Life, the Universe, and Everything Life, the Universe, and Everything by Douglas Adams
Publisher: Del Ray
Year: 1995
Pages: 240

It may behoove you to first read my review of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

Though not originally intended to be a Hitchhiker’s book, Life, the Universe, and Everything ended up being reworked from a rejected Dr. Who script into this. It continues the series’ tradition of devolving from a semi-coherent satire into a collection of random-is-funny vignettes loosely tied together with characters.

There are some very serious Hitchhiker fans who believe that this is the last book in the series worth reading—that the remaining two were tacked on, redundant, derivative, and not worth the time. We shall deal with those accusations in later reviews. Life, the Universe, and Everything betrays its roots as a non-Hitchhiker piece by having some semblance of a plot. The important story arch is that of Krikkit, a extremely xenophobic planet on the far edge of the galaxy that was sealed off, billions of years ago, after their attempt to destroy the rest of the universe. Now, a band of murderous, cricket-bat-wielding robots are piecing together the key that will unlock their bloodthirsty masters. It is into these machinations that the hapless Arthur Dent, the pragmatic Ford Prefect, and the gibbering Slartibartifast (he of the fjords) are thrust. Along the way, they meet up again with Zaphod Beeblebrox and Trillian.

The vagaries of the plot are what you might expect from the series. I remain somewhat galled by Adams resistance to any sort of characterization whatsoever beyond the basic comedic archetypes. Dent’s awkward relationship with Trillian, for instance, flummoxes readers whose instinct is to read it romantically. In fact, despite overtures to that effect, nothing ever happens between them. Trillian makes a comment near the end of this novel that could almost certainly be taken as a confession of such feelings, but the moment is quickly forgotten.

This, I think, is my main grievance with the series (not just this book in particular). Adams has actually made interesting characters with whom readers want to relate and be interested in, but they are steadfastly two-dimensional and satirical. They’re simple constructs who act as straight men to the comedy act of the universe. By the time one reads Life, the Universe, and Everything, the Law of Diminishing Returns has kicked in and one feels less satisfied than ever.

§1939 · December 6, 2007 · Tags: , , , , , ·

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