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The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - Douglas Adams Witty and pithy, Adams continues his narrated tour of the universe with all of its fecund absurdity, but there's nothing really new here. The original [b:The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy|11|The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide, #1)|Douglas Adams|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327656754s/11.jpg|3078186] turned Vonnegut-style sarcastic science fiction into a genre all of its own. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe carries on the tradition well enough, and there are certainly tons of laughs as well as a neat little elliptical narrative structure that brings a greater degree of closure to the story of Arthur Dent begun in volume one, but there's nothing really imaginatively new and wonderful. That almost sounds like a bad thing, and let me assure you it's not. Restaurant is funny and well-written with tons of memorable one-liners and real-life absurdities that help you step back from life and put things in perspective. I cannot even imagine how brilliant Adams was. His train of thought is a work of art in and of itself.

For me there was a little to liberal a usage of the deus ex-machina to move the story along. I realize, that the plot is hardly the point and that the series serves as a kind of travelogue; plastering human behaviors and absurd cultural practices on the alien other to help us see them for what they really are, but there is a genuine attempt at plot here and at times things are just a little too convenient for my tastes. And Arthur Dent, with whom the bewildered reader most closely identifies as our stand-in for this whirlwind tour, is relegated to the background. Until the end, I was never entirely sure he was even present in many of the scenes until he'd utter a stray and inconsequential line. Zaphod Beebelbrox is funny, but of the comic relief variety, not of the main character variety and I think the plot, if not the story of existence and creation and all, would have benefited from a refocusing in on the more familiar mindset of Dent.

On a truly complimentary note: this is how you do time-travel by the way. I found nothing at all that hung up my intellect the way things like Looper did. Clearly intended as a sort of bridge volume, the novel's most interesting parts are toward the end (the time travel bits) and I'm looking forward to seeing if Adams can continue to juggle the logical consistency and levity that makes this work classic.