I did it everyone. I read a series from start to finish, back to back. Now I can do anything! I can learn French, stick to a gym routine, improve myself in so may different ways- all because of 5 books in 4 weeks.
Cosy up with a cup of tea and read this rather long plot summary and review.
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
- Number of pages: 178
- Genre: Sci-fi, Adventure
- Time to read: 3 days
The Restaurant at the end of the Universe
- Number of pages: 200
- Time to read: 3 days
Life, the Universe and Everything
- Number of pages: 199
- Time to read: 5 days
So long, and thanks for all the fish
- Number of pages: 167
- Time to read: 3 days
- Number of pages: 230
- Time to read: 3 days
The first book in the trilogy, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (THGTTG), you are introduced to Arthur Dent, a grumpy particular human and his best friend Ford Prefect, who appears to be human but is in fact Betelgeusian. It starts with Ford ‘saving’ Arthur from Earth just seconds before it is destroyed by Vogons to make way for a super space highway. Once in space you meet Zaphod Beeblebrox, President of the Galaxy, Trillion, a female human and Marvin, a depressed robot all on board the Heart of Gold. Arthur, Ford, Zaphod and Trillion then go on a journey to Margrathea, a planet that makes and sells other planets. When on Margrathea Arthur meets Slartibartfast, who shows him a film about the story of the ultimate question. The answer is 42. Arthur also learns that the Earth was created by Mice and when reunited with the rest of the crew he is confronted by Mice who want to take his brain to understand the answer to the ultimate question. Zaphod saves Arthur from the mice and the first installment ends with them trying to find somewhere to eat.
The Restaurant at the end of the Universe (TRATEOTU) starts with the crew being attacked by a Vogon ship and in the process of trying to save themselves Zaphod and Marvin end up separated from the rest of the group. The next few chapters solely follow Zaphod and Marvin as they navigate their way through the head offices of THGTTG and its move to Frogstar World B. Once Zaphod is reunited with Arthur, Ford and Trillion they finally make it to the restaurant at the end of the universe for some dinner and when leaving steal the spaceship of a famous rock-star. When travelling they discover it is a stunt ship heading towards the sun and try to escape through a teleportation device; Ford and Arthur end up on the spacecraft Golgrafinchin which crash lands on to a prehistoric earth. Zaphod and Trillion are returned to the Heart of Gold.
Life, the Universe and Everything (LTUAE) starts a few years later; Arthur and Ford are on prehistoric earth. Ford has discovered a way to get back to the present day due to a space-time eddy and they end up in present day England (1980’s) where they re meet Slartibartfast and get caught up in the Krikkit wars.They are reunited with Trillion at a party who has left Zaphod earlier in the book, however just before meeting Trillion at the party Arthur is confronted by Agrajag, a being Arthur has killed multiple times in different forms. Agrajag tells Arthur that he will die somewhere called Stavromula Beta. Arthur, Ford, Trillion and Slartibartfast travel to the plant of Krikkit and Zaphod reappears after having been held captive by Krikkit robots. Trillion realises that the instigator of the Krikkit wars was a super computer named Hactar and manages to talk him out of destroying the universe and freeing the people of Krikkit. LTUAE ends with Ford, Trillion and Zaphod dropping Arthur off on a peaceful planet where he learns to fly.
So Long and Thanks for all the Fish (SLATFATF) starts with Arthur Dent unknowingly returning to Earth. He hitches a ride with someone and instantly falls in love with Fenchurch, a lady in the back of the car. Arthur adjusts to life on earth but is constantly searching for Fenchurch, luckily one day he meets her and they start a relationship after discovering they both can fly. Fenchurch and Arthur go to LA to speak to a man who believes he has a connection to the ‘end’ of the world, and when meeting him discover that he also has a fish bowl that Arthur and Fenchurch were sent. The fishbowl is from the dolphins and has inscribed ‘So long and thanks for all the Fish‘. Whilst all this has been happening on Earth, Ford has been frantically trying to get to Earth after realizing it wasn’t destroyed by the Vogon ship. Ford and Arthur reunite and along with Fenchurch go back in to space to discover what the final message from God was.
Mostly Harmless is the final installment of the series. Arthur is travelling around space solo after Fenchurch disappears in a freak accident, Ford is battling with the new owners of THGTTG and Trillion has two plot line; one as Trillion in space and one as Tricia McMillan back on earth. Arthus settles down on Lamuella, where he works as a sandwich maker and when Trillian visits him he learns he has a daughter with Trillion named Random. Random is frustrated with Arthur and life on Lamuella; when Ford’s package to Arthur arrives, she takes it and discovers the Guide. The Guide helps her to escape the planet on Ford’s ship after Ford arrives on the planet looking for Arthur. Ford and Arthur manage to find a way to leave Lamuella and head for Earth, where they suspect Random is also heading to find Trillian. As Random leaves the ship she sees Tricia, believing Tricia to be her mother. Arthur, Ford, and Trillian arrive and help Tricia to calm Random. They remove her from the chaos surrounding the spacecraft and take her to a bar. Trillian tries to warn the group that the Grebulons, having become bored of their mission, are about to destroy the Earth. Random disrupts the discussion by producing a laser gun she took from her ship. She fires the weapon hitting another reincarnation of Agrajag. He also discovers that the bar is named “Stavro Mueller – Beta”. Arthur, despite the panic beginning around him, experiences a “tremendous feeling of peace”. Earth is destroyed.
Phew! That was quite a big plot summary, sorry for that. Now on to the bit that matters.
On researching Douglas Adams a little more after reading THGTTG there were a few things that I found quite interesting. Firstly Adams was a massive atheist and this comes through in to his writing as not only does he dismiss the notion of their being one God, he also mocks religion with the Planets that do have a God of sorts being more ‘prehistoric’ and backwards than those that don’t.
Douglas Adams was also a environmental activist being heavily involved in raising awareness of Global Warming and although I can’t find any source that confirms that he was either vegetarian or vegan I do have a sneaky suspicion that he disliked the meat industry. An example of this that stuck with me the most is during TRATEOTU when Ford, Arthur, Trillion and Zaphod are in the Miliways about to order their meal. The waiter asks if they would like to meet the meat and a cow like creature comes out to greet them. The cow like creature comes to their table and offers up different cuts for it’s body for them to eat; the reason behind this is that all the animals that were being killed to be eaten were getting depressed so the Galaxy engineered an animal that was happy to be killed for meat. Adams shows his disdain of this notion through Arthur who decides in that moment to turn vegetarian and only eats soup.
One other thing that I learnt from my research was that Douglas Adams was a massive fan of Doctor Who, and even wrote LTUAE as a Doctor Who script before adapting it in to the a book for the Hitchhiker series. I’m not a massive fan of Doctor Who but from what I know of this I can see the inspirations from Doctor Who in THGTTG and vice versa.
Despite not being a fan of science-fiction as a whole I was surprised at how much I did enjoy this series. Out of all the five books The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, So Long and Thanks for all the Fish and Mostly Harmless were the most enjoyable reads. The other two books; Life, the Universe and Everything and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe I just couldn’t quite get my head around. I think this is because out of the series these two were the most prominent in sci-fi themes and words than the rest. LTUAE followed the Krikkit wars which centered around time travel and many different planets which weren’t the easiest of words to get my head around. TRATEOTU mainly followed Zaphod who wasn’t my favourite character and the story ended with out many of the main questions being answered, this not only bugged me but then going in to LTUAE really tested my commitment to finishing the series!
The main character throughout the series is Arthur, however for most of the series, is he not my favourite character. His uptight, moaning and groaning attitude just annoyed me more than anything, whereas Ford Prefect was definitely my favourite character. Ford was full of adventure, a little care free and in a strange way a very good friend to Arthur.
One thing I did notice was that up until Mostly Harmless the female characters in the books were very underwritten. Trillion would only say a couple of words here or there, and despite the appearance of Fenchurch in SLATFATF the female characters weren’t depicted very well. Trillion was almost entirely silent up to the last chapter in LTUAE and Fenchurch was portrayed as being mad and to be frank quite weak. In the final book, which was published in 1992 and in 1991 Adam’s had a daughter, both Trillion, Tricia and Random are the main focus of the novel and drive most of the plot twists that happen. All three ladies are also strong willed and decisive; clearly having a daughter changed the way Adams perceived and wrote female characters.
Douglas Adams also would introduce a lot of minor characters in to the different stories for essentially split seconds so you don’t end up knowing what happens to them, however he also does this with some of the main characters. Zaphod for example basically disappears in the Mostly Harmless and LTUAE; all you really hear of him is that he is still with Trillion. I found this very odd considering in TRATEOTU he is the main plot driver and a lot of questions are left unanswered at the end of that novel, like does he figure out who is running the universe?
Unanswered questions is a common occurrence in this series, or I’m too dumb to pick up on the answers. Not only are you left wondering what happened to Zaphod but also Marvin the depressed Robot. There isn’t ever a real explanation as to who is in charge of the entire Galaxy or why Earth wasn’t actually destroyed in the first instance by the Vogon ship. Give me answers!
My favourite book was Mostly Harmless. It was a fantastic book to finish the series on as it was witty, fast paced and held my attention a lot more than the others. The main reason I really enjoyed this book however was finally getting to see the Galaxy and everything in it through a woman’s perspective. There is only so much grumpy Arthur, cocky Zaphod and silly Ford that a girl can take until she just wants to read the thoughts and adventures of Trillion, Tricia and Random. Although you don’t get to see much of Trillion’s thoughts, you do get to follow Tricia and Random a lot and both ladies are written as being strong willed and independent, a refreshing difference from the almost silent Trillion and Fenchurch.
If you are a sci-fi fan and the dedication to read five books I definitely think embracing the world set up up Douglas Adams is worth this. Arthur may grind on your gears a bit and some of the made up words may be hard to pronounce but overall the Hitchhiker series is entertaining and fun to read.
3.5 out of 5 depressed robots.