01/11/2009. Contributed by Gareth D. Jones
pub: Pan Macmillan. 200 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 7.99(UK), $14.99 (CAN), $22.99 (AUS). ISBN: 978-0-330-50859-9.
check out website: www.panmacmillan.com and www.zz9.org
The first time I read 'The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy' books there was a gap of several months between each volume. Every time I started a book I struggled to remember what was going on and how Arthur Dent, still in his dressing gown, had ended up in his current situation. The second time I read the series it was almost one after the other, yet I still had the same problem. Eventually, and certainly by the third reading, I realised it doesn't really matter. Almost everything that happens to the characters is bizarre and inexplicable, yet somehow follows its own quirky internal logic.
It's in 'The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe' that the true scale of Douglas Adams' imagination becomes apparent. Timescales of millions of years are used effectively by such authors as David Brin and Greg Egan, but Douglas Adams takes us through millions of years with a wink and a smile and it all seems perfectly reasonable. One of my favourite sections of the book is when Marvin the Paranoid Android recounts what he's done while waiting for the end of the universe, 'The first ten million years were the worst. The second ten million were even worse. After that it went down hill...' Civilisations rise and fall, millions of years come and go, while Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect swan around the galaxy on one crazy mission after another. Although, quite often they're not on a mission, they're just caught up in circumstances beyond their control.
Like the other volumes in this 30th anniversary edition, the cover has a cheerfully bright cover suggestive of the Hitchhiker's Guide itself: a friendly book that will both educate and entertain. There is also an extra section at the end container copies of letters, reviews and other papers that will be of interest to fans of the series.
I haven't said much about the plot, probably because the plot is secondary to the enjoyment of this book. It's a heady and addictive experience to read through. Gradually, you'll start to notice that parts of the plots tie together across the volumes, though with all of the time-travelling going on it can be difficult to follow. That's not too important though, just enjoy the bubbling prose and the dry wit as Arthur Dent continues his travels.
Gareth D. Jones
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