Science Fiction Though the Decades

Friday, September 7, 2012

1982: Hitchhiker's 3: Life, the Universe and Everything (Adams, Douglas)

Book 3: Life, the Universe and Everything (2/5)

Living apart from Ford, Arthur ekes out a living in a cave with his bathrobe and rabbit-skin bag. Randomly insulted by Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged and later running into Ford Prefect, Arthur and his hitchhiking friend hop upon a sofa which materializes from the eddies in the space-time continuum which dumps them onto the Lord’s cricket pitch two days prior to Earth’s destruction. Ford employs his knowledge to the Somebody Else’s Problem field to gather that Slatibartfast has hidden his craft, the Starship Bistromath, in plain view. Once together, the three witness Krikkit robots descendto murder the people on the ground and fly off with a wooden wicket of the Ashes.

The Starship Bistro harnesses “all the ship’s computation… done on a waiter’s bill pad” (41) which is just at erratic at the Infinite Improbability Drive. Meanwhile, Marvin pivots around himself in the mud on the mattress-inhabited planet Squornshellous Zeta. Having his leg stolen for the use as a Key in the Wikkit Gate by a hoard of robots, the thieving robots further collect random bits of seeming rubbish so that they can unlock their planet of Krikkit in statis, something which Slartibartfast, Ford, and Arthur are trying to hinder.

The Krikkit race, as xenophobic and wantonly destructive (but also “whimsical… ordinary people… charming, delightful, intelligent” [73]) as they come, had been sealed off from the rest of the universe when they had discovered that their normally blank, dull, drab, dreary, matte sky actually held other lifeforms, which they deducted from a crashed spacecraft and the construction of their own craft within one year. Having spewed death across near space, their isolation was eventually their punishment… except for that one craft and its horde of robots.

Inexplicably, Arthur is materialized to a spacious cave which houses a 50-fooot statue of his self and one angry, angry ugly alien who posits that Arthur had killed his reincarnated being many, many times over; once a fly, Arthur killed him; once a rabbit, Arthur killed him; once a newt, Arthur killed him… and so on. Even more inexplicably, he soon found himself with the ability to fly and finds atop a mountain “a small navy-blue holdall that he knew for a fact he had lost in a baggage-retrieval system at Athens airport some ten years in his personal time-scale” (102). Oh, one hell of a party also shows up, a party which had been going on for four generations before being crashed by Slartibartfast, Arthur, and his boozer friend Ford.


I wonder if this story made any sense to anyone. It felt like one disconnected scene, mildly amusing at maximum, after another disconnected scene. Stringing together random silly subplots doesn’t make the greater plot more cohesive. From witty (Hitchhiker’s Guide) to absurd (The Restaurant) and now at random—I suppose the “everything” in the title of the book applies to the “everything” which poured forth from the mind of Douglas Adams. Trillian, seemingly forgotten for two whole books, makes a late yet awkward appearance to simmer things down. I kept rhetorically asking myself, “What, what, what did I miss?”

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