Tag Archives: Douglas Adams

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?


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.

Book Review – Life, the Universe and Everything

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyLife, the Universe and Everything is the third novel in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams.  It’s a continuation of the previous book, but it’s also a self-contained story.  I read this in the Trilogy in Four Parts omnibus.

We start off with Arthur Dent alone in his cave trying to consider whether he should go mad or not when Ford Prefect shows up after quite a long time.  We follow this pair for a while until they meet Slartibartfast and they go on an adventure to stop the people of Krikkit from destroying all life.  The story mainly follows this trio, though they do manage to meet up with Zaphod, Trillian, and Marvin eventually.  It’s a short story, but it does have quite a variety. Much of it felt very random with little direction.  But it all had a purpose, and in the end, it all seemed to match up.  Not that the story is over, not by a long shot.  There’s still another part after this.

The characters are the same as before, though with a focus on Arthur and Ford, we get to see their dynamics quite a bit.  The return of Slartibartfast was refreshing, though I didn’t quite feel he seemed like a wise old man.  Zaphod was his usual self, though much less prominent in this part of the series.  Trillian was quite brilliant, I thought.  Always level-headed, except that she was almost seduced by a god.  Marvin had only a couple brief appearances, but his leg was a very important part of the story.  Arthur and Ford carried this whole story, basically, though Trillian was a major contributor at the end.  They continued to be quite amusing.

The story took place in several places, though mostly going from planet to planet in Slartibartfast’s ship, the Bistromath.  They did have stops on Earth, Krikkit, and a couple planets that are quite difficult to pronounce.  Adams has quite the way of describing scenes, focusing on some absurd elements, as well as creating new words that he sometimes doesn’t even define.  But don’t worry, you don’t need to know what they mean.

You know, at first, I wasn’t really sure where this story was going.  It was incredibly random, or so it seemed.  Remarkably, I didn’t feel very enthusiastic about reading it, but as it progressed, I realised that everything was connected.  Some of it was quite brilliant, I thought.  I just kept getting better, and the ridiculous situations made me wonder what was going to happen next.  It was certainly entertaining.

Overall, this was a solid entry in the series, and I recommend it to anyone who has read the first two parts.  It’s a quick read.  I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review – The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyThe Restaurant at the End of the Universe is the second part of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe by Douglas Adams.  This version is from A Trilogy in Four Parts omnibus edition. It continues right where the first part left off, and it appears this is just one long continuous story. It’s a quick read, as it didn’t take me long to finish. As a comedy, it can’t be taken seriously.  It is pretty humourous.

The characters are mostly the same as before.  There are some new and some recurring characters, but the core remains the same.  Zaphod Beeblebrox is as crazy as ever, seeming like the star, rather than the main character Arthur Dent.  Arthur’s character is often serious and humourless, so doesn’t really stand out.  Ford Prefect continues as usual, and I would say he’s my favourite character at this point. He always finds something interesting in every situation.  Marvin the Android is very depressed, and didn’t care if he were destroyed.  He’s there for more comedy, of course.  Trillian actually seems pretty normal.  All around, a good cast with some surprising chemistry.

The story, originally a radio show, continues in this part with the search for someone important (I won’t say who). It leads to many different places, and as the title suggests, they go to the restaurant at the end of the universe, giving this part of the story a good dose of time travel. I found that there were a lot of coincidences, mostly concerning locations.  One of these coincidences involves the end of the story which may surprise some, but I guessed correctly what it was.  Ford is at his best in this segment.  It has me interested in seeing what happens next.  There’s a lot of time travel in part 2, but it’s handled well with a lot of humour.  I wouldn’t worry so much about time paradoxes, though.  You can’t take it seriously at all. I felt the story was stronger in this part.

While it’s funny, I don’t think it’s laugh out loud funny.  I felt like the story was crazier than the first part, but also better.  I really enjoyed it, especially the description of the restaurant.  When I saw the title, I was thinking the end of the universe was a location, which makes no sense.  It is a time, of course.  That makes much more sense.

I think this was a great installment.  I would highly recommend it to any science fiction fans who enjoy a good amount of humour. It is more complex than I expected, but it’s an easy read.  I enjoyed it better than the first part.  I’d have to give it a 4 1/2 stars.  Very enjoyable!

Book Review – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyIt took me a long time to get around to reading this.  It’s so famous, but I didn’t start reading it until recently.  This review is for book 1, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” although I am reading the 4 part Omnibus edition.  I will review each book separately.

This book is an adaptation of a radio show, both written by Douglas Adams.  It starts out on Earth, and as the title suggests, the main characters hitchhike in the galaxy.  The story starts out with Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect, both colourful characters, but when Zaphod Beeblebrox, the robot Marvin, and Trillian join, it gets even more colourful.  This wacky mix of characters cannot be taken seriously at all.  The radio show was a comedy, and so is this book.  I find Ford Prefect is probably my favourite character so far, very much in the style of much of British comedy.

The story itself moves at a fast pace, not giving you much time in one place.  A lot happens in a short time.  Even the chapters are short.  What I find difficult is that while the plot is interesting, I can’t completely get into it like I can with more serious novels.  I love Terry Pratchett’s works, but this book is even more absurd, and even though it is funny, I didn’t find it laugh out loud funny.  I’m not saying it isn’t enjoyable.  I enjoyed reading it, and I am interested in seeing where the story leads to next.

One thing I wish I could find is a pronunciation guide.  Some names and places are difficult to pronounce.  I guess part of the fun is trying to say them out loud.

This is a classic book, and a very short one.  I would recommend it to anyone with a good sense of humour and at least a passing interest in sci-fi.

I give it 4 out of 5.