The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (novel)

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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
H2G2 UK front cover.jpg
Cover of the original UK paperback edition of the novel, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Hipgnosis and Ian Wright. The back cover featured the slogan "DON'T PANIC" in the same colour-video-screen style. [1]
Author Douglas Adams
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Genre Comic science fiction
Publisher Pan Books
Publication date
  • 12 October 1979 (UK)
  • October 1980 (US)
Media typePrint (hardcover and paperback)
ISBN 0-330-25864-8
LC Class PR6051.D3352
Followed by The Restaurant at the End of the Universe  

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. [2] It sold 250,000 copies in the first three months. [3]

Contents

The namesake of the novel is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy , a fictional guide book for hitchhikers (inspired by the Hitch-hiker's Guide to Europe ) written in the form of an encyclopedia.

Plot summary

Earthman Arthur Dent is rescued by his friend, Ford Prefect—an alien researcher for the titular Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, an enormous work providing information about every planet in the universe—from the Earth just before it is destroyed by the alien Vogons. After being tossed out of the Vogon ship that they hitched a ride on, Arthur and Ford are rescued by the Heart of Gold, a spaceship driven by Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ford's semi-cousin and the President of the Galaxy. The ship's crew—Arthur, Ford, Zaphod, a depressed robot named Marvin, and a human woman by the name of Trillian—embark on a journey to find the legendary planet known as Magrathea, known for selling luxury planets.

On Magrathea, the five are taken into the planet's centre by a man named Slartibartfast. There, they learn that in the distant past a race of "hyperintelligent, pan-dimensional beings" created a supercomputer named Deep Thought to determine the answer to the "Ultimate Question to Life, the Universe, and Everything", which Deep Thought determined to be the number 42. Deep Thought tells its creators that the answer makes no sense to them because they didn't know what the "Ultimate Question" had been in the first place, and offers to design an even greater computer to determine what the Ultimate Question was. This computer is revealed to have been the planet Earth, which was constructed by the Magratheans, and was five minutes away from finishing its task and yielding the Ultimate Question when the Vogons destroyed it. Trillian's mice, actually part of the group of hyper-intelligent superbeings, reject the idea of building a second Earth to redo the process, and offer to buy Arthur's brain in the hope that it contains the question, leading to a fight when he declines. Zaphod saves Arthur from having his brain removed, the fivesome escape Magrathea, and the group decides to go to The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

Illustrated edition

The Illustrated Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a specially designed book made in 1994. It was first printed in the United Kingdom by Weidenfeld & Nicolson and in the United States by Harmony Books (who sold it for $42.00). It is an oversized book, and came in silver-foil "holographic" covers in both the UK and US markets. It features the first appearance of the 42 Puzzle, designed by Adams himself, a photograph of Adams and his literary agent Ed Victor as the two space cops, and many other designs by Kevin Davies, who has participated in many Hitchhiker's related projects since the stage productions in the late 1970s. Davies himself appears as Prosser. This edition is out of print Adams bought up many remainder copies and sold them, autographed, on his website.

In other media

Audiobook adaptations

There have been three audiobook recordings of the novel. The first was an abridged edition ( ISBN   0-671-62964-6), recorded in the mid-1980s by Stephen Moore, best known for playing the voice of Marvin the Paranoid Android in the radio series, LP adaptations and in the TV series. In 1990, Adams himself recorded an unabridged edition for Dove Audiobooks ( ISBN   1-55800-273-1), later re-released by New Millennium Audio ( ISBN   1-59007-257-X) in the United States and available from BBC Audiobooks in the United Kingdom. Also by arrangement with Dove, ISIS Publishing Ltd produced a numbered exclusive edition signed by Douglas Adams ( ISBN   1-85695-028-X) in 1994. To tie-in with the 2005 film, actor Stephen Fry, the film's voice of the Guide, recorded a second unabridged edition ( ISBN   0-7393-2220-6).

Television series

The popularity of the radio series gave rise to a six-episode television series, directed and produced by Alan J. W. Bell, which first aired on BBC 2 in January and February 1981. It employed many of the actors from the radio series and was based mainly on the radio versions of Fits the First through Sixth. A second series was at one point planned, with a storyline, according to Alan Bell and Mark Wing-Davey that would have come from Adams's abandoned Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen project (instead of simply making a TV version of the second radio series). However, Adams got into disputes with the BBC (accounts differ: problems with budget, scripts, and having Alan Bell involved are all offered as causes), and the second series was never made. Elements of Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen were instead used in the third novel, Life, the Universe and Everything.

The main cast was the same as the original radio series, except for David Dixon as Ford Prefect instead of McGivern, and Sandra Dickinson as Trillian instead of Sheridan.

Film adaptation

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was adapted into a science fiction comedy film directed by Garth Jennings and released on 28 April 2005 in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, and on the following day in the United States and Canada. It was rolled out to cinemas worldwide during May, June, July, August and September.

Series

The deliberately misnamed Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy "Trilogy" consists of six books, five written by Adams: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979), The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980), Life, the Universe and Everything (1982), So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (1984) and Mostly Harmless (1992). On 16 September 2008 it was announced that Irish author Eoin Colfer was to pen a sixth book. The book, entitled And Another Thing... , was published in October 2009, on the 30th anniversary of the publication of the original novel. [4]

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was never titled "trilogy." It was called that by readers, but the word "trilogy" doesn't appear on the cover of the first three books and was not used until the publication of the fourth book.

Legacy

The "Babel fish", a creature used in the novel that feeds on brainwaves and can instantly translate alien languages, inspired the name of Babel Fish, the first free online language translator, which launched in 1997. [5]

When Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster was launched into space on the maiden flight of the Falcon Heavy rocket in February 2018, it had the words DON'T PANIC on the dashboard display and carried amongst other items a copy of the novel and a towel. [6] [7]

Awards

See also

Related Research Articles

Slartibartfast fictional character

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.

<i>The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy</i> Series of five books by Douglas Adams

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.

<i>Mostly Harmless</i> 1992 comic science fiction novel by Douglas Adams

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.

<i>So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish</i> 1984 book by Douglas Adams

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 (character) character from The Hitchhikers 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”.

Marvin the Paranoid Android character from the Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy

Marvin the Paranoid Android is a fictional character in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams. Marvin is the ship's robot aboard the starship Heart of Gold. Originally built as one of many failed prototypes of Sirius Cybernetics Corporation's GPP technology, Marvin is afflicted with severe depression and boredom, in part because he has a "brain the size of a planet" which he is seldom, if ever, given the chance to use. Indeed, the true horror of Marvin's existence is that no task he could be given would occupy even the tiniest fraction of his vast intellect. Marvin claims he is 50,000 times more intelligent than a human, though this is, if anything, an underestimation. When kidnapped by the bellicose Krikkit robots and tied to the interfaces of their intelligent war computer, Marvin simultaneously manages to plan the entire planet's military strategy, solve "all of the major mathematical, physical, chemical, biological, sociological, philosophical, etymological, meteorological and psychological problems of the Universe except his own, three times over", and compose a number of lullabies.

Arthur Dent fictional character

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.

Trillian (character) fictional character

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."

<i>Life, the Universe and Everything</i> 1982 book by Douglas Adams

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.

<i>The Restaurant at the End of the Universe</i> 1980 book by Douglas Adams

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.

Vogon fictional alien race in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

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.

<i>The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy</i> (video game) 1984 interactive fiction video game

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.

<i>The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy</i> (film) 2005 British-American comic science fiction film directed by Garth Jennings

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.

<i>The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy</i> (radio series) science fiction comedy radio series

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.

<i>The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy</i> (TV series) BBC television series

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.

<i>The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy</i> Primary and Secondary Phases radio series written by Douglas Adams

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....

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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.

<i>And Another Thing...</i> (novel) Eoin Colfer novel

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.

References

  1. Neil Gaiman (1988). DON'T PANIC: The official Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy companion. Titan Books. p. 50. ISBN   1-85286-013-8. OCLC   24722438.
  2. Webb, Nick (6 October 2003). Wish You Were Here: The Official Biography of Douglas Adams. Chatham, Kent: Headline. p. 157. ISBN   0-7553-1155-8.
  3. "1000 novels everyone must read: Science Fiction & Fantasy (part one)". The Guardian. 22 January 2009. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  4. "And another thing..." The Today Programme. BBC. 17 September 2008. Retrieved 16 December 2008.
  5. Miller, Michael (2004). 501 web site secrets : unleash the power of Google, Amazon, eBay, and more. Indianapolis, IN: Wiley. p. 183. ISBN   0-7645-6872-8. OCLC   55477510.
  6. "SpaceX's historic Falcon Heavy successfully launches". Techcrunch. 7 February 2018.
  7. "Tweet by Elon Musk".