Book Review – So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxySo Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

Author: Douglas Adams

Series: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #4

Genre: Science Fiction, Humour

Published 1984

Review Copy: Paperback omnibus bought new

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Goodreads Description:

Back on Earth with nothing more to show for his long, strange trip through time and space than a ratty towel and a plastic shopping bag, Arthur Dent is ready to believe that the past eight years were all just a figment of his stressed-out imagination. But a gift-wrapped fishbowl with a cryptic inscription, the mysterious disappearance of Earth’s dolphins, and the discovery of his battered copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy all conspire to give Arthur the sneaking suspicion that something otherworldly is indeed going on. . . .
God only knows what it all means. And fortunately, He left behind a Final Message of explanation. But since it’s light-years away from Earth, on a star surrounded by souvenir booths, finding out what it is will mean hitching a ride to the far reaches of space aboard a UFO with a giant robot. But what else is new?

Review

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish is the fourth book in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams.  Although it is the last book in the omnibus I read, it is not the final book in the series.  This part takes a different path than the others and remains mostly in just one place, Earth.  But wasn’t Earth destroyed?

I was initially surprised by this book.  I wasn’t expecting them to be back on Earth.  There’s a very heavy focus on Arthur Dent’s life with the occasional Ford Prefect appearance, more often toward the end.  But we’re introduced to a new character, Fenny (or Fenchurch) who becomes an interest for Arthur.  You see, she may be somewhat like a female Arthur, in my opinion.  She’s very quirky, but a very interesting character.  We get to see Arthur in a very different light here, as he knows so much more than everyone else about what’s happened, and he’s able to work on solving a problem.  He’s actually quite resourceful.  Ford is out in space still, but he seems to be as eccentric as ever.  For a while, I thought he was going crazy.  He was acting so bizarrely.  Trillian and Beeblebrox don’t appear, though they are mentioned.  Marvin makes a small appearance.  I was a bit disappointed by the lack of Trillian and Beeblebrox.

The story is so different than the previous three parts, as they remain on Earth for most of the story.  It’s a much more coherent story than before, but remained funny.  While the story wasn’t all over the place, Arthur’s actions still resulted in unpredictable consequences, and Ford’s disturbing behaviour was plain weird.  And the dolphins.  What’s going on with the dolphins?  There were a few things that were left unexplained at the end, so I expect them to be explained in the final part.

Earth itself is the same, yet different than what Arthur left.  The people are the same, although Fenchurch is obviously different.  Arthur has knowledge that it was destroyed, and even has evidence of his trip through time and space.  It happened, but the time elapsed in his life and on Earth are different.  Mysteries abound, and I’d like to find out what’s going on.

Overall, I’d give this a solid 4 out of 5 stars.  It’s not as wacky as before, but it’s still very fun.  Highly recommended to anyone who enjoyed the previous parts.  This series should be read in order to be able to understand what’s going on.

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