SF Masterwork of the Week: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Most writers would struggle to follow the huge success of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. But most writers aren’t Douglas Adams.

There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

There is another theory which states that this has already happened.

The snippet above is pretty much classic Adams – a witty, clever snippet of wordplay that, after a moment’s reflection, reveals a fundamental insight into the nature of the universe. He doesn’t necessarily attempt to explain anything but just to point out what, after a moment’s thought, suddenly seems strikingly obvious. Yes, we think, now that you mention it, that is quite odd, isn’t it?

And there’s no better tour guide through a bewildering universe than Douglas Adams – after all, who else would begin a book like this:

The story so far:
In the beginning the Universe was created.
This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.

So if your planet has been destroyed to make way for a new hyperspace bypass, your best friend turns out to be from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse (and not Guilford, as you’d thought), and you find yourself in the company of a two-headed man who also happens to be the president of the galaxy, and a beautiful girl you utterly failed to connect with at a party in a city that no longer exists . . . you probably shouldn’t be surprised to find yourself having breakfast at Milliways, the Restaurant at the end of the Universe . . .


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Restaurant at the end of the Universe are both available as SF Masterworks hardbacks, and you can read about Douglas Adams in his author entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.