Book Review: Douglas Adams' "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe"

Rating: 4 out of 5

Part two of my review of Douglas Adams' The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide focuses on the second book in the series: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.


When last we left our heroes, they were about to head off to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe to grab a bite to eat. Unfortunately for them, food would have to wait. Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Zaphod Beeblebrox, Tricia McMillan (Trillian), and Marvin (the manically depressed robot) were being attacked by the Vogon fleet who destroyed the Earth minutes before it would have finished calculating the ultimate question to the ultimate answer of life, the universe, and everything. Prior to discovering this fact, Arthur Dent was busy arguing with the Nutri-Matic Drink Synthesizer (a device designed to produce personal drinks that matched the tastes and metabolism of whoever used it). Arthur was trying to get the Nutri-Matic to make him a cup of tea. The components of which, dried leaves boiled in water with a squirt of milk from a cow, utterly confused the Nutri-Matic who had to seek help from the onboard computer of the ship; a process in which shut down all ability to control the ship. Zaphod had to call upon his great-graddad, Zaphod Beeblebrox the Third, from the spirit world to help them out of this jam. The Heart of Gold was able to make an improbability jump at the exact moment the ships defenses would have been breached and the ship destroyed.

At the end of the improbability jump, Zaphod and Marvin found themselves on Ursa Minor Beta, the headquarters of Megadodo Publications, the creators of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Arthur, Ford, and Trillian found themselves still inside the Heart of Gold, but still with no control over the mobility of the ship. While on Ursa Minor Beta, Zaphod told himself (the locked down part of his brain told the active part of his brain) to find Mr. Zarniwoop (an employee of Megadodo Publications). While Zaphod and Marvin were looking for Zarniwoop, a team of Frogstar Fighter robots descended upon Megadodo Publications in search of Zaphod Beeblebrox. Not finding him directly, the Frogstar Fighters took the entire building to Frogstar World B where Zaphod would be subject to the Total Perspective Vortex, which was designed to destroy your soul by showing you your relation to the entire universe. Luckily for Zaphod, the universe he was in was designed specifically for him by Zarniwoop, so he survived the Total Perspective Vortex. After tracking down Zarniwoop in a delayed (900 years delayed) cruise liner, Zaphod learned that the Heart of Gold was in his pocket and that they all must travel to meet the controller of the universe. Zaphod and Zarniwoop returned to the Heart of Gold, upon which time, Zaphod punched out Zarniwoop and along with Arthur, Ford, and Trillian, set off to eat at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe...

What did they find at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe? What happened to Marvin on Frogstar World B? What does Disaster Area consider a "good gig?" Just who is it that controls the universe? And will we ever find out the true question to the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything? Well, you are going to have to read the book yourself to find out.

While good, I did not think The Restaurant at the End of the Universe was as good as the first book, it was definitely entertaining enough to read. The end of this book is the end of the BBC television series, so from here on out, I do not know what to expect from the rest of the Hitchhiker's Series. :-)