The Hitchhiker`s Guide to the Galaxy Books
How it all began…mostly. While this is the medium that first brought the glory of Douglas Adams to the masses (particularly across the pond), the novel is preceded by the radio show of the same name and which was the basis for all that came after. But then, odds are, you know that, and even if you don`t, with such a straightforward telling of the Guide`s history, one may well take the time to ask, "Who cares?" The fact is, all that stuff you can get (and told in a much more interesting fashion I`m sure) from Douglas…what you want from us is something really gripping, perhaps some juicy gossip, or at least a reasonably entertaining take on the subject from which we seem to have strayed rather drastically, that is to say, the books.
On that note, let us begin by saying that the first three are the best of the lot. After that the series begins to lose a bit of friction on the hill which it had been steadily climbing. So, let us compare the tri-novel opening of the trilogy to the two novels that bring up what will henceforth be known as the rear. The trilogy begins with Earth being blown up. Mostly Harmless ends with that, and we don`t even get the boom. From this we can see that if Adams was using the earth`s destruction by those most simple-minded hulking green giants—Vogons—as a jumping off point for even greater things in the beginning, by the end he had realized that the narrative of a book that eventually makes its way round to a detailed discussion of sandwich-making had damn well better get back to something on the order of an exploding earth, or else he was going to have a severely anti-climactic book on his hands. In short, he had more to work with the first three times around.
Of course, he had also inconvenienced himself by limiting his use of Zaphod in So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, and Mostly Harmless. That, for me, is greatly distressing. After all, he even goes so far as to inform us that Arthur Dent has finally plucked up the gumption to go out and fuck on an airplane wing, and we are left, as it were, in the lurch regarding Mr. Beeblebrox`s activities, sexual and otherwise.
Of course, as distressing as that is to some of us, we cannot say that we don`t like the latter two, that`s like saying with didn`t like the later novels from Wodehouse. Of course we like them, I mean, Douglas Adams` mediocre is everyone else`s wicked good, so we can`t exactly complain (that`s right, all that stuff above isn`t complaining).
So here, finally, we come to the synopses of all five novels.
Beginning at the beginning:
1) The Hitchhiker`s Guide to the Galaxy
The Earth blows up, Zaphod steals the Heart of Gold, and Arthur spends the vast majority of his and everyone else`s time extremely confused.
2) The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
More stuff happens, they meet people, they flit about the galaxy, Marvin has a transcendental experience in a black-on-black spaceship as the rest save their own sorry asses, and a weird cow invites the crew to have it as dinner.
3) Life, The Universe, and Everything
One word: Agrajag. And a few more: Slartibartfast, saving the world, a quick tangential commentary on the Silastic Armorfiends of Striterax, Krikkit, Hactar and my personal favorite, Slartibartfast (with some crazy stuff about Prak and Belgium thrown in too)
4) So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
Arthur makes it back to Earth, but things are not as they seem (dun dun DUNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!) Please excuse that flagrant display of pathetic high concept bullshit. Arthur meets a Rain God, fucks Fenchurch, flies, and they visit Wonko the Sane outside of the Asylum.
5) Mostly Harmless
And so, we arrive at the end. In fact, most everyone does. Good thing too, I`m fairly certain that Agrajag was getting pretty fed up waiting for Arthur to make it to Stavromula Beta. But what do we have before we get there? Well, Tricia, Trillian, an out of control Guide, lots and lots of sandwiches, and Old Thrashbarg.
As anyone can see from the most cursory glance over this, I really haven`t bothered to put much effort into…oh, wait, that`s not supposed to go there. No, what I mean to say is that one can easily see that these are all fascinatingly wonderful stories, and Douglas Adams is the best ever. Yes, that sounds about right.