Sunday, October 28, 2012

Rosy's scrawled book recommendation: Starship Titanic by Douglas Adams and Terry Jones

Starship Titanic
Terry Jones and Douglas Adams


Arguably the greatest collaboration in the whole history of comedy!
Bestselling author Douglas Adams wrote the storyline based on his CD-ROM game of the same name (as this novel, not as him, obviously).
Terry Jones of Monty Python wrote the book. In the nude! Parents be warned! Most of the words in this book were written by a naked man!
So. You want to argue with that? All right, we give in.
Starship Titanic is the greatest, most fabulous, most technologically advanced interstellar cruise line ever built. It is like a cross between the Queen Mary, the Chrysler Building, Tutankhamen's tomb, and Venice. Furthermore, it cannot possibly go wrong...
Sadly, however, seconds after its launch it undergoes SMEF, or Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure. And disappears.
Except, everything's got to be somewhere.
Coming home that night, on a little known planet called Earth, Dan and Lucy Gibson find something very large and very, very shiny sticking into their house...

Ballantine Books


Rosy's scrawlings on Starship Titanic
Years ago, back when I was a late teen I bought a copy of this book and read it. I then lost it somehow, bought a new one and reread it. Then proceeded to lose that copy as well. So I bought it a third time only to find the second copy again. Now, with two copies available to read and one untouched, I decided to give it another whirl, this time breaking in the new copy. There are few books that have gone though this type of cycle on my shelves and it is a sign of a loved book, as important a sign as my keeping a book in perfect nick.
This book is a quick blast, a lot of fun and utterly ridiculous from beginning to end. That said, under all the creativity, tangents and silliness there are a few little grains of truth. Just a few scattered about for the more perceptive of readers. Mostly though, there are healthy doses of invented words, strange situations, well-known and wearing travel issues writ anew and dramatic events.

The characters within Starship Titanic are likable in some ways and thoroughly awful in others. Their faults and flaws are written large while their nicer or more acceptable traits require some searching for. They are there though. I have to say, without giving away anything, that I like the way the relationships were sorted out. The plot is quick paced once the starship is launched and although not completely original with regards to Douglas Adams it is rather unusual in the scheme of all other science fiction. To top it off there's a lot of laughs and silly ideas to run with.

There is one thing that needs to be said though. Nearly everyone who's read and liked The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy will likely judge this book against it. By doing so, some will love Starship Titanic and others will find it disappointing. To be perfectly honest though, you should probably avoid judging it against Hitchhikers and rather see it as a short aside. There are several similar elements to it and some rather obvious ones in the plotting. One of the girls takes with an alien and leaves her mostly normal and a little timid boyfriend behind. There's a revolutionary spaceship that disappears upon its launch, although this time it isn't stolen. There's also robots with personalities and instead of sighing doors there's talking lampshades and lifts going on about surviving a war.
What this means is that some of the elements have come from Douglas Adams' mind, where such ideas had been rattling about due to Hitchhikers. This is also perfectly allowable as we are talking stories within the same universe: the Hitchhiker style universe. Without similar elements it wouldn't be Hitchhikers related at all, not even with regards to the universe (as opposed to the Whoniverse or the Trekiverse). Otherwise, Terry Jones leaves his mark on the writing style, even though it has been worked to fit well with Douglas Adams' Starship Titanic game plot. The writing style isn't as highbrow as some of Terry Jones' other comedy works (sounds funny to say so but he does have a way with words and a lot of subtlety when writing works all his own) but there's quite a lot of his wit and quirky word usage to be enjoyed. This is a collaboration and one that worked extremely well.

I'd recommend this book to: anyone who like either of the author/comedian's works, fans of The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, Dr Who fans and those who like science-fiction/fantasy comedy. Also, those who just like sentences written in interesting ways, odd words and the unexpected.

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