Arthur Dent finds himself living alone on prehistoric Earth, in a cold, damp cave His friend Ford Prefect, bored, has wandered off early without saying a word, to Africa, Arthur learns later The duo time travelers are here not voluntarily, and have tried to adjust, the whole gang s been scattered all through the Galaxy not a fun situation Marvin, the depressed but amusing robot, has conversations with a talking mattress in a strange planet, Trillian, at a party that never ends and Zaphod Beeblebrox, is sulking on the Heart of Gold, his spaceship almost, he borrowed it a lonely man Never too well does Mr.Dent live, he s no great farmer, or hunter not even very brave Scraping just enough food, to survive in this alien world, yes, it s good old Terra, but to the Englishman might as well be Mars, and speaking to trees to keep from becoming, insane The only excitement, in the five stranded years here, or four came after a couple of trips around the Sun, sometime ago A spaceship landed in front of Arthur s dull cave, and coming down the ramp a tall gray green alien stranger said, You re a jerk , Dent The flabbergasted Arthur, mumbled some incoherent noises which should have been words, before the alien went up the ramp again and left as quickly as he arrived This mysterious creature is an immortal, so lacking in things to do he has devised an activity, maybe not the most worthwhile he himself acknowledges, and quite impossible also To go and visit everyone in the Universe and insult them, a man can dream can t he Don t hate Mr Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged, every man wants a hobby to keep busy At last Prefect returns from Africa, and tells the caveman about his bloody adventures there, importantly of instability in the fabric of Space Time, as a sofa magically appears and disappears, before their eyes Ford Prefect says to Dent, for their salvation go after it , running wildly down the hill the two, jump, fall, roll , trying to capture the piece of furniture as it gyrates, fades in and out always moving up and down At last jumping on the sofa and presto, their back home immediately inside Slartibartfast Ironically, the old retired planet builder s spaceship but first landing on a cricket match, in London , only to discover the Planet Krikkit, wants to destroy the whole Universe, againouch.They must prevent them somehow but how It seems the unfortunate inhabitants of this sad world at the edge of the galaxy, have the worst night sky anywhere Blackness, no stars or other planets, even moons, they lack nothing to see, a complete, gloomy, tedious darkness A gigantic space cloud precludes any view, not a fun place for stargazing Which really ticks them off, you can imagine A previous war just ten billion years before, had devastated the galaxy, thousands of warships, millions of killer white robots sent by Krikkit before it was stopped, not a very glorious conflict The sequel could succeed in their deadly mission, such is the universe The five friends need to get together again, very soon indeedThey require each other s company. Another world, another day, another dawn.The early morning s thinnest sliver of light appeared silently Several billion trillion tons of superhot exploding hydrogen nuclei rose slowly above the horizon and managed to look small, cold and slightly damp.There is a moment in every dawn when light floats, there is the possibility of magic Creation holds its breath. and then a voice from above utters the words You re a jerk, Dent Arthur Dent has every reason to be both puzzled and angry at the blue skinned alien called Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged who came over the aeons only to insult him In the previous two volume the hitchhiking Earthman served as a sort of lightning rod, attracting all sort of explosive troubles on his headHe was stranded on prehistoric earth as the result of a complex sequence of events that had involved his being alternately blown up and insulted in bizarre regions of the Galaxy than he had ever dreamed existed, and though life has now turned very, very, very quiet, he was still feeling jumpy.He hadn t been blown up now for five years Arthur Dent should actually rejoice at the respite he gets and at being back on his previously annihilated planet, but prehistoric times had very little to offer in the entertaining department His melancholic mood is lyrically captured by an author who is famous for his comedy chopsIn the end, it was the Sunday afternoons he couldn t cope with, and that terrible listlessness that starts to set in at about 2 55, when you know you ve taken all the baths you can usefully take that day, that however hard you stare at any given paragraph in the newspaper you will never actually read it, or use the revolutionary new pruning technique it describes, and that you stare at the clock the hands will move relentlessly on to four o clock, and you will enter the long dark teatime of the soulview spoiler the passage is referring to the troubles with immortality that Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged is experiencing, but for me it has an universal resonance with regard to my own empty and dark weekends with nothing to do hide spoiler I m getting very bored of this series While I like the characters and I understand the humour, I m not laughing I read these novels with a smile, not a smirk. Brilliantly brilliant discussing brilliant things lol the kind of book that you can t read wrong While the characters haven t changed too much it s about throwing them in the wildest scenarios and watching how their differing personalities interact, the questions they re asking are getting better.What makes this series stand out is the strength of the narrator The narrator is incredibly prominent and steals the show most of the time What makes this book so enjoyable are not the actions taken by the characters but the perception of their actions by the narrator.The random thoughts always tie back into the narrative and the adventures continue to grow and wilder Poor Arthur lolOh also flight Sorry for the lack of punctuation I just had a lot of thoughts and no structure. People may have noticed that I ve recently become very interested in theories of physics which involve multiple universes I ve spent a fair amount of time over the last few weeks reading about them and discussing the ideas.Since it s buried in one of my other reviews, let me present my conclusions explicitly To my surprise, I discover that there is a great deal of evidence to support the claim that we are only one of many universes, and, over, that we know what these other universes are The theory isn t particularly flaky or speculative Or, to be exact, there is an abundance of flaky and speculative theories, but there is also one which is rooted in mainstream science and already comes close to explaining Life, the Universe and Everything The idea is simple There is a way of looking at quantum mechanics the so called Many Worlds Interpretation which, roughly, means that everything which might have happened actually did happen in some alternate universe These alternate universes are as just real as ours Now, one s first reaction to this ought to be that it s nonsense, or at best no than playing with words It s easy to say that what might have been is real, but does that actually mean anything Well, it turns out there is a strong argument which supports the claim that many universes exist When you look at the different physical constants things like the strength of gravity, the strength of the electromagnetic force, the relative masses of the proton and the electron, and so on a weird pattern emerges There is no known reason why any of these constants should have the values they possess They appear to be arbitrary numbers But, if these numbers were even slightly different, life would be completely impossible The most straightforward way to explain this fact is to suppose that there are many universes, with many different settings for the constants we happen to live in one of the very few universes where the numbers came out right for life to happen This argument is presented in detail in Martin Rees s Before the Beginning.Next, let s look at the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics MWI Everyone who reads SF novels has heard of this, but I had always dismissed it as a fringe theory with little credibility I was surprised to learn from Brian Greene s The Hidden Reality that the MWI has steadily been gaining ground over the last 30 years, and is now considered completely respectable As Greene explains, everyone agrees on the mathematical theory behind quantum mechanics, the Schr dinger equation People know how to do the calculations, and these calculations work spectacularly well The disagreement is about what the equations actually mean Greene, and other people you can easily find on the Web, say that the MWI is in fact the simplest and most natural way to give intuitive significance to the mathematics of quantum physics the traditional Copenhagen interpretation due to Niels Bohr and his colleagues is close to mysticism when you try to pin it down, since it makes the human observer an integral part of physics Quantum physicists are sufficiently uneasy about the choices that the most popular approach is not to ascribe any meaning to the mathematics, but just perform the calculations without asking what they refer to This is evidently an unusual way to do science.To summarize, the most natural way to interpret our mainstream scientific theory is to say that there are many alternate universes The physical evidence also suggests that there are many alternate universes If the notion weren t so startling, one would just conclude that, since theory and experiment coincide, there must be many alternate universes There are plenty of loose ends to tie up, and you can question the logic in several places Robert has done a good job of presenting the case for the defense in the comment thread to my Greene review I still can t quite bring myself to believe it emotionally, but the I think about it, the sense it makes The other explanations are even far fetched as Sherlock Holmes says, once you ve eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be true Check it out for yourself and see if you agree.Looking around for material on the Many Worlds Interpretation, I found a paper by Max Tegmark where the following interesting passage appears Is there any experiment that could distinguish between the MWI and the Copenhagen interpretation using currently available technology The author can only think of one a form of quantum suicide in a spirit similar to so called quantum roulette It requires quite a dedicated experimentalist, since it is amounts to an iterated and faster version of Schr dinger s cat experiment with you as the cat.The apparatus is a quantum gun which each time its trigger is pulled measures the z spin of a particle It is connected to a machine gun that fires a single bullet if the result is down and merely makes an audible click if the result is up The details of the trigger mechanism are irrelevant an experiment with photons and a half silvered mirror would probably be cheaper to implement as long as the timescale between the quantum bit generation and the actual firing is much shorter than that characteristic of human perception, say 0.01 seconds The experimenter first places a sand bag in front of the gun and tells her assistant to pull the trigger ten times Everyone agrees that the shut up and calculate prescription applies here, and predict that she will hear a seemingly random sequence of shots and duds such as bang click bang bang bang click clickbang click click She now instructs her assistant to pull the trigger ten times and places her head in front of the gun barrel This time the shut up and calculate recipe is inapplicable, since probabilities have no meaning for an observer in the dead state, and the contenders will differ in their predictions In interpretations where there is an explicit non unitary collapse, she will be either dead or alive after the first trigger event, so she should expect to perceive perhaps a click or two if she is moderately lucky , then game over , nothing at all.In the MWI, on the other hand, the state after the first trigger event is Since there is exactly one observer having perceptions both before and after the trigger event, and since it occurred too fast to notice, the MWI prediction is that the experimenter will hear click with 100% certainty When her assistant has completed his unenviable assignment, she will have heard ten clicks, and concluded that collapse interpretations of quantum mechanics are ruled out at a confidence level of 99.9% If she wants to rule them out at ten sigma , she need merely increase n by continuing the experiment a while longer Occasionally, to verify that the apparatus is working, she can move her head away from the gun and suddenly hear it going off intermittently Note, however, that almost all terms in the final superposition will have her assistant perceiving that he has killed his boss Many physicists would undoubtedly rejoice if an omniscient genie appeared at their death bed, and as a reward for life long curiosity granted them the answer to a physics question of their choice But would they be as happy if the genie forbade them from telling anybody else Perhaps the greatest irony of quantum mechanics is that if the MWI is correct, then the situation is quite analogous if, once you feel ready to die, you repeatedly attempt quantum suicide you will experimentally convince yourself that the MWI is correct, but you can never convince anyone else But is Tegmark really correct in saying that the experimenter would not convince anyone else of the correctness of the MWI Imagine that you are the assistant in the universe where the experimenter succeeds in cheating death 100 times in a row, after having explained what she is about to do I, at least, would find this convincing I wouldn t be able to repeat the experiment only the person risking their life can do that , but it would still seem way too strange to ascribe to pure chance.It seems to me that the argument about lucky settings in the physical constants making life possible is related to Tegmark s thought experiment with the quantum gun We have all been the beneficiaries of, in effect, a long string of clicks, as opposed to bullets The question is whether this is good evidence of the existence of other quantum worlds I can see that opinions are divided So I was chatting with a CERN physicist today imagine other people peacefully knitting in the background , and I took the opportunity to ask him why the picture I describe above isn t the standard one Well, it is or less the standard one he said At least among cosmologists In that case I began, but he cut me short However, it s not the standard picture among theoretical particle physicists, he continued And for experimental particle physicists, it s a yet another picture But if they all know they have different pictures of what s happening, why don t they discuss it until they ve agreed which is right I asked helplessly.That CERN shrug again It s starting to look familiar. A series losing steam, and it s a real shame given the potential of the first two books both fun, quick reads This title is less focused on the sci fi and philosophical underpinnings of the first two books Instead, Adams here maintains sequences that hinge on bizarre chains of events and silly, ponderous exchanges between characters who have less and less of an idea as to what exactly is happening around them These felt a long 200 pages indeed.The bon mots and clever passages are fewer and further between than the previous two installments In fact, much of this book is rather uninspired and infuriating the Krikkit robots, the Bistromathematics, the reincarnations of the hapless multiple murder victim Agrajag none of the set pieces gave me than a brief chuckle Much of what aims to pass for characteristic Adams whimsy feels perfunctory, and the string of coincidences that form the crux of the plot are truly slapdash.The highlights for me here are Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged s perpetual misanthropy and what amounts to the only real meat of the book the story of the reason why the ultimate question and answer of the universe are putatively mutually exclusive Thus leading to So Long and Thanks for All the Fish But nothing here matches the humor of, for instance, the truly inspired chapter containing the Hitchhiker s Guide s entry on The Universe in Restaurant at the End of the Universe.When Adams is working with less inspired ideas, his inability to write characters as anything but vehicles for punchlines and guttural confusions is trying Vonnegut, while a weak painter of convincing personalities, instills a sense of humanity and pathos in the proceedings that eludes Adams Some sense of feeling and sympathy, perhaps, plays foil to the general absurdity of exposition and content in Vonnegut This is why he s a better read if you re comparing the two as I feel prone to do, and one of several reasons I m not too concerned with making it through last installments in this series.All of that being said, I have to say that the ending is pretty simpatico with me Maybe Adams should have left it all at that. I m feeling some series fatigue after binge reading this and the second book over the weekend I don t know if this was indeed a weaker confusing volume or was it just the fact that too much of a good thing can sometimes be bad Either way, I had some difficulty finishing it and I think I won t be reading the 4th and 5th book anytime soon It gets 3 stars 2,5 actually because despite it being really confusing and at time frustrating, it still had a lot of fun and hilarious moments. The Unhappy Inhabitants Of Planet Krikkit Are Sick Of Looking At The Night Sky Above Their Heads So They Plan To Destroy It The Universe, That Is Now Only Five Individuals Stand Between The Killer Robots Of Krikkit And Their Goal Of Total AnnihilationThey Are Arthur Dent, A Mild Mannered Space And Time Traveler Who Tries To Learn How To Fly By Throwing Himself At The Ground And Missing Ford Prefect, His Best Friend, Who Decides To Go Insane To See If He Likes It Slartibartfast, The Indomitable Vice President Of The Campaign For Real Time, Who Travels In A Ship Powered By Irrational Behavior Zaphod Beeblebrox, The Two Headed, Three Armed Ex President Of The Galazy And Trillian, The Sexy Space Cadet Who Is Torn Between A Persistent Thunder God And A Very Depressed BeeblebroxHow Will It All End Will It End Only This Stalwart Crew Knows As They Try To Avert Universal Armageddon And Save Life As We Know It And Don T Know It this is the last book in the series that I really enjoyed and I almost wish Douglas Adams would have called it quits here The book gives us the chance to laugh at ourselves in going back to prehistoric earth and Adams alternate view of how we ended up the creatures we are, that was extremely clever.But Krikkit was the best part, this story was amazing and I can t help but wonder if Adams religous views are at work here A group of people that just can t accept the idea that there might be another group of people besides them in the universe, and the only way they can deal with it is to kill anyone who is not them.But the time paradox starts to become a real problem at this point and utterly undoes the series from here out, and the fact that the cast of characters spends most of their time split apart and that is not as much fun Also, the characters flaws have become exagerrated by this time and the things that made them interesting characters but people you wouldn t want to know, has now made all of them a little annoying. As a continuation of Douglas Adams famous The Hitchiker s Guide Series this was, as indicated by the foreword, one of the most plotted in the series But as also indicated by the foreword, you don t read The Hitchiker s Guide Series for the plots So, you ask me, what do you read it for You read it for the sense of wonder about the crazy place the universe is You read it for the comedy of Douglas Adams, for his creative and zany use of made up people, places, wordsfor his use of language He is a wizard, transforming words into wit to power a laugh within the inner sanctum of your mind as a reader When you think you ve got him figured out, that s when you realise that actually you haven t.I read elsewhere when attempting to discover what I could about the literary idea of deus ex machina that while it is generally frowned upon as poor storytelling that Adams was able to use it brilliantly for humour Reading this third instalment of his series I saw again that yes, he was able to do exactly that And at the same time his use of deus ex machina also contributes ultimately to the plot which we as readers of Adams do not care for In many ways, perhaps unintentionally, Adams therefore shows that he can also use the literary device of Chekhov s gun Characters and plot ideas introduced earlier in the piece never really go away Some may be simple ideas thrown in their for an occasional laugh, but if you see Adams mention a fact or a character specifically, especially in a way that s out of the story s usual context then that character or fact will appear later Such as the idea in this story of flying and the re incarnated character which I thought was brilliant.I won t bother with a plot summary I doubt anyone can sum up the plot in any way that makes much sense I will say that if you ve read the previous books and enjoyed them then this is a similar continuation If you haven t read any of the previous books don t jump in now I recommend going back to where there s Vogon poetry and the destruction of the world with The Hitchhiker s Guide to the Galaxy.
Hitchhiker s Guide to the Galaxy series Hitchhiker s began on radio, and developed into a trilogy of five books which sold than fifteen million copies during his lifetime as well as a television series, a comic book series, a computer game, and a feature film that was completed after Adams death The series has also been adapted for live theatre using various scripts the earliest such productions used material newly written by Adams He was known to some fans as Bop Ad after his illegible signature , or by his initials DNA.In addition to The Hitchhiker s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams wrote or co wrote three stories of the science fiction television series Doctor Who and served as Script Editor during the seventeenth season His other written works include the Dirk Gently novels, and he co wrote two Liff books and Last Chance to See, itself based on a radio series Adams also originated the idea for the computer game Starship Titanic, which was produced by a company that Adams co founded, and adapted into a novel by Terry Jones A posthumous collection of essays and other material, including an incomplete novel, was published as
- 224 pages
- Life, the Universe and Everything
- Douglas Adams
- 20 May 2018 Douglas Adams