SO LONG, AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH
In the disjointed, amiable, but not particularly funny opening to this fourth in the comic Hitchhiker's series, we catch up with the doings of the main characters: Ford Prefect, stuck light-years from civilization, puzzled that the new edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy now features all the tourist information about Earth that he collected; and Arthur Dent, uneasily arriving on an Earth that he thought had been destroyed by the Vogons to make way for an interstellar bypass. (Arthur has one clue, a gorgeous glass bowl mysteriously inscribed "so long and thanks for all the fish.") However, things get much funnier as they trundle along, with riotous goings-on in the last few chapters. Among the highlights: Arthur discovers that the dolphins, having escaped the destruction of the Earth, have gratefully provided humanity with a new Earth ("brought to you by the Campaign to Save the Humans"); and, best of all, Arthur and girlfriend Fenchurch go to inspect God's Last Message to His Creation, written in 30-foot-high letters of fire on the slopes of the Quentulus Quazgar Mountains. ("We apologize for the inconvenience.") Despite the slow start, there's less silliness and more comic substance than usual here--making this, overall, the best entry since the original Hitchhiker's.