Thursday, April 4, 2013

Review - The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams

Short review: The view from the restaurant is just a gnab gib, so everyone steals a ship and crashes.

At the restaurant
Watch the whole universe end
Humans aren't from Earth

Full review: The second book in the Hitchhiker Trilogy takes place immediately after the first book concludes. The group of characters featured in the first book split up, with Zaphod finding out that he is the heart of a conspiracy to discover the true ruler of the universe (despite being president of the galaxy, it isn't him - specifically because he is president, and anyone who would want to be president shouldn't have any actual power). After some twists and turns Zaphod winds up at the restaurant of the title with the others, and they all steal a ship.

The ship turns out to be unalterably programmed to dive into a star, and everyone (except Marvin, who stays behind to operate the machine) uses a teleportation device to escape. Zaphod and Trillian find the ruler of the universe. Ford and Arthur find themselves on an alien ship that crashes on prehistoric Earth - and discover that the aliens displaced the indigenous life on the planet becoming the actual ancestors of humanity. This, of course, disrupted the Earth's functioning, meaning that the question for which "42" is the answer may never be solved - Arthur discovers this when he tries to unravel what the correct question would be and gets the result "what is six times nine".

Of the five books, this and the first are the best. The humor is funny without being frivolous, the satire is biting without becoming too nasty. As with all of the books, the plot serves as little more than a frame on which to hang jokes, satire, and comments on the absurd nature of the universe, but those elements are brilliantly well-done in this book.

Previous book in the series: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Subsequent book in the series: Life, the Universe, and Everything

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