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Thursday, October 2, 2008

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish
(Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy #4)
by Douglas Adams
(4/5 stars)

I just spent a long weekend catching up on this series by reading books 2-4. I have to say I enjoyed "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish" far more than I enjoyed the previous two books in the "increasingly inaccurate trilogy." The difference for me is that with this fourth novel Adams seems to take a far more focused approach to the story instead of running around like a kid in the toy aisle as he did in the second and third books. (And really I thought the end of the third novel was a huge cop-out that I could see coming from 93 million miles away.)

In the first book of the series, Earth was destroyed by the bureaucratic Vogons to make room for a hyperspace bypass, subsequently displacing Arthur Dent. Eight years later (for Arthur, not for anyone else) Arthur hitchhikes back to find Earth is back and the whole Vogon demolition chalked up to a mass hallucination caused by the CIA. The only difference is that the dolphins that disappeared before Earth's demise in the first book are still missing. When he comes back, Arthur gets a ride from a man who has a beautiful (albeit crazy) sister in the backseat whom Arthur is instantly smitten with, if only he can find her.

So what we have in this book is actually a sort of romance as Arthur tracks down the woman named Fenchurch for where she was conceived--that's one of those things that's probably funnier if you're British and have been to Fenchurch Station--and they fall in love. Then in the very rushed last couple chapters of the book they go off to visit Wonko the Sane, an expert on dolphins, and in search of God's Last Message to the Universe with the help of Ford Prefect and a giant robot who invades Earth to talk to our "lizards."

Overall, as I said in the beginning, I liked that with this book Adams focused almost exclusively on Arthur and thus we actually have a little bit of character development, which was sorely lacking in parts two and three. I only wish Adams would have taken a little more time with the ending as they get from Earth to this other place far too quickly. Maybe he could have broken it up into two books. But still it's the best in the series since the first one in my mind--others will disagree I'm sure.

On a final note, it doesn't sound like I want to read the fifth one as it sounds like Fenny is written off with little fanfare, thus rendering most of this book moot. What a shame that is.

That is all.

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