Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Douglas Adams’ famous humour series has appeared in many formats – a radio show, a TV series, a film. The books, however, remain many people’s favourite. The story follows everyman Arthur Dent, who is rescued from the demolition of the planet Earth in order to build a hyperspace bypass, by his best friend Ford Prefect, who he discovers is actually an alien from “a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse.”
The books are all wonderfully inventive in their absurdity. Adams was a comic genius who managed to create both a unique and colourful universe as well as fun and compelling characters. There are laughs on every page and the series is a quick and easy read but it is also very well written and has a surprising depth. A must read.
Space Captain Smith
Toby Frost has often been referred to as Douglas Adams’ spiritual successor and his first novel, following hapless Captain Isambard Smith of the British Space Empire’s Royal Space Navy, certainly doesn’t disappoint.
The book is very accessible and laugh out loud funny, with a lot of broad humour and jokes on topics such a traditional British stuffiness. However, this is a particular treat for long time fans of science fiction, with countless references to, and homages of, classics of the genre – from _Blade Runner to Starship Troopers._
The novel also manages to be an engaging action story, of a type rarely seen nowadays in SF fiction. The plot is fast moving and exciting, while never feeling superficial, and the characters are well sketched and likable.
Early twentieth century writer Evelyn Waugh is widely regarded as one of the greatest masters of the English language. Possessed of a keen insight and sharp wit his work is always both intellectually stimulating and a pleasure to read.
This collection of short stories spans Waugh’s entire career, covering a number of different themes and styles of writing. Enthusiasts and scholars of Waugh will appreciate this book as a chance to get a better understanding of his development as a writer. Many of the stories are also linked to, and help provide one with a deeper understanding of, some of Waugh’s longer work.
The Collected Stories, however, are also a brilliant introduction to the writer for novices. Pick up the book and dive into one of the stories – you’re sure not to regret it.
The Third Bear
Jeff VanderMeer is one of the leading figures of the New Weird movement, which aims to link fantastical and supernatural fiction with high literary quality. This short collection is one of the best examples of this new subgenre.
VanderMeer has an amazing imagination, creating a wide range of fantastical, unsettling and downright bizzare settings and characters. These work well together with VanderMeer’s mastery of style, tone and atmosphere to create powerful and surreal fiction.
It is difficult to describe the individual stories since they are completely different from anything else that I have ever read before, and from each other. If you want to experience something unique and utterly original be sure to check this out.
Though first published in over 250 years ago, in 1759, Voltaire’s great satire of the classical philosophy of Leibnizian optimism still retains its relevance today.
The novel follows the eponymous protagonist, who lives in luxury in the castle of his uncle, the Baron Thunder-ten-Tronckh. Instructed and encouraged by his tutor Pangloss, he firmly believes that the world he is living in is “best of all possible worlds”. However his idyllic life is soon disrupted as he is thrown out by his uncle and, as he begins to explore the wider world, he begins to find it more and more difficult to reconcile his philosophy with the real world.
Voltaire’s legendary wit is on full display in this work and one can easily see why it has inspired so many people. It’s a very short novel, but one certainly worth looking up.