A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Saturday Shorts Week 23
Welcome to our weekend series for 2014. Every Saturday this year one of our staff will suggest a favorite short story from the library’s collection, all of them a great choice for quick weekend reading.
I meant to start Ann and Jeff Vandermeer’s anthology The Time Traveller’s Almanac at the beginning. After all, it kicks off with a Richard Matheson story called “Death Ship” and that sounded promising. But a little aimless page flipping landed me at the opening of “Young Zaphod Plays it Safe” by Douglas Adams.
Just think, a whole new chapter from the life of the two-headed President of the Galaxy (not to mention seven time winner of Worst Dressed Sentient Being in the Known Universe) Zaphod Beeblebrox, hitherto unknown to me but waiting patiently just 158 pages into a hulking time travel anthology. Who could resist jumping right in?
And it turns out to be a great place to start. We do indeed meet a younger Zaphod than the one from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He’s running a salvage operation and cracking wise to the corporation that hired him to recover some toxic waste that was meant to be launched into a black hole, not crashed on an inhabited planet.
We get to explore the now polluted planet just a little. There are some primitive natives, a lot of lobsters, a few scallops, and a bit of sick in a diving suit. There’s also a unique take on time travel and a clever, if somewhat dated, punchline to the last paragraph. It’s classic Douglas Adams and it’s good humor might even get you hyped up enough to take on the other 900 pages of time travel stories ahead.
Review by Matthew