Anatomy of a Book: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams

In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. (p.1)

Take a large, serious topic like the Universe and mock it. That is what Douglas Adams has done. He’s done it with some scientific accuracy and some implausible science theory, and made it real with human characteristics.

The Total Perspective Vortex derives its picture of the whole Universe on the principle of extrapolated matter analyses…. The man who invented the Total Perspective Vortex did so basically to annoy his wife. (p.76)

Within this world there are bits of meaning:

…she saw in one instant the whole infinity of creation and herself in relation to it…the shock completely annihilated her brain… (but) had proved conclusively that if life is going to exist in a Universe of this size, then one thing it cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion. (p.77)

Which are offered via satire, but more importantly it also attempts to tell a story of people within the world. These people, Zaphod Beeblebrox, Trillian, Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent, have things to overcome.

Changing Status:
This book is part of a series. In this one Zaphod Beeblebrox, ex-president of the galaxy, is on a non-personal quest to find out who runs the Universe. Which is difficult because: Who can possibly rule if no one who wants to do it can be allowed to? (p.197)

High Stakes:
Zaphod is also under constant attack.

Believable Characters:
As shown above, the greatest motives are often born from petty, selfish things. Most characters in the book are selfish somehow. This makes them believable.

Time Pressure:
With Zaphod being chased the group never stays in one area for long.

The book shows a Universe that is our own as a mirror to our own planet. And if that is too deep, then at the least it is funny to read. And that’s important.


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