So long and thanks for all the washing-up
As with the other books in Douglas Adams’s trilogy of five, the ‘plot’ of this third novel is above all an opportunity for the author's pyrotechnic displays of wit and erudition. Delightful examples abound, whether it is Arthur leaping to his feet ‘like an author hearing the phone ring’, or the invaluable acronym SEP (‘Somebody Else’s Problem’). We also learn the art, or rather knack, of flying (simply aim for the ground, and miss). Above all, this is the book in which we find out why the Earth has been shunned by the rest of the galaxy (essentially, it’s down to cricket).
'Lovingly illustrated by Jonathan Burton, The Folio Society edition of Life, the Universe and Everything is a thing of great beauty. It immediately cheers you up, which may be something to do with the sparkly effect on the front, spine and back. The sparkles evoke all the stars in the universe. But they also make you think of party dress material, not to mention the big ugly men – Bowie and Bolan excepted – who used spangliness to express their supposed glamour and sexual ambivalence in the era of Glam Rock. So. Nice one, Folio Soc. You didn't just evoke the Universe. You got Life in there and Everything.'
Jonathan Burton, in his third Hitchhiker commission, has created an inspired visual interpretation of moments such as Marvin the Paranoid Android talking to a mattress. This edition is newly introduced by Jon Canter. Hailed by the Independent as ‘arguably the finest comic novelist working in Britain today’, he also shared a flat with Adams while this book was being written. In a wonderfully funny and personal tribute to his friend, he writes: ‘Reader, enjoy yourself. You’re in for a treat. And Douglas: so long, and thanks for all the washing-up.’