25 Nov 2009
Finished “Mostly Harmless” last night. It’s the fifth book in the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” series by Douglas Adams, and for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been working my way through the books.
Under the covers.
With the book light on.
Sounds pathetic, no? That’s what happens when one person gets up at 0600 to get a child off to school, and the other comes in at 2 a.m. from a shift in the salt mines: crawl under the covers, pull the sheets over the head and switch on the miniature spotlight, and the world shrinks down to the words on the page.
As for “Harmless,” short answer: a bigger meh than the first time I read it, years ago. The ending seemed contrived, like Adams knew the story is supposed to end the way it did.
Should I add a spoiler warning after all this time? All right, stop here before I reveal that the Vogons eliminate the alternate Earth, this time with Arthur, Ford and Trillian on it. It satisfies the human need for unity, but the series is based around the notion that the universe is a confusing, mysterious, weird place. Seems like it would be the absolute last place where unity and sense would be found out in the open.
You know, if you told me that Douglas Adams had ADD, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit. The books shout it, as plot points rise and fall, zip off under the couch never to be found, and new chickens pop up. The first two books work the best, of course, in part I suspect because he wrote them several times, from radio to record to tv series to book (I’m sure I got the order wrong, but you get the idea).
This would be less frustrating if he wasn’t so great when he got it right. The books are short, but the ideas are big from the very beginning: the Earth being demolished for a bypass, the Babelfish (now acquired by Google), Marvin, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, bistromathics, and of course 42.
So I’ll take a look at “And Another Thing,” but after the reviews I’ve seen so far, I’ll not expect anything better than “Salmon of Doubt.”