Completed 1/27/2020, Reviewed 2/2/2020
This third installment of the Hitchhiker’s series wasn’t as gripping and hilarious as the last. It really feels like Adams is losing steam here. It seems like there are fewer jokes and puns in this one. The situations, while absurd, made me smile, but not really laugh. I remember feeling this way when I first read it. I think one of the problems is that some of the jokes might be more conducive to being visual. Like the time-traveling couch appearing at a cricket match and the theory of flying. I also think I probably missed a lot of the jokes because I only know the bare bones of cricket, and the main plot hinges on knowledge of the game.
The book picks up on Earth two million years ago where Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect are stranded. Ford has wandered off leaving Arthur alone for several years. One day Ford comes back and they also happen to find a time-traveling couch. The couch brings them back to Earth at a cricket match two days before it’s destroyed, and right before a spaceship attacks the field. They’re picked up by another spaceship helmed by Slartibartfast, a character who made a brief appearance in the first book. Together, the three of them go on a quest to save the universe from the inhabitants of a planet seeking to destroy it. They’re rejoined by Trillian and Zaphod Beeblebrox as well.
There was more plot to this book and less asides. I think that was the downfall of the book. The first two books are pretty much absurd scene after absurd scene loosely connected by a plot. This one seemed more to be a strong plot which happens to have a few asides. Most notably, the party that never ends. That’s where we meet up with Trillian again.
Trillian has a little bigger role in this book. She acts as an empathetic listener to the aliens who want to destroy the universe, giving them a chance to talk out their feelings and help some of them get over wanting to destroy the universe. Marvin, the depressed robot also makes an appearance and has a particularly influential presence with these same aliens. That part was genuinely funny to me.
The science of flying made more sense to me this time and was more comical than the first time I read the book. The science is that you fall, but are distracted at the last second and miss hitting the ground. It’s something Ford Prefect struggles with, but happens to Arthur, well, accidentally.
Overall, I give this book three stars out of five. It just didn’t grip me as strongly as Restaurant did.