• The Good: Scifi, humor, all-around madness
  • The Bad: You may have to get out your old Scrabble tiles to check for any hidden brain waves
  • The Literary: Epitome of its genre

All Arthur Dent wants is a cup of tea. He painfully explains the East Indian Trading Company and cow’s milk to the computer on the Heart of Gold, because all it ever produces is an undrinkable tea-like sludge. Eddie the Shipboard Computer puts all its processing power to work, and so when a Vogan ship attacks, all aboard are sitting ducks. Desperate, Zaphod calls his great-grandfather Zaphod Beeblebrox the Fourth through a seance, who then proceeds to send Zaphod on a quest to find the Ruler of the Universe before scolding him thoroughly. Zaphod and Marvin transport to the tropical home planet of the Hitchhiker’s Guide’s publisher Megadodo Publications, while Arthur, Ford, and Trillian remain on the ship suspended in a black void.

So begins the second book in the five book trilogy The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Further hijinks ensue, complete with many absurdist jokes, sharp social commentary, and philosophical questions, the answers of which tend to poke fun at ourselves and God. Everything I love about the first book and its ability to quell the deeply existential worries of humanity’s purpose is here. Plus, Marvin does something incredibly heroic.

You’ll meet:

  • Gargravarr, a disembodied mind who runs the Total Perspective Vortex, a device that shows any who enter the totality of the infinite universe in a single instant
  • Hotblack Desiato, a member of the rock band Disaster Area, which is known for making the loudest sound in the universe
  • The Ruler of the Universe, who, thanks to narrator Martin Freeman, has an appropriately dotty Liverpool accent

You’ll uncomfortably laugh at:

  •  A planet that collapsed through a process called the “Shoe Event Horizon” which rendered its economy unable to support any enterprises besides shoe stores
  • A spaceliner whose passengers have been forcibly kept in 900 years of suspended animation by the autopilot after the collapse of their civilization until a new one could develop to load the ship with lemon-coated paper napkins
  • A population more preoccupied with gathering requirements and customer input on how one might use fire before they go through the effort of trying to invent it

Highly recommended for any ape-descended life form that still thinks digital watches are a pretty neat idea!