The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980) – Douglas Adams

Sometimes you need a good laugh, and Douglas Adams never disappoints.

Picking up where the first book finished, Arthur Dent, Ford, Trillian, Zaphod and Marvin are looking for a bite to eat. They are famished after everything they have just gone through, and Arthur still wants a good cup of tea.

But things are never that easy, and things continue on in the riotous way that Adams established with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Their ship, the Heart of Gold’s improbability drive throws them forward in time to the very End of the Universe, and the restaurant, Milliways, that hovers there moving back and forth to allow diners to enjoy the destruction and collapse of the universe at breakfast, lunch or dinner.

There are bigger issues at work though, as the blocked parts of Zaphod’s brain are leading him on a quest to discover the real power behind the universe, while still battling to learn the Ultimate Question, without which, the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything remains meaningless.

There is time travel, remaining dead for a year for tax purposes, a grand exodus of hairdressers and telephone sanitizers, grand theft starship, the universe’s loudest rock band, unwilling robot sacrifices, and discoveries about the destroyed Earth.

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And through it all, I could do nothing but laugh, chuckle and shake my head as Adams sense of humour continues to hit exactly the right note.

I know the first book fairly well, not only because I’ve read it a couple of times, but have seen both adapted versions of it. So that story is fairly fresh. But the further I got into Restaurant, the less I remembered, and consequently, enjoyed all the more.

The wordplay, the imagination, the dialogue, all of it plays so well. I can see the whole thing in my head, and it is incredibly funny, and makes great observations on humanity and life.

We also learn that no matter what happened in the first book and the destruction of the Earth, the pan-dimensional beings who were using it as a living computer to solve the Ultimate Question were going to get the wrong question…

Much like the first book, I don’t think I would have appreciated this one as much when I was younger as I do now. I wouldn’t have gotten all the jokes, most of them are in the delivery, or the way things play out, or just the absurdity of the situation.

It’s not that I wasn’t as clever as a child, I just hadn’t quite developed that love for British humour that I now have, and is essential to enjoying Adams writing.

Fine dining, time travel, and pontificating about forty-two, this one was just a joy to reread and I cannot wait to see what happens in the next book (because at the moment, I sure don’t remember…).

hitch

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