cover image Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Quandary Phase

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Quandary Phase

Douglas Adams, , read by a full cast. . Audio Partners, $24.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-57270-488-6

This quick little addition to the series, far more subdued than the previous "phase," is paradoxically a better introduction for newcomers to Adams's often imitated brand of satire. Arthur Dent, the series' protagonist and straight man, returns home to a destroyed and rebuilt Earth (identical to the one he left but for the lack of dolphins) and promptly falls in love. The object of his clumsy affections is Fenchurch, a young woman who had been on the verge of comprehending the secret to eternal contentment when Earth was destroyed. In order to recover her lost revelation, Fenchurch and Arthur (and some of his old hitchhiking friends) seek out God's final message to his creation, written in fire on the top of a mountain in a distant part of the galaxy. The story is straightforward by series standards and depends little on previous (and, as yet, unreleased) episodes of the radio program; the humor is decidedly low-key and the running time surprisingly short. All of this allows easy access for first timers, but won't leave a big impression on fans, especially after the promise of the perfectly zany Tertiary Phase . (Nov.)