Form and Content
Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series brings the absurdity of Franz Kafka and the comedy of the Three Stooges into the realm of science fiction. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy sets the tone for the entire series: Arthur Dent is taken from his sedentary life in a small English town and, in the space of an hour, learns his best friend is actually an alien and researcher for the series’ eponymous travel guide, witnesses the destruction of his home for a highway and then of the Earth for the construction of a hyperspace express route, is taught how to sneak onto the spaceship of his planet’s destroyers, learns that Ford Prefect’s fifteen years on the planet produced an entry about it in the guide of exactly two words (“Mostly harmless”), is forced to listen to the captain’s dangerously bad poetry, and is promptly, along with Ford, kicked out an airlock and into open space. The novel goes on to detail the search by aliens from a higher dimension for the answer to life, the universe, and everything, the answer given by the supercomputer Deep Thought being “forty-two.” The book ends with Arthur, Ford, and their friends Trillian and Zaphod Beeblebrox, who rescued them from certain death, meeting Slartibartfast, a planet designer. They learn that the Earth was in fact a computer designed to produce, after ten million years, the question to go with the answer and that it was destroyed five minutes before the question was finally to be calculated.
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe begins with...
(The entire section is 640 words.)