Life, the Universe, and Everything

One of my favorite books in the world is the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Incidentally, it’s also one of my favorite radio shows. I’ve never played the video game, but I’m sure that would be up there as well. I also (gasp!) enjoyed the movie when I saw it at a midnight showing in college.

I’ve read the first four books (the copy I had growing up was the “trilogy in four parts”) at least 10 times. And yet I don’t think I’ve re-read it in the last 10 years. Until two months ago. I borrowed the ebook from the library and it was like hanging out with an old friend.

Even Marvin’s grumpiness makes me feel warm and fuzzy. (image via)


Then my (human) friend chose the next book for book club and it was the 6th book in the trilogy! And Another Thing by Eoin Colfer was written with the support of Douglas Adams’s widow and published in 2006 – which means I HAVEN’T READ IT. In order to do so, I had to start at the beginning. So my housemate loaned me her copy of the trilogy in four parts and I sat down to read it from the beginning. (Yes, this is normal behaviour for me. Yes, I did this with Harry Potter too. Yes, there were other things I could have been doing than re-reading 3,300 or so pages before the last book came out, but let’s be honest here, would they really have been better things?)

That was last Wednesday. I’m almost done with the third book. I have a much greater appreciation for the Krikkit Wars now that I’ve watched a game. And for Bistro math, now that I’ve seen how astrophysics is done. And for the the genius that was Douglas Adams, because it’s true.

So that’s what I’ve been thinking about recently – how awesome books are like old friends, how science can be satirized and still make sense, and how Thursdays can be the start of amazing adventures. Even this afternoon, I was giving an AstroTour to a class of 52 girls in year seven (with no astro background) and we get to the part where we are comparing the sizes of stars. I usually pause the movie at Betelgeuse – mostly because it’s the one star visible in the Southern Hemisphere that I know both the location and the name of – and ask if anyone can tell me where it is. (Orion’s shoulder, in case you are wondering). Even as I mention this for the purpose of making a real world connection for the students, I can’t help but look at Betelgeuse on the screen without thinking “Ford Prefect is from that area.” This is how much these books/radio shows/movies/etc. have steeped into my consciousness.

But it’s not just my consciousness. It’s the geek consciousness at large. One of the girls came up to me as the class was filing out and asked “What’s the answer to the Universe?” As I opened my mouth to say 42, she continued: “Because when you look it up online, it just gives a number. Like 42 or something…”

For the record, I always know where my towel is.

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~ by Genevieve on October 29, 2013.

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