So long, and thanks for all the laughs.

Just finished Douglas Adams’ So Long and Thanks for all the Fish, the fourth installment in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy.»? It wasn’t as good as the previous three efforts.»? Adams opted for more seriousness than I care for in an Adams novel and the whole story lacked direction.»? I’m still not sure what the point of the book was—I’m inclined to think that there was no story at all, other than the relationship between Arthur and Fenchurch.

Nevertheless, it’s a Hitchhiker’s Guide novel, so all that is excusable.»? It was still a pleasure to read.

Some favourite funny bits:

‘This man is the bees knees, Arthur, he is the wasp’s nipples.»? He is, I would go so far as to say, the entire set of erogenous zones of every major flying insect of the Western world.’


[a scientist at a press conference about the so-called “Rain God”, a man who “brings” rain with him wherever he goes]

‘I’m afraid I can’t comment on the name Rain God at the present time, and we are calling him an example of a Spontaneous Para-Causal Meteorological Phenomenon.’

‘Can you tell us what that means?’

‘I’m not altogether sure.»? Let’s be straight here.»? If we find something we can’t understand, we like to call it something»? you can’t understand, or indeed pronounce.»? I mean if we just let you go around calling him a Rain God, then that suggests you know something we don’t, and I’m afraid we couldn’t have that.

‘No, first we have to call it something which says it’s ours, not yours, then we set about finding some way of proving it’s not what you said it is, but something we say it is.

‘And if it turns out that you’re right, you’ll still be wrong, because we will simply call him a … er, “Supernormal…” — not paranormal or supernatural because you think you know what those mean now, no, a “Supernormal Incremental Precipitation Inducer”.»? We’ll probably want to shove a “Quasi” in there somewhere to protect ourselves.»? Rain God!»? Huh, never heard such nonsense in my life.»? Admittedly, you wouldn’t catch me going on holiday with him.’

9 thoughts on “So long, and thanks for all the laughs.

  1. Simon

    I’ve got the whole ‘trilogy’ in a single omnibus and, given the history of the whole story, am surprised that it’s as coherent as it is. I *think* it started,, years and years and years ago, as a radio transcript that aired partially and then eventually morphed into book form, not entirely consistent with the original, some made-up bits mashing the whole thing together.

    Had me laughing out loud the couple times I’ve read through it. I also have his Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency omnibus to read through on my night stand.

    And I have to say (Doug would probably agree were he still around) that the movie sucked when placed even marginally close to the infinite improbability drive.

  2. Marc

    I, too, had the omnibus, but, for reasons I won’t get into here, I gave it away and purchased a 5-book box-set instead.

    You’re right: it started as a radio script and then morphed into several other things, including books, television and now the movie, and each time the whole thing was different from the others.

    You’re right about the movie, incidentally. But then that isn’t really inconsistent with the history of the story anyway—except that, as far as I know, Adams had little to do with the script.

  3. Marc

    Why do you care, O, Bearer of Said Omnibus I Gave Away?

    But seriously: the book was cursed and wanted it out of my house as soon as possible.

    No, kidding again.

    It’s a psychological thing wherein I have difficulty completing books that are bound in an omnibus. Hence I have not yet finished The Jeeves & Wooster Omnibus, in spite of my love for P.G. Wodehouse’s writings. I prefer my books to be individual books. And, yes, I have difficulty with books of short stories and essays as well. I am working on it. I recently read through The Lamp at Noon and Other Stories by Sinclair Ross, although that is a rather thin volume.

  4. Darren

    Actually, the late Mr. Adams (get the reference?) had a lot to do with the screenplay. After the regretable BBC television production of the Guide (if you’ve seen this, you’ll know what I mean), Douglas vowed it would never play on a screen again, regardless of size. He was, in the end, persuaded to give it another go, and at last comment, he was really pleased with how it was turning out (you may recall he died in 2001… June?). Anyway…

    Marc, did I ever send you the mp3’s of the radio program (I have all 12 episodes)?

    If you’re looking forward to a rather perplexing conclusion to the whole thing, move on to “Mostly Harmless”. Judging by your comments above, Marc, I doubt you will ever read, “The Salmon of Doubt”, as it’s a compelation of bits and pieces Adams wrote and left on his collection of defunct Macintosh computers. It is, however, a wonderful insight into the mind of (in my opinion) a great author.

  5. Toni

    Marc, note my words.







    Got that?

    You’ll probably wish to start questioning the meaning of existence, and quite possibly why you wish to retain one any longer.

    It’s like Adams had decided he didn’t want to write any more in that series. Ever. Lets just say that they all die in the end with no way back, and it isn’t either funny OR ironic. Literature to make civilisations crumble, even without an excess of shoe shops.

    The Salmon of Doubt is, however, a definite ‘must read’ even if you’re not an Adams fan.

    Dirk Gently? Pah.

  6. Marc

    But, but, but, Toni, Mostly Harmless is part of a box set? How could I not read it? How could I not read it after being left hanging by So Long, And Thanks for all the Fish?

    I’ll tell you what: I’ll read both Mostly Harmless and The Salmon of Doubt.

  7. Toni

    Marc – It’s just a boring, depressing and badly written piece. Read it if you want – that’s 4 hours of your life you’ll never get back.

    Chris bought it for me as a special treat.


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