before, but it was more than 10 years ago. I knew I enjoyed it back then, so I was more than willing to give it another go.

Personally I love the humor in it, but then I've always been a fan of the British style of humor, and I knew pretty much all of the references in the book (like why Ford Prefect is a funny choice, what a zebra crossing is, and so on).

But what really stood out to me this time around - and obviously would not have last time - is how many parallels you can draw between The Hitchhiker's Guide (the book within the novel) and Wikipedia.

Originally Posted by Douglas Adams
In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitchhiker’s Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects.

First, it is slightly cheaper; and second, it has the words DON’T PANIC inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.
A reference that contains many omissions and much that is apocryphal or wildly inaccurate, but is way more popular than a "proper" encyclopedia? Sounds like a match to me.

Or maybe this passage which, while not directly applicable to Wikipedia, certainly seems to be in the same spirit, as to how it treats popular topics compared to the way a regular encyclopedia would.

Originally Posted by Douglas Adams
Here’s what the Encyclopedia Galactica has to say about alcohol. It says that alcohol is a colorless volatile liquid formed by the fermentation of sugars and also notes its intoxicating effect on certain carbon-based life forms.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy also mentions alcohol. It says that the best drink in existence is the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.
And then finally I got to this passage, where the Hitchhiker's Guide seems not only like a portable copy of some Wikipedia-like reference, but also a lot like modern e-book readers:

Originally Posted by Douglas Adams
...he also had a device that looked rather like a largish electronic calculator. This had about a hundred tiny flat press buttons and a screen about four inches square on which any one of a million “pages” could be summoned at a moment’s notice. It looked insanely complicated, and this was one of the reasons why the snug plastic cover it fitted into had the words DON’T PANIC printed on it in large friendly letters. The other reason was that this device was in fact that most remarkable of all books ever to come out of the great publishing corporations of Ursa Minor—The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The reason why it was published in the form of a micro sub meson electronic component is that if it were printed in normal book form, an interstellar hitchhiker would require several inconveniently large buildings to carry it around in.
I enjoyed the story on its own merits, but I think this actually made me enjoy it even more.

The other new thing this time around is that Marvin's lines were all read by Alan Rickman in my head.
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