This is the second instalment of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, which I’m absolutely in love with.
This novel begins with the Heart of Gold being attacked by the Vogons. You know, as you do. Obviously, nobody on board wants to die (apart from, perhaps, the Paranoid Android). They don’t have much time, so Zaphod Beeblebrox does the first thing that comes to his mind; he summons the ghost of his great-grandfather, Zaphod Beeblebrox the Fourth.
Zaphod suddenly finds himself in the lobby of the office blocks of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, upon the planet Ursor Minor Beta. To his unfortunate luck, he’s accompanied by Marvin, the depressed robot.
Thanks to the locked-off part of his brain (and a few hints from his deceased relative), Zaphod is certain that the reason he is where he is is because he needs to see Zarniwoop – a guy who he is pretty certain he’s never met before. Instead, an entire half of the office block is taken to Frostar World B, home of the Total Perspective Vortex. Being in this vortex is the worst fate anyone can suffer; being shown the true size of the Universe and feeling how very tiny you are to it in comparison.
Zaphod is led to the vortex by a disembodied mind, but surprisingly remains unaffected by what he sees. He then finds Zarniwoop on an abandoned airship, and is told that they are not, in fact, in the real world as such.
Anyway, Zaphod discovers that he has been carrying the Heart of Gold within his coat pocket, his friends safely on board. Zarniwoop revives it to its full size, and the crew ask the computer to send them to the nearest place to eat. It turns out that this would be Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. It’s located on Frogstar Planet B, but a fair while into the future – at the exact time the universe ends, in fact.
Marvin, having been left alone in the past, finally calls to tell his friends that he has been waiting for them in the car park the whole time. No longer interested in the Heart of Gold or the mission he required it for, Zaphod decides to steal a jet-black ship parked beside the limoship of a famous band. (They happen to be famous not due to their talent, but due to the sheer volume of their concerts.) As luck would have it, this ship is actually the stunt ship used in the band’s performances, and as its passengers their fate is to crash into the sun with it.
Using the unfinished transport device on board, the crew are sent safety. Trillian and Zaphod find themselves with Zarniwoop, on their way to interrogate the ruler of the Universe, who happens to live alone in a shack with a cat whom he has dubbed The Lord. Arthur and Ford, however, are aboard a ship full of frozen coffin-like items, which is fleeing a doomed planet and heading for a new home.
Upon this new planet, Ford and Arthur meet the ape-like beings who already live there. With the coming of the new people, these beings begin to die out. Much to Arthur’s dismay, as this planet turns out to be Earth two million years before its destruction. And if these native creatures don’t survive, then that means the human race is evolved from the idiots that crash landed there.
Desperate to help the natives along their revolutionary path, Arthur attempts to teach them the art of Scrabble. Sadly, this doesn’t quite work. All this really achieves is them discovering the Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything, which they already knew to be forty-two. What they really want to know is the original Question, which they are certain is not six multiplied by nine.
This sequel is just as fantastically crazy as the first, and I love it just as much! The characters are all very much the same, with their unique personalities and quirks. Arthur’s love for tea also plays a huge part in this story…
It’s clever in the most absurd way, and as subtly hilarious as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I love it so much, it’s definitely in my favourites! Five stars for this book by Douglas Adams.