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The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, by Douglas Adams, is a wholly remarkable book. One could talk about this grand achievement in great detail, or even write a review of it.
Said review could begin something like this:
“The Restaurant at the End of the Universe,” it would say, “is brilliant. Really brilliant. You just won’t believe how mind-bogglingly brilliant it is. I mean, you may think that its predecessor, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it a fantastic book, but that’s just peanuts to The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Listen...”
And so on.
This wholly remarkable book, is a sequel and direct continuation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which, while very enjoyable, is not required to read its sequel. In fact, it summarizes the first book quite well.
“The story so far:
“In the beginning, the universe was created.
“This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.”
Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Zaphod Beeblebrox, Tricia McMillan (referred to as Trillian), and “Marvin, the Paranoid Android,” are travelling in space, searching for the ultimate question to the ultimate answer, which happens to be 42. This rag-tag group finds themselves attacked, then separated through teleportation, each embarking on various misadventures, until they are reunited at the titular Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
All of this may not sound very interesting, but when you add a sparkling British wit, the book reaches a new level of ingeniousness. The book is filled with humor, not only from its characters, but from its omnipotent narrator, who blends exposition, wittiness and personality perfectly. Most notably, the book creates illogical conclusions that seem surprisingly logical.
“It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.”
Where the book really shines is in its dialogue. Every line uses just the right word and pacing to create many quotable moments. Chapter six in particular, contains one of the greatest exchanges I’ve ever seen, too good to spoil. Instead, I offer a fine section from late in the book.
"’And the wheel," said the Captain, ‘What about this wheel thingy? It sounds a terribly interesting project.’
‘Ah,’ said the marketing girl, ‘Well, we're having a little difficulty there.’
‘Difficulty?’ exclaimed Ford. ‘Difficulty? What do you mean, difficulty? It's the single simplest machine in the entire Universe!’
The marketing girl soured him with a look.
‘Alright, Mr. Wiseguy,’ she said, ‘if you're so clever, you tell us what colour it should be.’”
Using existing words in the English language, it is impossible to describe the greatness of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, so I’ll make my own.
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe is Quaquel. Quaquel being defined as “at a similar greatness to The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, and is highly recommended to anyone, from you, to your family, to your friend’s cousin’s acquaintance's pet gerbil.”
Brilliant is a word that is tossed around lightly, so much so that’s a lot of its meaning has been lost. Brilliant can be defined as “distinguished by an unusual mental keenness,” a definition that perfectly embodies my favorite book of all time, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.