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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 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. less
Random House Publishing Group; December 2007 256 pages; ISBN 9780307415073 Download in secure EPUB
Title: Douglas Adams's Starship Titanic
Author: Terry Jones
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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!"