Douglas Adams's Starship Titanic

Douglas Adams's Starship Titanic

3.8 36
by Terry Jones
     
 

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In this thoroughly satisfying and completely disorienting novel based on a story line by Douglas Adams (author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), Terry Jones recounts an unforgettable tale of intergalactic travel and mishap. The saga of "the ship that cannot possibly go wrong" sparkles with wit, danger, and confusion that will keep readers guessing which

Overview

In this thoroughly satisfying and completely disorienting novel based on a story line by Douglas Adams (author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), Terry Jones recounts an unforgettable tale of intergalactic travel and mishap. The saga of "the ship that cannot possibly go wrong" sparkles with wit, danger, and confusion that will keep readers guessing which reality they are in and how, on earth, to find their way out again.

At the center of the galaxy, a vast, unknown civilization is preparing for an event of epic proportions: the launching of the greatest, most gorgeous, most technologically advanced Starship ever built-the Starship Titanic.

An earthling would see it as a mixture of the Chrysler Building, the tomb of Tutankhamen, and Venice. But less provincial onlookers would recognize it as the design of Leovinus, the galaxy's most renowned architect. He is an old man now, and the creation of the Starship Titanic is the pinnacle achievement of his twenty-year career.

The night before the launch, Leovinus is prowling around the ship having a last little look. With mounting alarm he begins to find things are not right: unfinished workmanship, cybersystems not working correctly, robots colliding with doors. How could this have happened? And how could this have happened without his knowing?

Something somewhere is terribly wrong.

On the following day, in an artificial event staged for the media, the Starship Titanic will leave its construction dock under autopilot and, a few days later, make its way to the terminal to pick up passengers for its maiden voyage. Although the ship will be deserted during its very first flight, it is nevertheless a major event, watched by all the galaxy's media.

Hugely, magnificently, the fabulous ship eases its way forward from the construction dock, picks up speed, sways a bit, wobbles a bit, veers wildly, and just before it can do massive damage to everything around it, appears to undergo SMEF (Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure).

In just ten seconds, the whole, stupendous enterprise is over. And our story has just begun.

Somehow three earthlings, one Blerontin journalist, a semideranged parrot, and a shipful of disoriented robots must overcome their differences. It's the only way to save the Starship Titanic ("The Ship That Cannot Possibly Go Wrong") from certain destruction and rescue the economy of an entire planet-not to mention to survive the latest threat, an attack by a swarm of hostile shipbuilders. . . .


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.)
VOYA - Rayna Patton
A newly built spaceship, victim of cost cutting and financial chicanery, undergoes Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure during its launching. Shortly afterward, it appears halfway across the universe. The Greatest Genius the Galaxy has Ever Known finds himself in an English jail without a Universal Translator. Three humans and a Blerotin journalist board the spaceship, which is carrying a soon-to-detonate bomb. Emotional and sexual alliances shift. Several villains get their just deserts. A planet of kindly dedicated craftspeople is rescued from financial ruin. A gorgeous airhead takes a degree in Higher Mathematics, and a parrot turns out to be an undercover agent. Put these and a few more plot elements together and you have the outline of this book. As the introduction by Adams explains, this is a novel based on a computer game. It can best be described as Adams Light. All the familiar Douglas Adams elements are here: a plot laced with logical impossibilities; seriocomical footnotes that do and do not explain the clearly impossible; and humanoid aliens. Something, however, is missing. Is it heart? Brain? Or just length? For here, disguised by big print, generous line spacing, and margins, is a rather short novel. Novels spun off from movies (and, it now appears, computer games) are usually this way. Still, you will want to buy it for your Adams fans, who are sure to enjoy it. Readers will almost certainly be led to the Web site (address given), and probably to the CD-ROM game as well. VOYA Codes: 3Q 4P S (Readable without serious defects, Broad general YA appeal, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Library Journal
Conceived by Adams, author of the cult classic Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and executed by Sheckley (The Draconian New York, Forge, 1996), this story concerns the most technologically advanced starship ever designed and the very human tensions that arise among the Architect, the Manager, and the Accountant when the ship is finished.
School Library Journal
YAJones, of Monty Python fame, has successfully translated Adams's vision into a manic interstellar romp that is a welcome companion to the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" series. Starship was launched into the public's consciousness as a brief sentence in Life, the Universe and Everything (Pocket, 1990) and, after experiencing Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure, has resurfaced as a well-received CD-ROM game and as this amusing novel. With not much more plot than a Seinfeld episode, Starship follows the efforts of a cast of daft characters who must earn a free upgrade on the most extravagant and technologically advanced ship ever created. Their mission is to bring the ship's lobotomized computer brain back online while distracting a single-minded bomb and battling an army of hostile shipbuilders who do more good than harm. Absurdities pile on oddities, leaving oxygen-starved readers gasping between giggles. This collaborative effort between Jones and Adams sparkles with the inane humor and fondness for the ridiculous that has earned them a cult following. It will be popular with their many fans and the release of the CD-ROM in April will create new converts among the few who have thus far missed the boat.Robin Deffendall, Prince William Public Library System, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Adams (the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, etc.) contributed the idea, such as it is, while Monty Python's Jones wrote the book. Planet Blerontin's greatest architect, Leovinus, has designed and built Starship Titanic, the biggest, most sumptuous, most advanced spaceship ever. On the eve of the ship's launch, he finds that, what with huge cost overruns, the ship isn't even half complete and its robot brain, Titania, has been unplugged; worse, the manager, Brobostigon, and the accountant, Scraliontis, are plotting to scuttle the ship and collect the insurance money. Off thunders the ship with only Leovinus and The Journalist aboard; it undergoes Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure and ends up on Earth, where it acquires three passengers—Lucy, Nettie, and Dan, who must contend with supercilious robots, lascivious aliens, talking bombs, mad parrots, and a Captain's Bridge that consists entirely of video-game consoles.

Both Jones and Adams possess impressive comic credentials, so there are some amusing moments—but otherwise it's pretty thin and familiar fare.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307415073
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/18/2007
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
345,217
File size:
554 KB

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Read an Excerpt

None of them could have told you how long the attack went on for, but it seemed like several lifetimes to the three figures huddled on the Captain's Bridge. The noise, the vibration, the crashing and bucking of the giant Starship went on and on. . . .

When it was all over, they waited and then stood up, trembling and shaking. The first wave was returning to the main fleet; meanwhile, a second wave was peeling off.

"Here they come again!" yelled Dan, and he and Lucy ducked down once more beneath the console. But The Journalist remained standing, with a curious expression on his face.

Lucy and Dan braced themselves for the gunfire . . . but it didn't come. Instead there was an odd "rather unmartial" banging on the hull of the ship.

"Yassaccans!" muttered The Journalist. Both Lucy and Dan assumed this was another alien expletive and remained under cover, but then The Journalist nudged Dan and said: "Look!"

Dan cautiously put his head above the console and peered out of the window: the second wave of spaceships had pulled up all around the Starship, and an army of short and stocky spacesuited figures were swarming over the hull, hammering and welding as they went.

"What the blazes?" asked Dan.

"They're repairing the damage," explained The Journalist. "Yassaccans are like that! They hate injuring hardware!"

Meanwhile the voice boomed out over the loudspeakers again: "We shall recommence our attack as soon as the first damage has been repaired! If you do not surrender, we shall board and dispose of everyone we find!"

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Terry Jones is one of the original creators of Monty Python's Flying Circus. He is also a film and television director, a scriptwriter, a medieval scholar, and author of various children's books, including the award-winning The Saga of Erik the Viking and (with Michael Palin) Dr. Fegg's Encyclopedia of All World Knowledge. He lives in London.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Douglas Adams's Starship Titanic 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Terry Jones....I think no one but hime could have possibly mastered (or atleast came close to) the Adamsesque form of writing....A wonderful book for not being written by adams himself
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book! Written by a Monty Python with Douglas Adams providing the idea is a recipe for greatness! It's funny, wierd, wacky and silly, all at once.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a great book for people who like action stories, but still like to laugh. It is about the greatest luxury cruise starship in the known galaxy, or so it was rumored. It was designed to be built by the Yassacans, a humble race of highly acclaimed craftsman, but materials were too costly, and the planet Yassaca went bankrupt trying to complete it. So, the construction was moved to Bleratonia, where corners were cut. Scralontis, Leovinius's accountant, cut down on expenses by leaving things out and buying cheaper materials. Upon the launch, the ship undergoes SMEF and dissappears. Or so everybody thinks. the Starship Titanic ends up crash-landing on Earth, right in the middle of Dan and Lucys rectory. There, Dan, lucy, and Nettie board. It turns out that the whole ship is nothing but a giant spaceship shell. Also, the ship has a bomb planted on it. The only way to shut the bomb is to get Titania, the ships centeral intellegence core running again,and Titania is missing a brain piece. If they can't defuse the bomb, not only will they be taken to their fiery death, but Yassaca will not be able to collect money for the starship....
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Starship Titanic was a comical story by Terry Jones following the tradition of Douglas Adam¿s Hitchhiker¿s Guide books. It is a mock science fiction novel that takes every little aspect a real science fiction and tears it to shreds with odd plot twists and nonsense explanations of technical ideas. Robots have insecure personalities and can never seem to make sense, and the off-world aliens are so strange that one can¿t stop laughing. The story starts on a distant planet where the so called 'Galaxy¿s Greatest Genius' Levonius has just designed the biggest, most expensive, most fantastic starship ever built; the Titanic. Levonius had supervised the entire project from his home using advanced virtual-reality. On the night before the big launch Levonius decided to finally visit the ship without his virtual reality goggles. The starship looked beautiful on the outside, but he found that the inside wasn¿t even finished yet! Floors had gaping holes in them, heavy machinery was still all over the place, and worst of all, the electronics were in a chaotic conduction. Talking elevators only wanted to go up, dust sweeping robots were spilling dust instead of cleaning it up, and doorbots were trying to usher Levonius into open cement mixers. As it turned out, the builders had shown Levonius a false virtual world and had cut costs on the ship. They were going to scuttle it for the insurance money. Levonius was mad. On the day of the launch, the ship suffers Super Massive Existence Failure. The author¿s description falters here and the reader never really understands what SMEF is. Maybe that is the authors intent. Somehow though, the ship winds up on earth, and the adventure begins. Terry Jones does a very good job in his story telling. The plot he develops is basically just a bunch of out of order mumbo jumbo, but this is on purpose, and the finial effect is hilarious. Jones greatest strength is in his characterization. Not one character is without depth in the book. One even hears the sorrows of a talking bomb that can never seem to keep his countdown straight. (He never wanted to blow up anyway.) Jones shows the differences between the interplanetary cultures well, with each side thinking the others are completely out of their mind. The Starship Titanic was an entertaining work. It provided the reader with even mix of adventure and comedy. While Terry Jones plot lines and characters are a bit out of the ordinary, the reader still closes the book with an immense feeling of satisfaction. I recommend the book to anyone looking for a good laugh.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a kid I always saw my dad reading douglas addams books. We then got a game called starship titanic I loved that game. I was told there was a book that inspired it and I just had to get it. I enjoyed the story and I recommend it.
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I love Douglas Adams. I love Monty Python. This book is absolute trash. I can't put it any more clearly than that. It should simply never have been written.
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