It’s safe to say that The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the
Galaxy is one of the funniest science fiction novels ever written.
Adams spoofs many core science fiction tropes: space travel, aliens, interstellar
war–stripping away all sense of wonder and repainting them as commonplace,
even silly. This omnibus edition begins with The Hitchhiker’s Guide
to the Galaxy, in which Arthur Dent is introduced to the galaxy at
large when he is rescued by an alien friend seconds before Earth’s destruction.
Then in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Arthur and his
new friends travel to the end of time and discover the true reason for
Earth’s existence. In Life, the Universe, and Everything, the gang
goes on a mission to save the entire universe. So Long, and Thanks for
All the Fish recounts how Arthur finds true love and “God’s Final Message
to His Creation.” Finally,
Mostly Harmless is the story of Arthur’s
continuing search for home, in which he instead encounters his estranged
daughter, who is on her own quest. There’s also a bonus short story, “Young
Zaphod Plays It Safe,” more of a vignette than a full story, which
wraps up this completist’s package of the Don’t Panic chronicles.
As the series progresses, its wackier elements diminish, but the satire
of human life and foibles is ever present. —Brooks Peck