So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (Hitchhiker's Guide Series #4)

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (Hitchhiker's Guide Series #4)

by Douglas Adams

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Overview

“A madcap adventure . . . Adams’s writing teeters on the fringe of inspired lunacy.”—United Press International

Back on Earth with nothing more to show for his long, strange trip through time and space than a ratty towel and a plastic shopping bag, Arthur Dent is ready to believe that the past eight years were all just a figment of his stressed-out imagination. But a gift-wrapped fishbowl with a cryptic inscription, the mysterious disappearance of Earth’s dolphins, and the discovery of his battered copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy all conspire to give Arthur the sneaking suspicion that something otherworldly is indeed going on.

God only knows what it all means. Fortunately, He left behind a Final Message of explanation. But since it’s light-years away from Earth, on a star surrounded by souvenir booths, finding out what it is will mean hitching a ride to the far reaches of space aboard a UFO with a giant robot. But what else is new?

“The most ridiculously exaggerated situation comedy known to created beings . . . Adams is irresistible.”—The Boston Globe

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345391834
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/29/1999
Series: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Series , #4
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 72,063
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.61(d)
Lexile: 990L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Douglas Adams was born in Cambridge in March 1952 and was educated at Brentwood School, Essex, before attending St. John’s College, Cambridge, where he received a B.A. and later an M.A. in English literature. A writer for radio, television, and theater, he was the creator of all the various manifestations of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy, which started as a radio show and then became a series of novels, a TV show, an album, a computer game, and several stage adaptations. Adams died on May 11, 2001.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
 
That evening it was dark early, which was normal for the time of year. It was cold and windy, which was normal.
 
It started to rain, which was particularly normal.
 
A spacecraft landed, which was not.
 
There was nobody around to see it except for some spectacularly stupid quadrupeds who hadn’t the faintest idea what to make of it, or whether they were meant to make anything of it, or eat it, or what. So they did what they did to everything, which was to run away from it and try to hide under each other, which never worked.
 
It slipped down out of the clouds, seeming to be balanced on a single beam of light.
 
From a distance you would scarcely have noticed it through the lightning and the storm clouds, but seen from close up it was strangely beautiful—a gray craft of elegantly sculpted form; quite small.
 
Of course, one never has the slightest notion what size or shape different species are going to turn out to be, but if you were to take the findings of the latest Mid-Galactic Census report as any kind of accurate guide to statistical averages you would probably guess that the craft would hold about six people, and you would be right.
 
You’d probably guessed that anyway. The Census report, like most such surveys, had cost an awful lot of money and told nobody anything they didn’t already know—except that every single person in the Galaxy had 2.4 legs and owned a hyena. Since this was clearly not true the whole thing eventually had to be scrapped.
 
The craft slid quietly down through the rain, its dim operating lights seeming to wrap it in tasteful rainbows. It hummed very quietly, a hum that became gradually louder and deeper as it approached the ground and which at an altitude of six inches became a heavy throb.
 
At last it dropped and was quiet.
 
A hatchway opened. A short flight of steps unfolded itself.
 
A light appeared in the opening, a bright light streaming out into the wet night, and shadows moved within.
 
A tall figure appeared in the light, looked around, flinched, and hurried down the steps, carrying a large shopping bag under his arm.
 
He turned and gave a single abrupt wave back to the ship. Already the rain was streaming through his hair.
 
“Thank you,” he called out, “thank you very—”
 
He was interrupted by a sharp crack of thunder. He glanced up apprehensively, and in response to a sudden thought started quickly to rummage through the large plastic shopping bag, which he now discovered had a hole in the bottom.
 
It had large characters printed on the side which read (to anyone who could decipher the Centaurian alphabet) DUTY FREE MEGA-MARKET, PORT BRASTA, ALPHA CENTAURI. BE LIKE THE TWENTY-SECOND ELEPHANT WITH HEATED VALUE IN SPACE—BARK!
 
“Hold on!” the figure called, waving at the ship.
 
The steps, which had started to fold themselves back through the hatchway, stopped, re-unfolded, and allowed him back in.
 
He emerged again a few seconds later carrying a battered and threadbare towel which he shoved into the bag.
 
He waved again, hoisted the bag under his arm, and started to run for the shelter of some trees as, behind him, the spacecraft had already begun its ascent.
 
Lightning flitted through the sky and made the figure pause for a moment, and then hurry onward, revising his path to give the trees a wide berth. He moved swiftly across the ground, slipping here and there, hunching himself against the rain which was falling now with ever-increasing concentration, as if being pulled from the sky.
 
His feet sloshed through the mud. Thunder grumbled over the hills. He pointlessly wiped the rain off his face and stumbled on.
 
More lights.
 
Not lightning this time, but more diffused and dimmer lights which played slowly over the horizon and faded.
 
The figure paused again on seeing them, and then redoubled his steps, making directly toward the point on the horizon at which they had appeared.
 
And now the ground was becoming steeper, sloping upward, and after another two or three hundred yards it led at last to an obstacle. The figure paused to examine the barrier and then dropped the bag over it before climbing over it himself.
 
Hardly had the figure touched the ground on the other side than there came a machine sweeping out of the rain toward him with lights streaming through the wall of water. The figure pressed back as the machine streaked toward him. It was a low, bulbous shape, like a small whale surfing—sleek, gray, and rounded and moving at terrifying speed.
 
The figure instinctively threw up his hands to protect himself, but was hit only by a sluice of water as the machine swept past and off into the night.
 
It was illuminated briefly by another flicker of lightning crossing the sky, which allowed the soaked figure by the roadside a split second to read a small sign at the back of the machine before it disappeared.
 
To the figure’s apparent incredulous astonishment the sign read “My other car is also a Porsche.”
 
 
Chapter 2
 
Rob McKenna was a miserable bastard and he knew it because he’d had a lot of people point it out to him over the years and he saw no reason to disagree with them except the obvious one which was that he liked disagreeing with people, particularly people he disliked, which included, at the last count, everybody.
 
He heaved a sigh and shoved down a gear.
 
The hill was beginning to steepen and his lorry was heavy with Danish thermostatic radiator controls.
 
It wasn’t that he was naturally predisposed to be so surly, at least he hoped not. It was just the rain that got him down, always the rain.
 
It was raining now, just for a change.
 
It was a particular type of rain that he particularly disliked, particularly when he was driving. He had a number for it. It was rain type 17.
 
He had read somewhere that the Eskimos had over two hundred different words for snow, without which their conversation would probably have got very monotonous. So they would distinguish between thin snow and thick snow, light snow and heavy snow, sludgy snow, brittle snow, snow that came in flurries, snow that came in drifts, snow that came in on the bottom of your neighbor’s boots all over your nice clean igloo floor, the snows of winter, the snows of spring, the snows you remember from your childhood that were so much better than any of your modern snow, fine snow, feathery snow, hill snow, valley snow, snow that falls in the morning, snow that falls at night, snow that falls all of a sudden just when you were going out fishing, and snow that despite all your efforts to train them, the huskies have pissed on.
 
Rob McKenna had two hundred and thirty-one different types of rain entered in his little book, and he didn’t like any of them.
 
He shifted down another gear and the lorry heaved its revs up. It grumbled in a comfortable sort of way about all the Danish thermostatic radiator controls it was carrying.
 
Since he had left Denmark the previous afternoon, he had been through types 33 (light pricking drizzle which made the roads slippery), 39 (heavy spotting), 47 to 51 (vertical light drizzle through to sharply slanting light to moderate drizzle freshening), 87 and 88 (two finely distinguished varieties of vertical torrential downpour), 100 (postdownpour squalling, cold), all the sea-storm types between 192 and 213 at once, 123, 124, 126, 127 (mild and intermediate cold gusting, regular and syncopated cab-drumming), 11 (breezy droplets), and now his least favorite of all, 17.
 
Rain type 17 was a dirty blatter battering against his windshield so hard that it didn’t make much odds whether he had his wipers on or off.
 
He tested this theory by turning them off briefly, but as it turned out the visibility did get quite a lot worse. It just failed to get better again when he turned them back on.
 
In fact one of the wiper blades began to flap off.
 
Swish swish swish flop swish swish flop swish swish flop swish flop swish flop flop flap scrape.
 
He pounded his steering wheel, kicked the floor, thumped his cassette player until it suddenly started playing Barry Manilow, thumped it until it stopped again, and swore and swore and swore and swore and swore.
 
It was at the very moment that his fury was peaking that there loomed swimmingly in his headlights, hardly visible through the blatter, a figure by the roadside.
 
A poor bedraggled figure, strangely attired, wetter than an otter in a washing machine, and hitching.
 
“Poor miserable sod,” thought Rob McKenna to himself, realizing that here was somebody with a better right to feel hard done by than himself, “must be chilled to the bone. Stupid to be out hitching on a filthy night like this. All you get is cold, wet, and lorries driving through puddles at you.”
 
He shook his head grimly, heaved another sigh, gave the wheel a turn, and hit a large sheet of water square on.
 
“See what I mean?” he thought to himself as he plowed swiftly through it; “you get some right bastards on the road.”
 
Splattered in his rearview mirror a couple of seconds later was the reflection of the hitchhiker, drenched by the roadside.
 
For a moment he felt good about this. A moment or two later he felt bad about feeling good about it. Then he felt good about feeling bad about feeling good about it and, satisfied, drove on into the night.
 
At least it made up for finally having been overtaken by that Porsche he had been diligently blocking for the last twenty miles.
 
And as he drove on, the rain clouds dragged down the sky after him for, though he did not know it, Rob McKenna was a Rain God. All he knew was that his working days were miserable and he had a succession of lousy holidays. All the clouds knew was that they loved him and wanted to be near him, to cherish him and to water him.
 

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish"
by .
Copyright © 1999 Douglas Adams.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

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So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 123 reviews.
1000_Character_Reviews More than 1 year ago
Well...on to the forth (and almost last) of the original set of Hitchhiker's Guide books. We find Arthur Dent back on Earth, which has not been destroyed (I won't spoil the how on this – especially as I’m not completely clear on how Ford pulled it off) looking to help a girl he's fallen in love with, figure out why he's been given a fishbowl with a strange inscription, figuring out where all the dolphins went, trying to find his battered copy of the Hitchhiker's Guide and finally finding the message that God left for all of creation (which falls along the lines of 42 as the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything). The mystery-like storyline combined with the series’ characteristic sarcasm definitely makes it very hard to put down. I’d say it’s the funniest of the books thus far with the healthy dose of irreverent humor we've come to expect from this series.
jegan22280 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I considered this Much weaker that the previous offerings. I wasn't prepared for a love story when starting this book. It was, howeve, good enough to grab and hold may attention. So much so that while reading it in an airport, I was so engrossed that I missed my flight.
Nanoscale2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The fourth book in the Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy trilogy? Kind of an odd thing to have a fourth in a trilogy but it is worth while but please please read the other three books first...Or you will be very confused.DaScienceGuy.WordPress.com
lizzy-x on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is my least favorite Hitchhiker's Guide book. Then again, I can't stand romance, and while the other four allowed me to remain blissfully unaware of it, this one thrust it in my face.
beckykolacki on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Out of the "trilogy of five," this one was actually my favorite. I understand that for many people it's the least popular, because almost the whole thing takes place on earth and it focuses mainly just on Arthur Dent and not the other characters. However, that's why I liked it. After the somewhat overwhelming third book, it was a relief to have a novel that didn't keep jumping around between characters and plot, and just focus on one thing at a time.Plus, this story had a much more human element to it that the others did not. In the others, we never got to know the characters and they never exhibited any emotions in any depth that we could relate to. And I suppose that was okay, because it wasn't really about emotions, it was just about the humor and the science fiction aspect. But it was kind of nice to see a different side of Arthur Dent in this one. He actually finds a romantic interest in the fascinating character of Fenchurch. Yes, there was less action, but that was okay for me.Also, we occasionally got some glimpses of what Ford was up to, but he didn't really become pertinent to the plot until the very end. It seemed like the book ended on a really exciting note, with the newly formed emotional bond between Arthur and Fenchurch intersecting with the exciting space travel that had been involved in the other books. From here, the fifth book seemed like it could be quite promising.
jayne_charles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A change of gear from the previous books, which left me blinking in the sunlight: Arthur Dent returns to Earth (more or less) and starts chatting up women.There is a slightly self-conscious chapter close to the end where the author actually suggests some readers skip a few chapters. I was almost tempted to comply, though glad I didn't as the aircraft incident that followed was quite good.On the whole, though, not really up to the same standards as the first two books of the series.
FolkeB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
So Long and Thanks for All the Fish is the fourth volume of The Hitchhiker¿s Guide to the Galaxy Series by Douglas Adams. Arthur Dent wanted to have some time to relax and stop traveling around the galaxy, so he leaves his companions to find a place to go. He ends up on Earth, but Arthur doesn't understand how this could be because he saw the Earth being destroyed by the Vogons with his own eyes years ago. On his first night back on ¿Earth¿, Arthur falls in love with a girl at first glance. He gets separated from her and goes back to living his life like he did before the Earth was destroyed, and everything appears to be the same. A mysterious thing, though, is that both Arthur and this girl, Fenchurch, question this ¿Earth¿ and are both trying to find out the answer to God¿s final message to his creation. Douglas Adams brings us back to the idea of this huge universe filled with interesting and wild ideas once again. He introduces intriguing ideas and clues in the story that make the reader excited to read further. Adams introduces us to new characters and that help keep the story interesting and moving. I would recommend this book for anyone who has read any of the previous books in the series and enjoys wild and sometimes random, but quirky, details that add to the story. I would give this book four out of five stars. Molly
susiesharp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As I've said before these are hard to review.This one I must say though wasn't one of the best of the series.But I still enjoyed it it just isn't the best of the bunch.On to Mostly Harmless
mrsdwilliams on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fourth book in the Hitchhiker "trilogy."Arthur Dent returns to Earth. The fact that Earth has already been destroyed by Vogons is not particularly important. Why and how Arthur returns remains a mystery, but he is relieved to find that Earth still exists and that only a few months have passed since he first caught a ride with a passing spaceship. The novel's main focus is Arthur's relationship with Fenchurch, a woman who he falls for at first sight. Their journey of eventually leads them to discover God's final message to Creation. Not as much action as in the first three books, but the focus on the development of Arthur's character make this a worthy addition to the series.
rincewind1986 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ok so it isnt as good as the others, but it is still one of my favourites its funny witty and the story is so bizarre even thinking of it is making me smile.
Othemts on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite of the five books in the Hitchhiker trilogy. There's just something touching about Arthur and Fenchurch's flying date.
nm.spring08.s.peery on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a most interesting book, I would have to say. I loved how Adams was able to make such random things connect in the ways that they did. The apparent plot of finding out why the Earth was back to the way it was (but 8 years later) was profoundly funny. I loved how Adams didn't skip on using words normally considered inapropriate, and his odd use of describing what happened between Arthur and the girl up in the clouds.
heidilove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
it all comes together in the end and he even gets the girl.
sweetiegherkin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the fourth book of the Hitchhiker¿s Guide to the Galaxy series, Arthur Dent returns to Earth eight years after it has been utterly annihilated. On top of that, it appears that only a few months have gone by since its destruction. Arthur tries to figure out this mystery and along the way falls in love with a quirky girl named Fenchurch. There is far less action in this book than the previous three, plus very little to do with space travel is involved. Ford and Marvin have only minor roles (and Zaphod and Trillian never appear), and the partial or complete absence of these favorite characters is only somewhat made up for by the delightful addition of Fenchurch. The book is still full of Adams¿s wit and humor but falls flat when compared to the previous three.
Darla on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Morning read with the boys. Arthur's back on the reconstituted Earth, and finds a girlfriend. Still hilarious, but I missed the other characters and the traveling around in space.
ariebonn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It has been a while since I read the third book in this series but finally managed to get to the fourth. Since the last book was a little disappointing I was somewhat reluctant to continue reading it, but at the same time I really wanted to know what happens next.In the fourth book of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, a new angle is introduced. We are back on Earth, yes the same one that has been demolished by the Vogons in the first book, where seven years later everything is back to normal except everyone one thinks that they suffered from a mass delusion that Earth was destroyed. The other thing that nobody seems to be able to explain is that all the dolphins have gone missing. This time the story revolves mostly on Arthur, which manages to find the love of his life, Fenchurch, and their relationship develops into something that he has never experienced before. Together, Arthur and Fenchurch embark on a mission to find God's last message to his creation.The first thing I noticed about this book is that it's completely different. Unlike the first three books, there is not much traveling in space going on and the focus is mainly on Arthur, which might be referred to as the most boring in the cast of characters. Overall the story is not bad, but nothing very exciting happens either and to be honest I was expecting more action. As usual there are some funny parts to it, this is after all what Adams is famous for, but again nothing like the first two books. This book might have been slightly better than the previous one in that it is generally less silly, and it does have a good ending when God's last message to his creation is revealed. That was quite hilarious and probably the best part of the book!I am now looking forward to reading the last book in this trilogy of five (I always loved this phrase) to see how it all ends. I am really hoping though that Adams put something good together in the same way that the first two books were good!
Figgles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The fourth book in the Hitch-hiker trilogy. It's a very long time since I first read it and I'd really suggest you should read the other three first. A more lyrical and less "laugh out loud funny" book, winding up the story and giving Arthur Dent a shot at love. The flying is lovely.
pauliharman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Tolerable read from author trying to kill off a series
manatree on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Old favorite from high school. Had to pick up this used hard cover copy to supplement tattered paperbacks.
Crowyhead on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was never really my favorite of the series, but I think it's about due for a re-read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I felt that this book was the weakest in the hitch hiker series. there was hardly any planet hopping and the antics were not nearly as interesting without ford. Its still a great book though.
LeoM More than 1 year ago
As this series' ending begins, the events which occur in this book become even more wacky and crazed than the those previous to it. If this series has been entertaining so far, this book follows in suit as it twists the mind and bends all processes of thought to a new level with its unpredictable story line. It all begins with the illusion of a dream... Arthur is led to believe all the events of the past eight years have been a figment of his imagination, and that he has gone crazy (which, following his behavioral patterns, could be a possibility), but with the weird events going on, such as the Earth's dolphins disappearing, he begins to seek the truth, with the hunch that the Vogons were much more than a hallucination. Previous to this hunch, he falls in love with a girl named Fenchurch he met while hitchhiking, and she too believes the Vogons were real (but she was diagnosed with mental instablility). Arthur chases this girl around and eventually begins a romantic relationship, and together (after they have met up with Ford Prefect) they seek the truth behind the destruction and reappearance of the Earth. Without giving away any spoilers, this book is an exciting adventure, (surprisingly) with a love story included, and a tragedy involving a beloved character. I would definitely recommend this book to a friend, and hope this series is enjoyed by others just as much as it has been enjoyed by me.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago