Reread Project: Life, The Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams

Life, The Universe and EverythingLife, The Universe and Everything

by Douglas Adams
Series: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy, #3

Paperback, 232 pg.
Del Rey, 2005

Read: April 18, 2016

“One of the interesting things about space,” Arthur heard Slartibartfast saying . . . “is how dull it is?”

“Dull?” . . .

“Yes,” said Slartibartfast, “staggeringly dull. Bewilderingly so. You see, there’s so much of it and so little in it.”

Between General Busy-ness and having a hard time locating a reading copy of this book (I have one leather-bound edition of the “trilogy” pre-Mostly Harmless that I’m trying not to further abuse and a 1st edition that I really don’t want to abuse at all), I didn’t get to reading this one on schedule. I was briefly tempted to write this up from memory — and I think I’d have hit 80% of the same things, but that seemed dis-honest, somehow.

Also, I really wanted to read the Belgiuming thing (if you’ll pardon the expression)

Thankfully, the Nampa Library came through. So, yeah, a little late and without further ado…

Sigh. This one just doesn’t work as well as its predecessors, does it? You can sense how hard Adams is trying to recapture the sensibility of the previous two novels — but it just comes across like someone trying (or locked in a hotel room by his editor until he’s done, which I believe is what happened here). For example, look at the concept of Bistromathic Drive, if that’s not a desperate attempt to remake the Infinite Improbability Drive, I’m a frood who doesn’t know where his towel is. And then the whole Krikkit saga? Don’t get me started with that.

Which is not to say that this doesn’t have some good moments — most of Ford’s dialogue is great. The whole thing with Agrajag is both a great call-back and a fun diversion. The best part of the book (both in concept and execution) has to be:

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has this to say on the subject of flying.

There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying.

The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

It goes on for quite a while after this — and I love every bit of it.

I had forgotten Marvin’s arc in this — I enjoyed that more than the rest (even if it wasn’t as good as his arc in Restaurant). It’s the best use of Trillian in the series, bar none. So, it wasn’t a total wash. Still, it felt forced, his heart didn’t seem to be in it. Which made us even, I guess, my heart sure wasn’t. Still, Adams on an off-day is better than most things.


3 Stars