Cover of the first US hardcover edition of Mostly Harmless
|Cover artist||Peter Cross, US hardcover|
|Country||United Kingdom, United States|
|Series||The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy|
|Genre||Comic science fiction|
|Publisher||William Heinemann, UK; Harmony Books, US|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover and Paperback)|
|Pages||229, UK paperback; 240, US paperback|
|Preceded by||So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish|
|Followed by||And Another Thing...|
Mostly Harmless is a 1992 novel by Douglas Adams and the fifth book in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. It is described on the cover of the first editions as "The fifth book in the increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhikers Trilogy". It was the last Hitchhiker's book written by Adams and his final book released in his lifetime.
The title derives from a joke early in the series, when Arthur Dent discovers that the entry for Earth in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy consists, in its entirety, of the word "Harmless". His friend Ford Prefect, a contributor to the Guide, assures him that the next edition will contain the article on Earth that Ford has spent the last 15 years researching—somewhat cut due to space restrictions, but still an improvement. The revised article, he eventually admits, will simply read "Mostly harmless". It later turns out that Ford had written a long essay on how to have fun on Earth, but the editors in the guide's main office building edited everything out. Later in the series, Ford is surprised to discover that all of his contribution had been edited back into the Guide, prompting his reunion with Arthur on the alternative Earth in So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish .
In an interview reprinted in The Salmon of Doubt , Adams expressed dissatisfaction with the tone of this book, which he blamed on personal problems, saying "for all sorts of personal reasons that I don't want to go into, I just had a thoroughly miserable year, and I was trying to write a book against that background. And, guess what, it was a rather bleak book!"
Arthur Dent plans to sightsee across the Galaxy with his girlfriend Fenchurch, but she disappears during a hyperspace jump, a result of being from an unstable sector of the Galaxy. Depressed, Arthur continues to travel the galaxy using semen donations to fund his travels, assured of his safety until he visits Stavromula Beta, having killed an incarnation of Agrajag at some point in the future at said planet. During one trip, he ends up stranded on the homely planet Lamuella, and decides to stay to become a sandwich maker for the local population.
Meanwhile, Ford Prefect has returned to the offices of the Hitchhiker's Guide, and is annoyed to find out the original publishing company, Megadodo Publications, has been taken over by InfiniDim Enterprises, which are run by the Vogons. Fearing for his life, he escapes the building, along the way stealing the yet-unpublished, seemingly sentient Hitchhiker's Guide Mk. II. He goes into hiding after sending the Guide to himself, care of Arthur, for safekeeping.
On Lamuella, Arthur is surprised by the appearance of Trillian with a teenage daughter, Random Dent. Trillian explains that she wanted a child, and used the only human DNA she could find, thus claiming that Arthur is Random's father. She leaves Random with Arthur to allow her to better pursue her career as an intergalactic reporter. Random is frustrated with Arthur and life on Lamuella; when Ford's package to Arthur arrives, she takes it and discovers the Guide. The Guide helps her to escape the planet on Ford's ship after Ford arrives on the planet looking for Arthur. Discovering Random, the Guide, and Ford's ship missing, the two manage to find a way to leave Lamuella and head for Earth, where they suspect Random is also heading to find Trillian. Ford expresses concern at the Guide's manipulation of events, noting its "Unfiltered Perception" and fearing its potence and ultimate objective.
Reporter Tricia McMillan is a version of Trillian living on an alternate Earth who never took Zaphod Beeblebrox's offer to travel in space. She is approached by an extraterrestrial species, the Grebulons, who have created a base of operations on the planet Rupert, a recently discovered tenth planet in the Solar System. However, due to damage to their ship in arriving, they have lost most of their computer core and their memories, with the only salvageable instructions being to observe something interesting with Earth. They ask Tricia's help to adapt astrology charts for Rupert in exchange for allowing her to interview them. Tricia conducts the interview, but the resulting footage looks fake. She is called away from editing the footage to report on a spaceship landing in the middle of London.
As Tricia arrives, Random is leaving the ship. Random yells at Tricia, who she believes to be her mother. Arthur, Ford, and Trillian arrive and help Tricia to calm Random. They remove her from the chaos surrounding the spacecraft and take her to a bar. Trillian tries to warn the group that the Grebulons, having become bored with their mission, are about to destroy the Earth. Random disrupts the discussion by producing a laser gun she took from her ship. Arthur, still believing he cannot die, tries to calm Random, but a distraction causes her to fire the weapon, sending the bar into a panic. Arthur tends to a man hit by the blast, who drops a card with the name of the bar- "Stavro Mueller – Beta". Arthur sees Ford laughing wildly at this turn of events, and experiences a "tremendous feeling of peace".
The Grebulons, having determined that removing Earth from the astrological charts will improve their horoscopes, destroy it. It is revealed that the Vogons designed the Guide Mk. II with the ability to see the potential outcome of any event, enabling it to ensure that every version of the Earth in all realities is destroyed. Its mission complete, the Guide collapses into nothingness.
Unlike the previous books in the series, Mostly Harmless received mixed reviews noting its darker tone. Nicholas Lezard in The Guardian wrote: "I doubt there is a comedy sci-fi work bleaker than Mostly Harmless".The Independent concluded "Mostly Harmless has all the wit and inventiveness of vintage Douglas Adams, though its loose ends are not tied together as comprehensively as in previous Hitch-Hiker books". David Edelman in the Baltimore Evening Sun wrote: "Somewhere buried in the mess is a moral about learning how to feel at home in a chaotic universe. Unfortunately, Adams' skills at conveying serious messages are nowhere near on a level with his skill at conjuring up non sequiturs, and the idea gets buried".
Dirk Maggs adapted the book as the "Quintessential Phase" of the radio series, and it was broadcast in June 2005. The radio version has an entirely new, upbeat ending, appended to the existing story.
In the alternate ending, after the destruction of Earth, the description of the Babel fish from the earlier series is replayed with an additional section, which states that dolphins and Babel fish are acquainted, and that the dolphins' ability to travel through possibility space (first mentioned in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and elaborated on in So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish) is shared by the Babel fish as well. During the ending, Ford explains that the dolphins got taught this skill from the Babel fish in exchange for knowing a good place to have parties. All the major characters are carrying Babel fish in their ears, which rescue them at the moment of Earth's destruction by transporting them to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. It's also revealed that Fenchurch was transported here when she vanished and has been patiently waiting for Arthur to show up. The characters are reunited with Marvin, and it is revealed that beyond the Restaurant (and beyond the car park in which Marvin works) lies an endless series of blue lagoons — the final destination of the dolphins. The series ends with Arthur asking Fenchurch, "Will you come flying with me?", and her reply, "Always."
The version released on CD contains an even longer set of alternate endings, including one set after the events of the twelfth radio episode (with Arthur Dent and Lintilla), and on an alternate Earth where Arthur Dent and Fenchurch engage in a stand-off against Mr Prosser, together.
There have been four unabridged audiobook recordings of the novel. In 1992, Adams himself recorded an edition, later re-released by New Millennium Audio in the United States and available from BBC Audiobooks in the United Kingdom. In 2006, actor Martin Freeman, who had played Arthur Dent in the 2005 movie, recorded a new edition of the audiobook. This is the only book in the five novel series not to have also had a prior, abridged edition read by Stephen Moore. In addition, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped released a version of the book, narrated by George Guidall-Shapiro, on 4-track cassette tape in 1993.
Joshua D. Angrist and Joern-Steffen Pischke named their applied econometrics toolkit book "Mostly Harmless Econometrics" in the spirit of Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Mostly Harmless.
Slartibartfast is a character in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a comedy/science fiction series created by Douglas Adams. The character appears in the first and third novels, the first and third radio series, the 1981 television series and the 2005 feature film. The character was modelled after actor John Le Mesurier.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a comedy science fiction series created by Douglas Adams. Originally a radio comedy broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978, it was later adapted to other formats, including stage shows, novels, comic books, a 1981 TV series, a 1984 video game, and 2005 feature film.
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish is the fourth book of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy "trilogy" written by Douglas Adams. Its title is the message left by the dolphins when they departed Planet Earth just before it was demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass, as described in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The phrase has since been adopted by some science fiction fans as a humorous way to say "goodbye" and a song of the same name was featured in the 2005 film adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Ford Prefect is a fictional character in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by the British author Douglas Adams. His role as Arthur's friend – and rescuer, when the Earth is unexpectedly demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass at the start of the story – is often expository, as Ford is an experienced galactic hitch-hiker and explains that he is actually an alien journalist, a field researcher for the titular Guide itself, and not an out-of-work actor from Guildford as he had hitherto claimed. He also claims to have portrayed roles in several bootleg plays such as “David and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Godspell”.
Arthur Philip Dent is a fictional character and the hapless protagonist of the comic science fiction series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
Tricia Marie McMillan, also known as Trillian Astra, is a fictional character from Douglas Adams' series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. She is most commonly referred to simply as "Trillian", a modification of her birth name, which she adopted because it sounded more "space-like". According to the movie version, her middle name is Marie. Physically, she is described as "a slim, darkish humanoid, with long waves of black hair, a full mouth, an odd little knob of a nose and ridiculously brown eyes," looking "vaguely Arabic."
Life, the Universe and Everything is the third book in the five-volume Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy science fiction "trilogy" by British writer Douglas Adams. The title refers to the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything.
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe is the second book in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy comedy science fiction "trilogy" by Douglas Adams, and is a sequel. It was originally published by Pan Books as a paperback. The book was inspired by the song "Grand Hotel" by British rock band Procol Harum. The book title refers to Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, one of the settings of the book.
The Vogons are a fictional alien race from the planet Vogsphere in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy—initially a BBC Radio series by Douglas Adams—who are responsible for the destruction of the Earth, in order to facilitate an intergalactic highway construction project for a hyperspace express route. Vogons are slug-like but vaguely humanoid, are bulkier than humans, and have green skin. Vogons are described as "one of the most unpleasant races in the galaxy—not actually evil, but bad-tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous", and having "as much sex appeal as a road accident" as well as being the authors of "the third worst poetry in the universe". They are employed as the galactic government's bureaucrats. According to Marvin the Paranoid Android, they are also the worst marksmen in the galaxy.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is an interactive fiction video game based on the comedic science fiction series of the same name. It was designed by series creator Douglas Adams and Infocom's Steve Meretzky, and it was first released in 1984 for the Apple II, Macintosh, Commodore 64, CP/M, MS-DOS, Amiga, Atari 8-bit family, and Atari ST. It is Infocom's fourteenth game.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the first of six books in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy comedy science fiction "trilogy" by Douglas Adams. The novel is an adaptation of the first four parts of Adams' radio series of the same name. The novel was first published in London on 12 October 1979. It sold 250,000 copies in the first three months.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a 2005 British-American science fiction comedy film directed by Garth Jennings, based upon previous works in the media franchise of the same name, created by Douglas Adams. It stars Martin Freeman, Sam Rockwell, Mos Def, Zooey Deschanel, and the voices of Stephen Fry and Alan Rickman.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a comic science fiction series created by Douglas Adams that has become popular among fans of the genre(s) and members of the scientific community. Phrases from it are widely recognised and often used in reference to, but outside the context of, the source material. Many writers on popular science, such as Fred Alan Wolf, Paul Davies and Michio Kaku, have used quotations in their books to illustrate facts about cosmology or philosophy.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a science fiction comedy radio series written by Douglas Adams. It was originally broadcast in the United Kingdom by BBC Radio 4 in 1978, and afterwards the BBC World Service, National Public Radio in the US and CBC Radio in Canada. The series was the first radio comedy programme to be produced in stereo, and was innovative in its use of music and sound effects, winning a number of awards.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a BBC television adaptation of Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy which was broadcast in January and February 1981 on UK television station BBC Two. The adaptation follows the original radio series in 1978 and 1980, the first novel and double LP, in 1979, and the stage shows, in 1979 and 1980, making it the fifth iteration of the guide.
The terms Primary Phase and Secondary Phase describe the first two radio series of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, first broadcast in 1978. These were the first incarnations of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy franchise. Both were written by Douglas Adams and consist of six episodes each.
The Tertiary Phase, Quandary Phase, Quintessential Phase and Hexagonal Phase are respectively the third, fourth, fifth and sixth series of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio series. Produced in 2003, 2004 and 2018 by Above the Title Productions for BBC Radio 4, they are radio adaptations of the third, fourth, fifth and sixth books in Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series: Life, the Universe and Everything; So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish; Mostly Harmless and And Another Thing....
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a fictional electronic guide book in the multimedia scifi/comedy series of the same name by Douglas Adams. The Guide serves as "the standard repository for all knowledge and wisdom" for many members of the series' galaxy-spanning civilization. Entries from the guidebook are used as comic narration to bridge events and provide background information in every version of the story. The guide is published by "Megadodo Publications", a publishing company on Ursa Minor Beta.
And Another Thing... is the sixth and final installment of Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy "trilogy". The book, written by Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl series, was published on the thirtieth anniversary of the first book, 12 October 2009, in hardback. It was published by Penguin Books in the UK and by Hyperion Books in the US. Colfer was given permission to write the book by Adams' widow Jane Belson.