cover image Douglas Adams' Starship Titanic

Douglas Adams' Starship Titanic

Douglas Adams, Terry Jones. Harmony, $20 (246pp) ISBN 978-0-609-60103-7

The Starship Titanic, the crowning work of Leovinus, ""the greatest genius of his age,"" has been sabotaged by Antar Brobostigan and his corrupt accountant, Droot Scraliontis, in an insurance scam that bankrupts the planet of Yassacca. On its maiden flight, the ship suffers SMEF (Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure) and winds up on Earth, where its robots invite a quarrelsome trio of ordinary humans aboard. A journalist stowaway falls in love with one of them, but the beloved must put him off long enough to talk an artificially intelligent bomb out of exploding the ship. Jones, one of the creators of Monty Python's Flying Circus, has taken a story line by Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) and incubated it in a rich medium of whimsy and satire to produce this absurd, rollicking space adventure. The plot makes just enough sense to exist at all; indeed the narration often goes back on itself, canceling things out or ridiculously revising. It is the scenes that count, like TV sitcom scenes, full of one-liners, many very funny, but with a modicum of clunkers. There is an embedded satire of commercial airline jargon and of all that is bureaucratically officious. The catalogue of characters' names itself is a riot: Unctimpoter, Inchbewigglit, Buke-Hammadorf. Now and then, the tone becomes too precious, and the occasional attempts at a kind of psychological naturalism in exploring the Earthlings' feelings fall flat. The book succeeds in its main purpose, however: it will make readers laugh. (Oct.)