Earth is destroyed to make way for the new hyperspace bypass. Nobody in the Galaxy seems to care, except for Arthur Dent – the last human alive. Arthur is saved from the certain doom by his eccentric friend Ford Prefect, who turned out to be from a different planet, and who conveniently knew how to hitch a lift from a passing spaceship. The two are now on the road of their lifetime to update the Hitchhiker’s Guide, to get in trouble with various alien nations, and to get involved in the search for a mythical planet.
The book is based on a series of radio shows, and it really shows. Most of the humour is dialogue based, and many situations are not described by the narrator, but are talked out by the characters. There are a lot conversations that exist just for the sake of comedy relief, but have nothing to do with the actual plot. As for the storyline, the author himself writes the following in the preface:
Writing episodically meant that when I finished one episode I had no idea about what the next one would contain (Douglas, viii).
The plot seems to loop and jerk in unpredictable directions. And surprisingly it works for this book. The Guide is proud of being ridiculous and weird, and contradictory at parts. Also, I do believe it is very important to read the entire series to complete the experience, so I am yet to form a final opinion on why this book became a classic of science fiction. For now, I’d give it a 5 as a superb representative of its genre, but only a 3 as a literary work of art.