Written by Douglas Adams, "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe" was first published in 1980 and is the second instalment of his legendary five-part "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" trilogy. It starts within a matter of hours of where "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" finished so - at the risk of stating the obvious - is entirely the wrong place to start !! The series started life as a radio show, before becoming a book, a television series, a play and a bath towel. Douglas Adams was born in Cambridge in 1952 and died in May 2001 in California.
The Earth has been destroyed, officially to make way for a hyperspace bypass, and only two humans - Arthur Dent and Tricia McMillan - have survived. Arthur was rescued by an old friend called Ford Prefect - a roving reporter for "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", a sort of interstellar Rough Guide. The pair managed to escape the demolition of Earth by sneaking on-board the Vogon ship in charge of its destruction. Arthur and Ford are later picked up by Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed, three-armed, renegade ex-President of the Galaxy and an old school-friend of Ford's. Beeblebrox's spaceship, "The Heart of Gold", is the most powerful and unpredictable ship in the universe. Its crew is completed by Marvin, a paranoid android, and Trillian - as Tricia is now known - she'd met Zaphod at a party some months previously.
At the end of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", Zaphod had decided to visit Milliways, the restaurant at the end of the universe. However, following an argument with the ship's computer, he has to calculate the improbability factor the need to actually get there himself. Unfortunately, the Vogon ship that destroyed Earth is approaching the "Heart of Gold" with a view to killing the planet's last surviving ex-residents. With the computer frozen, trying to understand how to make a cup of tea for Arthur, there is no apparent escape. The only possible option is to hold a s'ance, so Zaphod can ask his deceased great-grandfather for help. That help involves a trip to Ursa Minor Beta, home to a certain hugely popular guide book, and Frogstar B, the most evil world in the galaxy and home to the Total Perspective Vortex.
Like "Hitchhiker's...", this is an extremely silly and very easily-read book. However, although there's more of a point to what the characters get up to in this instalment, I'd still recommend reading "Hitchhiker's..." first. Hugely enjoyable and highly recommended.