My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The adventures of Arthur Dent and company continue as Zaphod Beeblebrox chases after whatever it was that he made himself forget, and the group seeks the question to match the answer to life, the universe, and everything. Neither of these issues is resolved with great satisfaction (leaving plenty to be covered in the remaining three books of this five book trilogy.) However, we do learn why Earthlings are so prone to war and bureaucracy.
Time travel is a key plot device in this book. If hilarity will get you over any hurdle, you’ll love The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. But if you’re the kind who geeks out on the minutiae like the grandfather paradox, this book may drive you crazy. They travel forward through time from a period shortly after the end of Earth until the end of the universe. Then they go back to a period 2 million years before the end of Earth.
Spatially they travel from a Vogon-threatened Heart of Gold (ship) in deep space to the Ursa Minor headquarters of the publishers of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to a planet in the Frogstar system that is home to the Total Perspective Vortex (or so Zaphod thinks) to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe (which, coincidentally, is on the same Frogstar planet) to a planet where a ship full of management specialists and telephone sanitizers (and Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect) crash lands. All the while they run into new puzzles and adventures.
While the book is named for the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, that locale is not especially significant to the story. They visit the restaurant in the middle of the book. The restaurant does provide more than its fair share of gags. For example, the group’s interaction with a cow that is bred to encourage diners to eat it is classic Douglas Adams.
This is definitely a character-driven novel. There’s not much of a plot to speak of, but it is hilarious.