Previous in the series: So Long and Thanks for All the Fish.
Finally, I’ve reached the end of what I’ve personally dubbed The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe — all five books written by Douglas Adams. I’ve been looking forward to Mostly Harmless; I have an absurd and lasting fondness for the section which describes Arthur Dent as The Sandwich Maker. My vague memories of the rest of the book mostly involved Random and the new avian incarnation of the titular guide to the galaxy.
Starting Mostly Harmless I was pleasantly surprised. While I’d forgotten Ford’s and Tricia’s plots, I found them and the writing just as engaging as I found So Long and Thanks for All the Fish. Fenchurch’s complete and abrupt disappearance was disappointing, and made me wonder what the point of including her in the series had actually been, but Douglas Adams clearly set out to write a random and inexplicable universe, so it’s not as much of a problem as it might be in another set of books.
What King Antwelm had assumed was that what everybody wanted, all other things being equal, was to be happy and enjoy themselves and have the best possible time together.Mostly Harmless, Douglas Adams
Everything ambles along quite pleasantly, which is what I love about these books. This time around, I empathised particularly with the Grebulons living on Rupert, having forgotten what their mission is and spending all their time watching television. However, I don’t think I’ll turn to astrology to figure out the answer — which we all know is 42.
In the afternoon, she got up and prowled around restlessly, not certain what to do with the rest of her day, or indeed the rest of her life.Mostly Harmless, Douglas Adams
As the final book in the series, Mostly Harmless feels a little incomplete. Douglas Adams writes nothing about what Zaphod is doing, or what’s happening with the president of the galaxy. While the ending, if I’m reading it correctly, ties up the stories of Arthur, Tricia, Trillian, Ford and Random, it leaves a vast number of questions unanswered. Maybe that’s the point, though, in which case I can’t be mad about it. And besides, I know that And Another Thing… is somewhere in my future.
With the exception of Life, the Universe and Everything, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed revisiting these books, and I’ll definitely be reading them again.