Also included on this Special Edition is Douglas Adams's Guide to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, first broadcast in 1999, which looks at the genesis and phenomenal success of the series.
©2008 BBC Audiobooks Ltd; (P)2008 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
This review is specifically about the audio quality of the book. While the plethora of character voices were great, this is a radio program recording from a loooooong time ago and the quality of the audio shows. My wife and I both found it difficult to listen to in our cars because some of the voices are quiet and you have to turn it up, then all of a sudden you get a really loud high pitched space noise that blows your ears out. Constant volume knob adjustment is necessary if listening to in the car. I found listening to it at home on headphones much easier.
OK - those are strong words, and there really has been a lot of great writing in the last 50 years (I did say "possibly"). But the combination of imaginative genius, over-the-top humor and just enough philosophical thought makes H2G2 a true standout. The radio plays predated the published books, and were my first exposure to Douglas Adams in the early 1980s - they remain the best way to experience The Hitchhiker's Guide.
There are only a few audio books that I return to and listen a second time. H2G2 is an audio book that I am moved to listen to at least every two years. Basically, I'd be lost without the Guide... If I could give it six stars, I would.
P.S. Years after I fell in love with the books, I learned that Adams had been a script writer and editor for the BBC's Doctor Who, and that he was a friend of Richard Dawkins - he introduced Lalla Ward (who played Romana on Doctor Who) to Dawkins, they subsequently married. Lalla Ward co-narrates Dawkins' audio books, which I also recommend. That serves to illustrate "the interconnectedness of all all things" (which is something you'll come upon in another of Adams' books - Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.
On Wednesday, March 8th, 1978, listeners to BBC Radio 4 first learned about what is perhaps the most remarkable, certainly the most successful book ever to come out of the great publishing corporations of Ursa Minor, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the galaxy. Now, at long last, it's available through Audible! Hear how it all started. This came before the books, before the TV series and before the movie. Get it now! Don't think twice! Don't miss any of the adventures of Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect and the other characters as they take you with them on a romp through the galaxy you'll never forget! If you think you know it all because you read the books, think again. And, most of all, Don't Panic!
I bought the "non-special edition" a few years back, ripped it myself and it sounded great. I can't find my digital versions, so I bought the special edition, regardless of the other negative comments. DO NOT IGNORE THESE COMMENTS!!! This is a horrible version. The sound mix is bad. It really does sound like the guys were in different rooms.
Please, I beg you, do not get this one. If you can find the "non-special edition" get that one. Or, buy the CDs and rip it yourself.
If you are a fan of science fiction, or just comedy in general , this is a worthwhile listen. The form of humor in this series of radio shows has a very Monty Python feel, bizarre and perhaps a little random at times; however unlike python's sketch comedy and more akin to their feature films the comedy is tied together into a clever and original story arc. Whether it is proving that there is no life in the universe or finding the meaning of life in the universe, you'll find an interesting and comedic explanation to all your questions.
For those who may have seen the movie the story arc is longer and differs in some large ways, the radio show is also funnier (this is not an opinion it is a fact).
The only thing keeping this audio production from a 5 out of 5 is production quality. The production quality is over all pretty good, especially when one keeps in mind when it was produced. There are, however, a few spots in the recording where I had trouble understand what was being said due to effects placed on vocals.
All in all I would recommend this audio show to anyone who enjoys chuckling at the bizarre.
Audiobooks have literally changed my life. I now actually ENJOY doing mindless chores because they give me plenty of listening time!
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was the first radio comedy show to be recorded in stereophonic sound and it was acted out by a full cast of professional actors, but what really sets this show apart is the sound effects which were completely innovative at the time. "One of Adams's stated goals was to be experimental in the use of sound. Being a fan of Pink Floyd and The Beatles (and especially the experimental concept albums both bands produced in the late 1960s and early 1970s), Adams wanted the programme to have the feel of a "rock album...to convey the idea that you actually were on a spaceship or an alien planet — that sense of a huge aural landscape". (From Wikipedia)
Of course today, there is a quaint quality to those sound effects, but that only adds to the overall charm of the experience. I first discovered this show in the late 80s when a local radio station aired the series, and must say that more than 20 years later, a reading of the book (which not surprisingly seemed awfully flat) it felt just as fresh, off the wall and yes, innovative as it did the first time around.
Always preferred the radio series. Superb. Takes me right back !! What great memories. What a great production. If your a hitchhiker fan and dont have the radio series, buy them - you wont be disappointed.
It's just not converted to digital format well. Whispering and loud bangs, the levels are terribly normalized. Maybe if you use noice cancelling headset, and a volume knob... but not suitable for an ipod!
I know enough to know, I don't know all I want to know...
I've had this for about a week... introduced my kids to it, and now, I'm about to starting my THIRD listen!
The background info is also very fun!
My number one concern with the was the quality of the recording. It was frustrating because the sound effects would be so loud but the actual talking would be very quiet. It made the whole story very hard to listen to and really took away from the quality of the story. There were also regular endings to the episodes so you'd have to fast forward through those sections. I would only recommend listening to this version if you are already a true fan of the book.
"Everyone should download this"
I had the first two phases on CD so was glad of the opportunity to upgrade at a fair price, as a member of Audible. This audiobook is one of the best works the BBC has published, hilariously witty and amusing. I would recommend to anyone who listens to Radio 4.
"funny, adventurous and youthful"
Much has been said about radio 4 in the reviews, which might actually discourage some people from buying this. I'm a teenager who doesn't listen to radio 4 and this is the greatest and funniest audiobook i've ever had the pleasure of listening to. This book was made for young people so if you are one I can't recommend it highly enough!
Fantastic - a true muse of fire, crammed with so many ideas and such comedic brilliance that it is practically bursting at the seams.
All the others seem lame in comparison (which they aren't), like Charlie Chaplin's WW1 films - an ariadne's thread for all his other ideas.
If you haven't listened to the Primary Phase, don't just watch the film or read the book - it is essential that you try it on audiobook download, as it was ground breaking in its time, and still flawless in the present.
All in all, this is an essential audiobook, which has had profound effects on popular culture and is a Bible for anyone seeking to make headway (while avoiding cliche) in sci-fi, comedy or any pop culture field. Listen and be enriched!
"Douglas Adams was such a great writer"
I listened to the original when it was first broadcast on the radio, and have been pining for a repeat ever since - books, TV and film were only partly adequate replacements. As an added bonus, this 'special edition' recording contains not only the six broadcast episodes, also a fascinating hour-long documentary about how the first two radio series came about. I shall be downloading the Secondary Phase very soon.
"The original and best"
This is where it all began: a Radio 4 comedy show.
Everything else is a remake. The TV version looses some of the wordy humour, the book version looses some of the energy & the film version looses the point.
A wonderful cast, a humorous delight and a nice little documentary as a bonus.
This audiobook (well, original BBC comedy) is what I play at 3.00 am when I can't sleep, or when I am stuck in a traffic jam, have an enormous mound of washing up to do, or pretty much any time I really need a chuckle. Then I make up my own brand of Vogon style poetry and imagine that whoever or whatever has annoyed me is screaming in agony strapped to a Vogon poetry appreciation chair. It is a necessary part of my life. You need it too. Buy it.
"Great series, shame about the sound quality"
This is a great piece of radio, but the sound quality of this download is terrible. All in mono and badly compressed.
"Classic Radio Comedy"
It's all here; everything you could ever dream of!
This production has been cleaned up, defuzzed and streamlined and sent out as this wonderful package.
The performances are perfect, the story is sublime and this is something that can be listened and enjoyed time and time again.
Buy it, listen to it and love it!
"As good as I remember"
A brilliantly dramatised book and excellently performed. Some of the novelty has worn off with time and I knew whole passages off by heart but it still had me laughing out loud and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.
Pretty uncontroversial, this. At least, if I dare say so, for anybody with an imagination and a sense of humour.
I'd seen the television series quite recently and, for a short time, my recollections of the television scripts were distracting me from the narrative in this audiobook - it was very similar, but not identical. However, before too long the memories were usurped, and I was entirely happy to go on the adventure all over again, as though it were the first time.
Yep. It's great.
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