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Mostly Harmless [Read] ➮ Mostly Harmless Author Douglas Adams – It’s easy to get disheartened when your planet has been blown up, the woman you love has vanished in a misunderstanding about spacetime, the spaceship you are on crashes on a remote and Bobfearing p It’s easy to get disheartened when your planet has been blown up, the woman you love has vanished in a misunderstanding about spacetime, the spaceship you are on crashes on a remote and Bobfearing planet, and all you have to fall back on is a few simple sandwichmaking skills However, instead of being disheartened, Arthur Dent makes the terrible mistake of starting to enjoy life a bit and, immediately, all hell breaks looseHell takes a number of forms: there’s the usual Ford Prefect form of hell, fresh hell in the form of an allnew version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and a totally unexpected hell in the form of a teenage girl who startles Arthur Dent by being his daughter when he didn’t even know he had oneCan Arthur save the Earth from total multidimensional obliteration? Can he save the Guide from a hostile alien takeover? Can he save his daughter, Random, from herself? Of course not He never works out what is going on, exactly Will you?.

10 thoughts on “Mostly Harmless

  1. Chrissy Chrissy says:

    (mild spoilers ahead)

    It's terribly amusing that the majority of reviewers have tossed this fifth part to the trilogy aside, banished it from their mental schemata of the series so as to acknowledge only that which ends well. I think it says a lot about the readership that they took in the entirety of the first four books without picking up on the melancholy and nihilistic subtext to Adams' writing. I mean, the first book ends with the discovery that the meaning of life is 42.... how much clearer does it need to be in order convey the ultimately meaningless adventure that Adams saw life in this universe to be? More importantly, at what point did that fact ever stop him from telling a spectacular story?

    It is the journey, more than the end, that defines us and the worlds we live in. I think Arthur's encounter with the man on the pole in Hawalius can be taken as a pre-emptive response to those who would invariably decry the novel to be too bleak: humans seek to be protected from knowing the things we don't want to know about, and it leads us to miss a great deal of understanding, experience, and acceptance, sometimes with dire psychological consequences. A reader may not want to know how the story of Arthur and his companions ultimately ends, or how any story that goes on long enough must end, but it's a blind and willful ignorance that serves no purpose but to save us seeing reality, in all its complicated and multidimensional depth of cause and effect and pure probability.

    Personally, I found this book to be a brilliant and thought-provoking conclusion to a sharp, touching, and gloriously honest series. The ending of the novel, with Arthur at peace and Ford laughing wildly, is the most honest part yet. I pity any reader who doesn't get that.

  2. Henry Avila Henry Avila says:

    The Milky Way Galaxy is in a state of confusion the dozen Universes, ( you didn't know there are more than one?) have collided into each other. Nothing is as it was, no wonder historians quit, what's the point, everything keeps on changing since history is so fluid. Tricia McMillan (Trillian , in another existence) is not happy, the British television anchor is back in England after an unsuccessful job interview, in New York City at ten times more money ! Dead tired from the overnight flight, she can barely walk to her house but the odd gardener, Eric Bartlett points out strange marks on Tricia's lawn, space aliens undoubtedly and being polite, pretends to care and listen . This interesting conversation must end soon or she'll keel over, at last the bed. Next day, Tricia can figure out what to do with the rest of her life, then the aliens land in the back yard....Three thin, green figures come down from their small craft, Grebulons on a reconnaissance mission, would she like to visit them on Rupert (Persephone) ? Let me think ... the elusive Planet X, in the solar system which astronomers have sought for many years, the tenth planet counted in this world, mighty little Pluto... restored to its proper place in the cosmos . Before departing the unexpected guests deny kidnapping Elvis, they like him ... The greatest story of all time, slowly falls apart like everything else, these creatures can't remember who they are, what they're supposed to do , where the invaders came from not even their own names, eons have gone by during this epic voyage since the ship developed computer problems. On the frozen bizarre planet, Rupert, ( the distant Sun, is just another remote, cold, weak light, in the dark sky) with structures in a cave, which look like a set from a cheap science -fiction film. The Grebulons, ( a name unknown, to these space travelers) like watching television persistently from Earth, copying all. Tricia's camera, shall produce fuzzy pictures back home, she will be laughed at if the video is seen by anyone...Ford Prefect, also has no luck, the Guide is under a different management the new editor wants Mr.Prefect to write a restaurant column, how degrading. He quickly jumps out a window of the Guide's building, on one of the top floors, having noticed the bosses, are evil Vogons. He'll think of something going down to save his hide, Ford sincerely hopes. Passing the 17th level his life too goes by, in his jumbled mind, a happy robot this time prevents the descending man from a bad, very sudden stop ....Meanwhile Mr. Arthur Dent's spaceliner, crashes on a primitive planet Lamuela, yet he's still alive. The only survivor takes up a new profession, would you believe, Sandwich Maker... Adored by the natives, a gift from the gods, such skill with his hands , nobody here could think of putting meat from Perfectly Normal Beasts, (don't ask) and whatever else, between two pieces of bread ... Arthur is finally content, a job that he is good at ... But this universe cannot let people be content, Trillian/Tricia arrives, hands him his unknown daughter Random she says, and hastily leaves, a product of his. Thus Arthur's need for monetary funds, depositing much in institutions around the galaxy, and paid quite well... for his good seed. Random hates Mr.Dent of course, the same emotion prevails towards her mother, and is not that crazy either with all the other universes, a typical teenage daughter. Mr. Arthur Dent, will now fully experience the essence of what being a father entails, may God have mercy on his soul...A lesser Hitchhiker's Guide book...however who can resist..not I.

  3. Jon Jon says:

    Mostly Harmless was, for many people, a disappointing end to a fantastic series. Adams admitted that he was having a bad year when he wrote this book, and it shows: the usual humor and manic pacing are largely gone, replaced by long tracts about actual theoretical science (as opposed to the lunatic-inspired science that created, say, the starship Bistromath), and the tone overall is far darker and more depressive. There are still glimpses of Adams' comedic genius, but the book as a whole is a definite cog or two down the scale from the first four. While Mostly Harmless does provide a firm and definite conclusion to the Hitchhiker's Trilogy, it can, in many ways, be left off the reading list for anyone who is not a die-hard Adams fan; the average reader will get enough conclusion from So Long..., if not from Life....

  4. Bradley Bradley says:

    Out of all the Hitchhiker's Gude to the Galaxy books, I think I must digress and say that 'Mostly Harmless' does not, in fact, refer to the Earth, but to itself.

    The book is mostly harmless except when it isn't.

    In fact, it isn't mostly harmless at all.

    There are many humorous passages and lots of quirky zingers and a sensation of the penultimate plotless surreality of life, the universe, and everything, but like LIFE, itself, it just feels like an accumulation of STUFF THAT HAPPENS.

    Trying to find out the great question to the answer to the universe has mostly derailed in service to living a bit of life and trying to get a little enjoyment out of it before we die... which sounds, suspiciously, like what we all do.


    But then, seeing where an alternate universe Trillian winds up and watching Ford confront the corporate mega-annoyance of the publishing industry around The Guide does have it's bright points... but let's face it... Arthur's daughter is a REAL PAIN IN THE RANDOM.

    Seriously, the whole book goes just south of a Vogon Poetry Reading after that point. It's almost like we're reading a tragedy but we don't really want to admit to it. We'll order room service and buy New Zealand but that's just a funny bit to cover up for the fact that LIFE HAS IT IN FOR US.

    If this book wasn't so accurate in its hilarity, I might want to take a boot to its posterior.

    Mostly Harmless my ***.

  5. Joe Joe says:

    The Encyclopedia Galactica, that venerable compendium, has a lot to say about the works of Douglas Adams. In particular, the first four books of his 'Hitchhiker's' series have over 7 million words dedicated to them. This includes synopses, critical analyses, research projects, philosophical treatises, and Babel-fish fan-fiction.

    But the fifth book in the series has not enjoyed this level of attention. Until recently, the Galactica article regarding this novel comprised a single word; 'pointless.'

    A sub-set of literature fans didn't appreciate this and launched an extensive campaign to rectify the situation. They argued that Mostly Harmless wasn't a lazy cash-grab or evidence that Adams simply wanted to put the series to bed... or at least that it was more than just those things.

    So while most agreed that Mostly Harmless paled when compared to its predecessors, they still felt that it had several funny bits and featured a distinctly sad perspective. They wrote impassioned essays about the book's themes; waxing eloquent about the search for purpose and the inevitability of fate. One particularly poignant contribution discussed how much of the novel felt like the beginning of a brand new adventure, a brand new series, which made the sudden finality of the ending feel especially soul-crushing.

    And after many years of protest and tasteless #harmlesslivesmatter jokes they finally convinced the Galactica editors to expand the article. From thence on, the book on Mostly Harmless reads 'Mostly pointless.'

    Edited 2/14/2020

  6. Evan Leach Evan Leach says:

    The fifth and final installment in the Hitchhiker “trilogy” is generally regarded as the weakest in the series (it’s the lowest rated on this site, for example). The story is focused on Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect. Poor Arthur, who finally found happiness at the end of book four, has the love of his life whisked away from him senselessly and is back to wandering the galaxy alone. He finally settles down to a life that many would find mind-numbingly dull but that suits Arthur just fine. Just as he begins to grow accustomed to his new role in the universe, Trillian and then Ford show up to pull Arthur back into their chaotic adventures. Ford has discovered a plot that puts not just the Guide, but the universe itself at risk and, once again, a reluctant Arthur is pulled along for the ride.

    The book has two problems. The first is that it simply isn’t as laugh-out-loud funny as the first three Hitchhiker books. Series staples like Zaphod Beeblebrox and Marvin the Paranoid Android are nowhere to be found, and Trillian plays a relatively minor (if complicated) role. I think that part of what makes the first two books so hysterical is the interplay between all of these larger than life characters (including Ford) and the bewildered Arthur. Like a sitcom with a great cast, it’s at it’s best when all the key players are together. The comedy slips a bit in book three when the characters begin to drift apart, and by the fourth entry some of the regulars are beginning to disappear entirely. But in book four, Adams shifts the story from intergalactic mayhem to a (relatively) conventional love story. Unexpectedly sweet, the fourth book is able to alleviate the pain of losing the Zaphods of the galaxy by telling a different kind of tale.

    But very little is sweet about this book, which brings us to problem number two. Mostly Harmless is kind of a downer. Adams was apparently going through some personal problems when he wrote this, and described it as “a rather bleak book.” He expressed interest in writing a sixth novel to finish the series on a more upbeat note, but died before he had the opportunity. We are left with a somewhat sad ending to a great series, particularly (view spoiler)[ the grim, fatalistic conclusion (hide spoiler)]

  7. Nathan Mathews Nathan Mathews says:

    Blechh! Worst. Ending. Ever! I've heard that Douglas Adams wrote this book during a bad time in his life (hey, we all have 'em), but this book more or less stinks. I have chosen to forget that this book was ever written, and that the series ended on a definite high note with So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish. Those of you who have not had your minds poisoned with this bit of tripe would do well to skip it altogether.

  8. sj sj says:

    Randal: Which did you like better? Jedi or The Empire Strikes Back?

    Dante: Empire.

    Randal: Blasphemy!

    Dante: Empire had the better ending. I mean, Luke gets his hand cut off, finds out Vader's his father, Han gets frozen and taken away by Boba Fett. It ends on such a down note. I mean, that's what life is, a series of down endings. All Jedi had was a bunch of Muppets.

  9. Cecily Cecily says:

    Hitchhiker's, volume 5.

    There are some good lines in this, but I can't help feeling it would have been better if Adams had left it unwritten, or at least unpublished. It is very disjointed, with Ford, Arthur and Trillian mostly in separate stories.

    It starts in what would be a parallel universe - if such things existed, which they don't, because it makes as much sense as the sea being parallel.

    If there was one thing life had taught her it was that there are times when you do not go back for your bag and other times when you do. It had yet to teach her to distinguish between the two types of occasion.

    The messages that one part of her brain was busy sending to another were not necessarily arriving on time or the right way up.

    For something she hadn't expected... it wasn't going the way she expected.

    Maximegalon Institute of Slowly and Pointlessly Working out the Surprisingly Obvious.

    The future is just the same old stuff in faster cars and smellier air.

    It occupied the same co-ordinates in space time [as Earth:]. What co-ordinates it occupied in probability was anyone's guess.

    The sun was quite bright but the day was hazy and vague.

    A common mistake... when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

    Her mood swings were very unpredictable but so far they'd all been between different types of bad ones... She had been sent as a test of his faith, if not his patience.

    AmEx gave cards exclusively to just about anybody.

    about three other customers... it was not the kind of place that you felt like being that specific in.

    The possible continually interfered with the probable.

    Brief summary and favourite quotes from the other four of the five books, as follows:

    Hitchhiker's Guide (vol 1):

    Restaurant at the End of Universe (vol 2):

    Life, the Universe and Everything (vol 3):

    So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish (vol 4):

    And Another Thing...(vol 6), by Eoin Colfer :

  10. Ivonne Rovira Ivonne Rovira says:

    Sadly, the five-part Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy “trilogy” ends not with a bang, but a whimper. With four storylines — displaced earthman Arthur Dent, reckless Hitchhiker’s Guide correspondent Ford Prefect; Trillian, the earth woman once named Tricia McMillan who dumped Arthur at a party to go into space with Zaphod Beeblebrox, and Tricia McMillan in a parallel universe where she stayed on earth — Mostly Harmless reads like a frenzied ride on the bumper cars, with storylines beginning and starting almost at random.

    In addition, Arthur Dent returns to his whiny and mostly dazed persona that made him insufferable in Life, the Universe and Everything, and while all four storylines eventually converge, the denouement simply isn’t that satisfying. Take my advice: Stop after the fourth book, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, and end on a high note.

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