The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

By: Douglas Adams

When all questions of space, time, matter, and the nature of being have been resolved, only one question remains- “Where shall we have dinner?” The Restaurant at the End of the Universe provides the ultimate gastronomic experience, and for once there is no morning after to worry about. 

As I recently described the general vibe of Douglas Adams, I don’t think it bares repeating here, so this review is going to be rather short. What I would like to focus on are some of the questions discussed in this book (always with humor, but it really does make you think). 

If you were sitting in a restaurant and a cow walked up to your table offering itself as your meal, how would you react? In this universe, cows were bred to not only talk but want to be eaten. They introduce themselves, discuss their diets, and spin around to show their prime cuts of meat. Should you agree to partake of their flesh, they proceed to go back into the kitchen and shoot themselves so that your meal can be prepared. The book commentates on how sickening it would feel to talk to a sentient being before asking it to die so that you could eat it. Not only that, the cow itself states that it is better that it was bred to want to be eaten than murder animals that don’t. 

If your food could talk to you before it died, do you think you would be more okay with eating meat or would you become a vegetarian? If you would become a vegetarian, why don’t you do so now when the animals we consume don’t what to be butchered for food? Would you rather not think about it, and if so what does that say about you?

Secondly, the book states that those who wish to be in power are also those most unqualified to rule. We get to meet the emperor of the universe: a kindly old man who lives in a hut with his cat on a remote rainy planet that only six people know how to get to. He questions the existence of everything, isn’t sure if he is the only real person alive, and happily states that he tries not to think about the fact that he rules everything. He’s very content in his hut repeatedly exploring the use of a pencil and paper. 

Would you want the universe to be ruled by someone who didn’t want that responsibility or an arrogant ruler who believed they deserved it? What does that say about your religious views? Would you even want anyone to have that kind of authority or is it better that life is so chaotic?

Lastly, (and this is a statement more than a question), no matter how much time and planning goes into something, life can always throw a wrench in it. Existence is one giant joke, so it’s best to not take anything too seriously. A lesson I struggle with but hope to one day live by. To laugh more and to worry less. We only get the one life. 

Overall rating: 4.5

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