Gavin F (gavluvsga) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Gavin F

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Book #48: Mostly Harmless by Douglas Adams

Number of pages: 219

This is the final book in Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy series.

The book opens with Trillian on Earth; however, it soon becomes apparent that this plotline is taking place in a parallel universe, one where:
1) Trillian missed her chance to leave with Zaphod Beeblebrox (as told in the first book).
2) The Earth was not demolished by the Vogons.

Shortly into the book, alien creatures arrive who want to take Trillian to the "tenth planet, Rupert".

From that point, the narrative switches to two separate plotlines.

In one, Arthur Dent ends up on an Earth-like planet, while in the other, Ford Prefect discovers the Vogons are apparently invading the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Offices. The two plots do eventually dovetail into each other, and along the way there is a lot of the usual type of humour I've come to expect from in this series, as well as some really random stuff, such as the "Perfectly Normal Beasts" that inhabit Arthur's new planet (I tried to imagine what they might look like). I did notice however, that the story became gradually darker and more serious towards the end.

I read this years ago and I couldn't remember a thing about it, but I found myself enjoying it more the second time, although at times the plot got a bit confusing and I had to re-read sections. In particular, the ending, while completely unexpected, seemed a little abrupt. It also felt a bit cryptic with the way in which it was written, so much that I had to read the last few paragraphs three or four times to make sure I'd understood. Anyway, spoiler ahead...

[Ending major spoiler]

In the final chapter, Arthur and Ford have arrived on the parallel version of earth, to save Trillian from being killed by Arthur's Daughter.

My understanding, after a few readings, and this was confirmed by Wikipedia, was that right after their last scene, this version of Earth was then destroyed by the Vogons; apparently commissioned to do so by the inhabitants of the planet Rupert, because Earth's movements were giving them bad horoscopes.

The writing style at the end, was definitely not quite as to-the-point as moments in older books, such as "...then the universe ended", in the second book, "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe".

According to what I read too, Douglas Adams meant to stop at three books, and was persuaded to write two more - so, he decided to kill everyone off in this one. According to the source I read though, he was also depressed when he wrote this, and apparently wanted to write a sixth - but it never happened because of his untimely death.

I was a little nonplussed by the ending, because it seemed to come out of nowhere, but aside from that, the only bad thing was the absence of characters like Zaphod and Marvin.

[Spoiler (click to open)]

I know ... Marvin died at the end of the fourth book!

Nexrt book: Miracles by C.S. Lewis
Tags: british, comedy, humor, sci-fi

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