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The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

23 Feb
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe” is the second book in the series of trilogy of five books from Douglas Adams following the super-hit “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy“. The plot continues from where it left off in the first book. The four members of The Heart of Gold, Zaphod (the eccentric President of the galaxy), Ford (the hitchhiker who edits the book H2G2), Arthur and Trillian (the two lone survivors of Earth) along with Marvin – the manically depressed robot – are on the run after being on the verge of death at the hands of Magrathean cops. I would not like to spoil the ending of the first book to reveal why they were in peril in the first place… πŸ˜›
    The four scamper with the spaceship, putting light years between them and the Horsehead Nebula being closely followed by a Vogon hit-squadron to eliminate the last of the earthmen in order to fulfill the wishes of Gag Halfrunt, one of the Galaxy’s most prominent and successful psychiatrists. Craving for a cup of tea, Arthur orders the Nutri-Matic Drink Synthesizer which inturn requests the Sirius cybernetics computer onboard, to make him a cup of tea. The computer goes into hang mode trying to understand the best mechanism in making the best tea. And call it coincidence or dumb luck, that was the very moment when the Vogons started the barrage of a dozen 30-Megahurt Definit-Kil Photrazon Cannon. And at this rate their defense shields would survive for just about 4minutes and they cannot run the improbability drive as the computer is busy with making Tea. πŸ˜› Zaphod summons his great grandfather who is incidentally called Zaphod Beeblebrox IV (yes… you read it right!! Zaphod IV is the great-grandad of Zaphod – big story of a time travel and a contraceptive gone wrong… :P) is ashamed of Zaphod as he has totally forgotten his single most important deed – “to find the person ruling the universe!” and refuses to help. Finally, Zaphod IV stops time and with a bolt of lightning through the old man’s finger, the Heart of Gold leapt an unknown distance through the dimensions of time and space. When things clear out, Zaphod and Marvin are missing from the space ship, while Arthur is delighted to taste the best tea ever made by the Nutri-Matic Drink Synthesizer. πŸ˜€
    Zaphod and Marvin appear at the H2G2 office and reach the 15th floor, to meet Zarniwoop and not even Zaphod knows why he wants to meet him in the first place. Meanwhile the Frogstar Fighters attack the office and lift the entire building out of the ground and carry it to Frogstar World B where Zaphod will be punished for the crime of stealing the ship by putting him under the Total Perspective Vortex – the single most complex device which brings to the picture of how insignificant one is when compared to the universe. But the device has no effect on Zaphod and he is amazed to find a working spaceship in the barren land out of which Zarniwoop emerges to say that the current world is a virtual world created by him, for the single purpose of meeting Zaphod and in-turn to help Zaphod to fulfill his quest/deed. Zarniwoop reveals that the weird metal object in Zaphod’s pocket is in-fact the Heart of Gold. Zaphod jumps into the ship and he out of hunger requests the spaceship to take them to the closest possible restaurant and the improbability drive kicks in to take them to “Milliways – The Restaurant at the End of the Universe” – which literally means that a restaurant built to watch the end of the universe taking them into a time travel (millions of years into the future) instead of space travel. It’s also good to note that the restaurant at the start of the universe is called the Big Bang Burger Bar. πŸ˜› In the parking lot, they find Marvin, who was left out by Zaphod, to save his own life at the H2G2’s office and with the robots help, steal a black ship belonging to Hotblack Desiato (famous singer) which in-fact is designed to ride the solar flares and to their luck, find that the auto pilot cannot be over ridden. They survive again (come on!!! how many near-death experiences for the same set of people?? :P) by using a not-fully-functional teleporter which shifts Arthur and Ford to the Golgafrinchan Ark Fleet Ship B, heading to a crash on a desolate looking planet meanwhile the where-abouts of Zaphod and Trillian are completely unknown to them. Zarniwoop, Zaphod and Trillian arrive at a strange planet to meet the ruler of the universe, while on the other planet Arthur and Ford discover certain truth, which changes their belief and understanding about their life.
There are some famous and superb quotes/dialogues in this book:
  • In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.
  • The Guide is definitive. Reality is frequently inaccurate.” – talking about the H2G2 lawsuit.
  • To summarize: it is a well known fact, that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem.
  • I am the main Dish of the Day. May I interest you in parts of my body?” – the dairy animal at the Milliways restaurant requesting for order… πŸ˜€
  • How can I tell that the past isn’t a fiction designed to account for the discrepancy between my immediate physical sensations and my state of mind?” – When the ruler of the universe is asked about how long he has been ruling the universe.
  • I’m so great even I get tongue-tied talking to myself.
  • Trillian: “Have another drink, Enjoy yourself.”. Arthur: ”Which? the two are mutually exclusive.”
  • The End of the Universe is very popular, people like to dress up for it, Gives it a sense of occasion.
Loved reading this book as much as I loved reading the H2G2. But the end of the book is sort of dull when compared to the first one. For this reason i give an 8/10. A good read!! πŸ™‚

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

17 Feb
    “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” fondly known as H2G2, initially began as a BBC radio comedy in 1978 then turned into a book: “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, which is the first book in the “trilogy” of five books (nope.. Its not a typing error. you read right! It is a trilogy of 5 books!! :P) by comedy/science-fiction novelist Douglas Adams.
    Arthur Dent, the protagonist, wakes up one fine Thursday morning to find a bulldozer ready to mow down his beloved home of 3 years, to create a by-pass expressway. He protests severely and lies in front of the bulldozer to prevent the destruction. Little does he know that none of these things mattered and in about 2 hours, planet Earth was going to be destroyed to make way for a hyper-spatial express route through our star system! Talk about coincidence πŸ˜› Arthur is not even aware that his best friend Ford Prefect, a small time actor, is in fact from a planet in the Betelgeuse star system. While hitchhiking across the galaxy to edit the ultimate guide book for space travelers – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Ford (whose alien name is hard enough to be pronounced by many) gets stranded and has been stuck on earth from the past 15 years. Ford drags Arthur to a bar, gets him drunk and reveals his true identity and informs him that the Earth is about to be destroyed by the fierce-some Vogons.
    The Vogons arrive and announce their intentions to every citizen of planet about their intentions while reasoning that the plan to destroy earth has been put up on the notice boards of Alpha Centauri. Humans obvious response to that is – “But we have never been to Alpha centauri!” To which, the Vogons respond: “What do you mean you’ve never been to Alpha Centauri? For heaven’s sake mankind, it’s only four light years away you know. I’m sorry, but if you can’t be bothered to take an interest in local affairs that’s your own lookout.” and destroy the planet with their demolition beams. πŸ˜› The ever ready to hitch-a-ride Ford explains the importance of a towel in space travel to Arthur through a description in the guide and hitches a ride through one of the Vogon crafts along with an unconscious Arthur. Having been saved, Ford and Arthur find themselves in mortal danger for the second time on the same day, when the Vogans discover about the hitchhikers on their space ship. A punishment is meted out to both which requires listening to the Vogon poetry (the third most terrible poetry in the world). Ultimately, they are thrown out of the Vogon spaceship.
    Meanwhile parallely, about 500,000 light years from the star Sol, the eccentric, publicity-seeking, worst dressed, tow-headed genius, the President of the Imperial Galactic Government and semi-cousin of Ford -> Zaphod Beeblebrox, steals “The Heart of Gold” – the most technically advanced spaceship ever built. During his unveiling ceremony, describing The Heart of Gold he says, “That is so amazingly amazing I think I’d like to steal it”. This one line sums up all the characteristics of Zaphod! πŸ˜›
    The chances of picking up a person alive in a capsule at some point in space by a random spaceship has a probability of two to the power of two hundred and seventy-six thousand to one against, which is the exact phone number of Arthur. Again talk about coincidence!! And they are picked up by the Heart of Gold which has the Improbability drive which means that the space craft at any one moment, can be at any point and every point of the universe at the same time. In the spaceship, Arthur meets Marvin – the robot with a depressed attitude towards everything. Marvin leads them to Zaphod and Trillian – the only other earthling who survived the destruction and accomplice of Zaphod. From here on, it is a wonderful, unexpected, sometimes hilarious, sometimes dry-humorous journey where the four (Zaphod, Trillian, Ford and Arthur) along with Marvin travel to Magrathea, the ancient planet which till then was assumed to be a fantasy/bedtime story planet. Here they discover the secrets of the universe and how everything in the universe that has been going on from the past 10 million years is now connected and dependent on one man – Arthur.
    There have been several quotes and statements in the book which are very famous and some of them might be recognized very easily. A few famous ones:
  • Have you any idea how much damage that bulldozer would suffer if I just let it roll straight over you?
  • Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”
  • So long and thanks for all the fish.” — All time hit quote among hitchhiker fans. πŸ™‚
  • DON’T PANIC” – The words inscribed on the cover of H2G2.
  • H2G2’s description of Earth: “HARMLESS“. — πŸ˜›
  • Ford on editing the H2G2 changes it to: “MOSTLY HARMLESS” — hehehe… absolutely brilliant!! πŸ˜€
    One word for the book – HILARIOUS!! This comic style of writing is sufficient for the reader to hold onto the book more dearly, hoping for more gems and the author delivers them aplenty, during the course of the novel. Unlike any other book, the author dishes out one surprise after another, from improbable and in many cases impossible scenarios. The answers to the eternal mind-boggling questions such as, “what are the purposes of life/universe and everything in it?” are answered in this book… πŸ˜€ His style of writing lets us grin all the way from the beginning to the end while his imagination of all things in the universe in-turn, lets our imagination run wild. A 9/10 for this one!! πŸ™‚