Part LSD trip, part pop philosophy, part Harry Potter, part Monty Python, and part Star Trek. I’d seen this book on many top 100 lists and finally got around to reading it. It was a fun read.
Arthur Dent, British everyman, finds himself pulled into an intergalactic quest to find the question to the meaning of life – a question that apparently has already been determined to have the answer of “42”. This adventure also fortutiously (for Arthur) begins 5 minutes before the destruction of earth (it was in the way of much needed new intergalatic highway).
Adams uses the limitless possibilities of space as a canvas on which to paint beautifully absurd situations and often hilarious social commentary.
The book ends on a cliff hanger, so I will most likely be digging into the next books in the series.
Here’s a taste of the prose, discussing the Babel fish – a fish that is able to translate languages if you put it in your ear:
“Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as the final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.
The argument goes something like this: “I refuse to prove that I exist,'” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”
“But,” says Man, “The Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t. QED.”
“Oh dear,” says God, “I hadn’t thought of that,” and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
“Oh, that was easy,” says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.”