Author Webpage: Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Series: Book 2 of 5 | Interested in Book 1? The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (Reviewed April 5, 2020)
Hints of: Good Omens, Chilling Effect, Doctor Who, Anything by Neil Gaiman
Warnings: This is Book 2 of 5. You've read Book 1. Prouda You. This 2nd book - like Book 1 - was about 150 pages. It's VERY space-odysessy, defies laws of physics and at times makes no literal sense. If you need logical answers, you ain't gettin' em from this book.
Triggers: Tea, Big A*# Birds, Being a Family Failure, Joggers, Telephone Booths
Facing annihilation at the hands of the warlike Vogons? Time for a cup of tea! Join the cosmically displaced Arthur Dent and his uncommon comrades in arms in their desperate search for a place to eat, as they hurtle across space powered by pure improbability.
Among Arthur’s motley shipmates are Ford Prefect, a longtime friend and expert contributor to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; Zaphod Beeblebrox, the three-armed, two-headed ex-president of the galaxy; Tricia McMillan, a fellow Earth refugee who’s gone native (her name is Trillian now); and Marvin, the moody android. Their destination? The ultimate hot spot for an evening of apocalyptic entertainment and fine dining, where the food speaks for itself (literally).
There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
There is another which states that this has already happened.
*Spoilers Moving Forward* (It's a Sequel...)
Pre - Review:
I was planning on doing a "look back" The beauty of this book being based on radio show, it does a "review" of Book 1. I read a few books in between, so it was very helpful. Here's a quick synopsis of what it says:
"A race of hyperintelligent pan-dimensional beings once built themselves a gigantic supercomputer called Deep Thought to calculate once and for all the Question to the Ultimate Answer of Life, the Universe of Everything.
For seven and a half million years, Deep Thought computed and calculated, and in the end announced that the answer was in fact Forty-two - and so another, even bigger, computer had to be built to find out what the actual question was.
And this computer, which was called the Earth, was so large that it was frequently mistaken for a planet - especially by the strange apelike beings who roamed its surface, totally unaware that they were simply part of a gigantic computer program.
Sadly, however, just before the critical moment of read-out, the Earth was unexpectedly demolished by the Vogons to make way for a new hyperspace bypass.
Or so it would seem. Two of these strange apelike creatures survived. They are all that remains of the greatest experiment ever conducted - to find the Ultimate Question and the Ultimate Answer of Life, the Universe and Everything."
So this sequel primarily revolves around Zaphod Beeblebrox, the ex-President of the Galaxy since he stole the Heart of Gold (ship) for funsies. Or was it for funsies? Remember that? EH? So this review will primarily revolve around his story. It's kind of long, but honestly, deal with it.
So the book starts where it left off - Zaphod, Arthur Dent & Tricia McMillan (apelike creatures from Earth), Ford Prefect (Hitchhiker) and of course Marvin (depressing robot) - are hungry & trying to get to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
*QUE WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE LIGHTS & DUN DUN DUNNNNN MUSIC* Pans on Vogons once again trying to ruin our favorite ship full of misfits lives. The Vogons are firing on the Heart of Gold who is incapacitated. Why? My absolute favorite Arthur confused the HELL out of the Nutri-Matic when he asked for a simple cup of tea.
Of course, the way the Nutri-Matic explains it, I kind of get it? You want the taste of dried leaves boiled in water? With milk. Squirted out of a cow.
So moral there? We learned in Book 1 to always bring a towel so that people take you seriously. I'd like to say the useless yet meaningful moral here is always bring a tea bag. Otherwise you may find yourself shutting down a vast array of computer systems, and single-handedly bring about the demise of you & a posse of misfits.
So back to Zaphod, again the whole book basically revolves around him. But during this selfish time, we're introduced to a number of concepts, people & places I thought were rather interesting.
We meet Zaphod's Great-granddad - Beeblebrox the Fourth. Apparently the Zaphod we know is the First. Accident with a contraceptive & a time machine. What is important refers back to my "Serious Plotline" section in my first review. Zaphod has had something blocked in his memory - something dangerous - something others want.
"Zaphod, you knew when you were President of the Galaxy, as did Yooden Vranx before you, that the President is nothing. A cipher. Somewhere in the shadows behind is another man, being, something, with ultimate power. That man, or being, or something, you must find - the man who controls this Galaxy, and - we suspect - others. Possibly the entire Universe."
Whoa. Alright. Fresh out the gates in Chapter 4 we get the explanation for Zaphod's brain lapse. Zaphod Beeblebrox the Fourth admits the Universe isn't in good hands. The Heart of Gold's Improbability Drive will find this man. That is the purpose of Zaphod's expedition and now run from the coppers.
And that's that with the Fam. BAM! The Fourth sends the Heart of Gold into the unknown.
Zaphod and Marvin end up on Ursa Minor Beta. Home of....
THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY HEADQUARTERS
At this point, I was getting serious "Facebook" or "Google" campus vibes. Super expensive coffee shops, lots of laxy "hyper intelligent better than thou" individuals and no one really knew what was going on. What's the purpose of this storyline? Zaphod believes the man behind the power is the CEO of The Hitchhiker's Guide - Zarniwoop. *BUZZER SOUND EAHHH WRONG*
But we are introduced to Roosta - for some reason I imagine him as a Frog. Probably because he's trying to help Zaphod escape from Frogstar, an evil race of evil people from an evil planet that catch up to Zaphod because he stole the Heart of Gold. The major point is that Roosta explains he, Zarniwoop, Yooden Vranx & Zaphod the Fourth all planned this expedition to meet the ultimate power man. So remain calm, and go out the window - not the door.
Wait, what? Oh yea. This evil cop race carried the HQ of Hitchhiker's to Frogstar World B to annihilate Zaphod. It's desolate, lonely & filled with creepy A*$ birds. Zaphod manages to survive the Total Perspective Vortex which apparently kills everyone who comes in contact with it, but for Zaphod it just reveals the entire Universe to him and he walks out. Talk about your ego booster...
Zaphod takes a stroll on the desolate planet to this building filled with cruisers on Planet B. INCLUDING a "Cruise Line" that contains - you guessed it - Zarniwoop. It's 900 year delay has kept everyone is kept in a frozen state and feed tea & biscuits while their hair and nails grow to a disgusting length. Unfortunate for those passengers, but it kept the coordinates of the ultimate power man at bay in Zarniwoop's head.
Oh yea, this is all in artificial Universe and it was designed for Zaphod to bring the ultimate power man to because the Heart of Gold can do that apparently. Zarniwoop and Zaphod had arranged all this. And then Zaphod hid memories. Keep up.
Okay.. wait wait wait wait wait. WHEN DOES THE RESTAURANT COME INTO PLAY?!
Right now actually. Zarniwoop reveals the ship in Zaphod's jacket, Zaphod wishes himself to the nearest restaurant, and BAM! 5 Million years in the future - in the exact same spot - they're at Milliway's. The Restaurant at the End of the Galaxy. Because it was the closest. Physically.
Interestingly, Milliway's doesn't have an major role in the plot. But it's a cool as HELL idea. So we'll do a brief little focus on it. While it was the closest physically, now the gang is at the end of the galaxy where everything is apparently exploding & dying & people watch this over dinner. You put a penny down for your reservation in your own time, jump to the future, BAM! You have a LOT of money saved for your dining reservation.
Like I said, cool as HELL. The host gives me major James Cordon, Jimmy Fallon vibes. He briefly mentions his gig at "Big Bang Burgers" which is a restaurant at the START of the galaxy. PUNNY!! Both of these places are in time bubbles and projected forwards & backwards at precise moments in history.
PAUSE. Anyone getting Doctor Who, Ninth Doctor, Season 1 Episode 3 vibes? Just me?
So the gang has a nice meal, decides to bounce, back to Zaphod's story. They steal a famous rockstar's ship, which almost gets obliterated, but Zaphod and Trillian end up back on the Heart of Gold which honestly at this point feels like an intergalactic Gandalf the Grey/White - always turning up, saving the main characters, getting a TITCH predictable. But you know, Improbability Field I suppose.
* MAJOR SPOILERS *
Zarniwoop - CEO of Hitchhikers - is also there, having programmed coordinates to retrieve the ultimate power man. So alright. Final chapters of the book. We're going to meet the man behind the Galaxy. THE UNIVERSE. This whole plan that's been developing for TWO BOOKS. SIX RADIO BROADCASTS.
We get to a small obscure world somewhere in the middle of nowhere, protected by a vast field of Unpropbability (I suspect to counter the Improbability Field) that only six men in the Galaxy have a key to. We'll call them the henchmen.
Ya'll. The guy is a moron. We never get the man's name. But he HAD to have gotten a degree in Psychology or Philosophy or something I hate because here are how his conversations go:
Zaphod: "You do rule the Universe, do you?"
The Man: "How can I tell?"
Zaphod: "How long have you been doing this?"
The Man: "Ah. This is a question about the past, is it?"
I think I am full body Trillian in this situation, because she bounced shortly after arriving at the shack on this small obscure world in the middle of nowhere. Zaphod leaves shortly after. Zarniwoop - who helped plan this WHOLE THING - gets so frustrated he storms out. Locks himself out. Finds out Trillian & Zaphod peaced out & left him. And, The Man won't let him back in. The chapter ends with us not knowing if Zarniwoop is just abandoned, starving, no idea.
But it does confirm at the end that this man is indeed the Ruler of the Universe - dozing lightly in his chair. Hearing various noises outside, but not knowing if they're real or not. He then talked to his table for a week to see how it would react.
I'm just kidding. Sort of. I mean technically Zaphod's storyline for this book is over. Remember how in my review Arthur and Ford just kind of stop being mentioned? After Milliway's?
Arthur & Ford's Side Story:
Is this pertinent to Zaphod's storyline on why his brain is hiding information, and this secret group of powerful men that help Zaphod find the Ruler of the Universe? No. But it is pertinent to the Ultimate Question to the Ultimate Answer.
OH YEA. THAT IS STILL A THING.
When Zaphod and Trillian get pulled back to the Heart of Gold, Arthur and Ford teleported to an unknown ship. We eventually find out this ship - the B Ship - is home to a third of the Golgafrincham. It's full of joggers, a captain whose been sitting in a bathtub for at least 3 years (talk about your pruny fingers) and it is programmed to crash land on a new planet to inhabit as it's old planet was one of impending doom.
What's fun is in reality, Golgafrincham planet got rid of the "useless" third of it's population - the middlemen - apparently that's joggers, hairdressers, insurance salesman and public relations executives. So it created a concept that "three Ark ships" were sent off. In reality they sent the useless third to an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet...
Ford and Arthur are still on this ship. So they are wandering around, honestly away from the crazy third of useless people, and discover what I assume to be cavepeople. So that's cool. They're wandering around, from mountainous land to coastline to ravines to ice fjords. They stumble across something... there is a face in the fjord. A face of a man who had won an award for designed a coastline on...
"An utterly insignificant little blue-green planet which circled a small unregarded yellow sun in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western spiral arm of the Galaxy."
Yep. They sent them to EARTH. The face is that of Slartibartfast, the man who designed the damn coast of Norway.
This planet sent its useless middlemen to what will be known as Earth. It's currently Two Million Years prior. Douglas Adams sets up the whole plot line that Earth is inhabited and founded by people that another planet didn't want. So I'm dying laughing and honestly this is my favorite part of the entire book.
Oh, and then Ford and Arthur play scrabble with the cavepeople who spell out "Forty-Two" - the number Deep Thought designed and built to calculate the Question to the Ultimate Answer.
So Douglas Adams also hints that these natives - cavepeople - are an integral part of the computer program - and the useless third of the Golgafrinchans were never designed or part of the 7 Million Year Experiment by the mice.
Then Ford has Arthur pick out scrabble letters from a bag - because Marvin had clearly seen the Question in his brain - and he pulls out:
"What Do You Get If You Multiply Six by Nine"
So needless to say I'm done with that cute plot line. LOL. But I do love that Arthur is back on his home planet. Even if he is surrounded by cavepeople and joggers.
The book is great. Similar to Book 1 it's very creative, great humour and I love the consistent character additions. But we're left with a lot of questions, with answers that are funny but I don't think they're the actual answers. If they are, that would be disappointing. So I gave it 4 of 5 stars.
So are we done with the Ruler of the Universe? I want to know who the henchmen are that the Ruler of the Universe mentions - six black ships visit his planet. Obviously those relate to the six men who have keys to the planet.
Are we done with the Ultimate Question and Answer? Seriously that plot line I cannot. I'm assuming not as Book 3 is "Life, the Universe and Everything".
Is our gang ever going to be reunited? What happens to Zarniwoop? Wait, what happened to Marvin? Can we go get burgers at Big Bang Burgers?
Also by Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Reviewed April 5, 2020)
Drink Pairing: Jynnan Tonnyax (Gin, Tonic, Garnish)
“To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem.”