So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

The Fourth book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide Trilogy
By Douglas Adams
No. No games. He wanted her and didn’t care who knew it. He definitely and absolutely wanted her, longed for her, wanted to do more things than there were names for with her.

For the first time in many years, Arthur Dent finally stumbles across a bit of good luck.  After hitchhiking across vast stretches of the universe, he discovers Earth (which was apparently NOT destroyed by Vogons), finds his way back home (which was apparently NOT destroyed by contractors), and meets a girl.  I feel like this is the point where I would normally be saying “But then something terrible happened . . .”.  But nothing terrible happens.

Although So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish is billed as the fourth book in the Hitchhiker’s trilogy, it varies from the first three books in so many ways that it could easily stand on its own.  For one thing, Arthur isn’t constantly being shot at, blown up, yelled at, or cursed.  It also takes place almost completely on Earth and, beside the appearance of Ford in the final chapters, focuses completely on Arthur and a couple of new minor characters (all human).  Oh.  And it’s a romance.  At first glance, it seems like this story wouldn’t work as a part of the Hitchhiker’s trilogy, but Adams expertly weaves in humorous side plots, extraterrestrial elements, and universal anomalies into Arthur’s typically awkward love story.  That Adams was able to maintain his quirky style and bumbling hero in such a different type of story is a testament to his genius as a writer.

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish is a sweet, thoughtful, and humorous examination of something we all crave: another human who understands us.  While so many romance novels paint love as a too-good-to-be-true, mushy gushy destiny, Adams tells it like it is.  Love is a very happy coincidence that comes along when you least expect it.  Toss a couple super-intelligent beings into the mix, then add parallel universes, messages from God, and alien planets, and you’ve got yet another adventure through the universe that you won’t want to put down.


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