Monday, January 20, 2020

Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Douglas Adams
Completed 1/19/2020, Reviewed 1/20/2020
4 stars

I think I finally got back into the spirit of the humor with this book.  I enjoyed it much more than Hitchhiker’s, probably because I didn’t remember all the jokes.  It seemed fresh and inventive.  I thought the plot was great, allowing for a little more character development.  My only big complaint was that the one female character, Trillian doesn’t get much to do or say. 

The team decides to go to the restaurant at the end of the universe because they’re so hungry from their previous adventures.  On their way, they are attacked by Vogons looking to kill Arthur and Trillian, the last remaining humans, after they destroyed the earth in the previous book.  They attack the ship, but it has no defenses because all of its resources are going into trying to figure out how to make a cup of tea for Arthur.  When all hope seems lost, the ship transports them to the restaurant.  After eating a meal of an animal that wants to be eaten, they steal a ship that’s autopiloted to crash into a star.  The improbable antics keep adding up until Arthur and Ford find themselves on a planet with nothing but middle-men, no intelligentsia, no workers.

The plot is absurd, a device to take the team from one crazy scene to another.  I was lots of fun.  At the same time, a lot of the scenes were quite poignant.  Adams is definitely poking fun at a lot of things, like the middle-men who are unknowingly exiled from their planet, including telephone sanitizers for example.  They are all oblivious to what’s happened to them.  The joke seems pretty cruel until we find out that their home planet is wiped out by a virus caught from an unsanitized phone. 

Underlying all the absurdity, there is a conspiracy plot that’s a bit more serious.  Zaphod Beeblebrox, the now former president of the Galaxy, doesn’t remember a mission he was party to.  There are powerful people trying to stop him.  It leads the team to the ruler of the universe and to the realization that people who want to be in power shouldn’t be.

The book, like all the books in the series, are not meant to be taken seriously.  It’s basically a collection of crazy skits thrown together to make some sort of linear plot.  It is much like an episode of Monty Python, which had crazy skits that segued into each other.  Some of the skits are more memorable than others, but they are all funny.  I give this book four stars out of five.  This was a welcome relief after the last book I read which was very heavy and dark.

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