Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Book Review: "Starship Titanic" by Douglas Adams and Terry Jones

As I was reading this book I was constantly saddened by the fact that we will never get to read any further stories of Dirk Gently, Zaphod Beeblebrox,Ford Prefect, Arthur Dent et. al. That's because Douglas Adams passed away back in 2001. He did leave us a legacy of a trilogy of 5 books in the Hitchhiker's Guide books, (Yes I know a trilogy is 3 but try and explain that to a dead man.) 2 Dirk Gently books (and a bonus book of leftover stuff that was never finished in the Dirk Gently Realm titled "The Salmon of Doubt"), "The Meaning of Liff," "The Deeper Meaning of Liff," "Last Chance to See" (a great non-fiction book in which Mr. Adams goes around the world to view and write about endangered species). These are the only books I read more than once. Usually I read a book and I'm done with it, but with Douglas Adams they are written with so much depth and humor that something new is discovered in each reading.

If you are not familiar with Douglas Adams, first of all...don't wait...rush out now and grab a copy of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and get hooked, otherwise I'll try to explain. Douglas Adams has a great comedic voice in all his books, most of the time pushing to the level of absurdity. For example, the most famous aspect of the Hitchhiker's books is this, 42. Let me explain, A great computer named "Deep Thought" was built to determine the answer to life, the universe and everything. This computer thought for millions of years and finally came to the answer. That answer is 42. Well the problem is that no one knows what the question is. To determine that another computer had to be built, it's an organic computer called Earth. (yes OUR Earth) But Earth was destroyed before it could come up with the question, in order to build a hyperspace bypass. So that is a very miniscule, minute look at the humor of the man that also wrote for, "Monty Python's Flying Circus," "Doctor Who," and numerous BBC Radio programmes. (I had to use the British spelling in his honor (-: )

Another thing he did was to write a couple of computer games. The first was based on the Hitchhiker's trilogy. The second was a game called "Starship Titanic." It takes place on a starship of the same name which has undergone "Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure" and crash landed on Earth on its maiden voyage (in an allusion to the 1912 disaster involving the real-world RMS Titanic). The player acts the part of a human (whose house the starship crashed into) who goes aboard to help fix the ship, and must solve puzzles to collect the parts of the sabotaged onboard computer, Titania. Once all the parts have been collected and inserted in the correct places, Titania comes alive and talks.

So that brings us to this book. Basically Terry Jones (of Monty Python fame) has written this book and tried to copy Douglas Adams' style while adapting what was written into the game. While at times this does seem like another Douglas Adams book, there are times that it seems like a computer game and the main characters have to complete tasks before they can move up to the next level. An example of this would be when the Earthlings are "abducted" they are given commercial class status, in order to reach the captain of the ship (which we later learn there is none), they have to get upgraded to first class by finding vouchers and and then earning miles. This "puzzle-piece-plot-device" is actually very typical of many of Adam's writings and helps move many of his plots, but usually they aren't as blatent as they are when Terry Jones adapts them.

The story goes that the Blerontinians have bult the ultimate starship using the plans of one of the greatest minds in the Universe, Leovinicus. But the to build the ship corners had to be cut and the ship is only partially finished when it experiences a SMEF (Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure) and crash lands on earth. When the abducted Earthlings learn where they are they must get back to Earth, but they soon discover there is a bomb on board (this is to destroy the ship so the Blerontinians can collect the insurance money and make up for the building loss) and the romp through a universe only Douglas Adams could create begins.

This book is absurdly funny, sometimes bizarre, and a must read for any Douglas Adams fan. If you've never read anything by Douglas Adams, I recommend reading his other books first then come to this one because it's not PURE DOUGLAS ADAMS, it is pretty darn close, though

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posted by Gil T. @ 10:19 PM Comments: 0