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Book review: <i>The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe</i> by Douglas Adams

Zaphod, Trillian, Ford and Arthur return to participate in some even more unlikely deep-space situations than those that occurred in the first installment of this trilogy in five parts; The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.

The story

Our four heroes find themselves stranded in the Heart of Gold under Vogon attack while the computer whole heartedly throws it’s not inconsiderable resources into an attempt to produce a decent cup of tea for Arthur. During the course of the attack, the four are saved by an unlikely rescuer and sent to dinner at the closest available restaurant—and on the way Zaphod learns a few more things about why he schemed to become president of the galaxy.

After a pleasant dinner at the restaurant at the end of the universe, during which the diners can eat and drink while watching the world end, Zaphod, Arthur, Trillian and Ford set off in a stolen spacecraft predestined for disaster and the four of them separate by way of a non-coordinated teleport.

Zaphod and Trillian discover the final piece of Zaphod’s puzzle - and go looking for the man who rules the universe. Meanwhile, Arthur and Ford find themselves bound up in a bizarre conspiracy, on a ship destined to crash on a planet that looks very, very familiar...

The style

Once again, The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe is pure . It’s funny, even on the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth reads (so it’s fairly safe to say that the thirteenth will be funny as well, etcetera). Its plot is complex enough to leave you with that feeling that Douglas Adams is a very clever man, but simple enough that you don’t feel like an idiot when reading it. The whole thing ties together nicely as a complete story in its own right, but also just as nicely with The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy before it and Life, The Universe, And Everything after it. And as in the previous book, the maths, space, and sci-fi are convincing and completely outlandish at the same time.

The main character development focus in The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe is, I think, Zaphod; as some of his family members and motivations become clearer. Marvin the Paranoid Android is also developed further, but let’s face it, Marvin is a bottomless pit of comedic material just waiting to be delved into. And, while I recall in the past feeling as though this book was the weak one in the chain, upon my re-reading I have to confess I enjoyed it just as much as the first one. I particularly enjoyed the man who rules the universe, and the twist that is revealed about the largest supercomputer ever constructed.

Who is this book for?

Anyone with a decent sense of humour, particularly for people who think they will never like science fiction. If you don’t get that dry British wit though, this book may not be for you. That is the only critique of it I have ever seen. Furthermore, while the books in the trilogy can be read separately, I recommend reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy first.

If you like this book, you would also like...

There are four others in the trilogy. Adams has also written a particularly funny couple of books about a holistic detective named Dirk Gently, which are well worth a read. Also, if you like the sci-fi humour genre, get a hold of Grant and Naylor’s Red Dwarf Omnibus, which while it isn’t as clever as the hitchhikers books it is still pretty damn funny.

In short

Title: The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe
Author: Douglas Adams
Publisher: Del Rey
ISBN: 0345391810
Year published: 1995
Pages: 256
Genre(s): Humour, Sci-fi
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