The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The story of the last morning of the Earth, over England anyways, and how with the help of a stranded alien (Ford Prefect) he was friends with the last man (Arthur Dent) survived the planet's end begins the first story of the Hitchhiker's series. But the story quickly introduces the President of the Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox, and his confederate Trillian, who happens to now be the last female from Earth, along with their depressed android Marvin aboard the Heart of Gold (which Zaphod stole at the launching ceremony).
After attempting to save his house from demolition for a new bypass, Arthur just gets off the planet when the alien Vogon demolition the Earth to make way for a new interstellar bypass. Learning on the fly and in the depths of an alien, one of the Vogon, he learns his friend is actually an alien who has been stranded on Earth then quickly finds himself jettison from airlock and improbably saved by the passing Heart of Gold. Then Arthur finds him on a mysterious planet inhabited by a race that actually constructed Earth as a massive computer to find "The Question" to "The Answer" to the "Life, the Universe, and Everything", commissioned by mice 10 million years ago.
The whip around style of the adventure and funny entries of the titular guide are the highlights of this first story of the series. Unfortunately, we hardly get to know any of the characters very much and besides the guide entries, the humor is somewhat bland with only a few times were smiles crossed my face. Overall it's an okay story, but if it wasn't for the fact that I'm reading an omnibus edition and the big fandom on the 'net I wonder if I would even be interested in seeking out other stories.
2 1/2 STARS