The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (novel)
|Series||The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy|
|Genre||Comedy, Science fiction novel|
12 October 1979 (UK)October 1980 (US)
|Followed by||The Restaurant at the End of the Universe|
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the first of five books in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy comedy science fiction "trilogy" by Douglas Adams (with the sixth written by Eoin Colfer). 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 book begins with council workmen arriving at Arthur Dent's house. They wish to demolish his house in order to build a bypass.
Arthur's best friend, Ford Prefect, arrives, warning him of the end of the world. Ford is revealed to be an alien who had come to Earth to research it for the titular Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, an enormous work providing information about every planet and place in the universe. The two head to a pub, where the locals question Ford's knowledge of the Apocalypse. An alien race, known as Vogons, show up to demolish Earth in order to build a bypass for an intergalactic highway. Arthur and Ford manage to get onto the Vogon ship just before Earth is demolished, where they are forced to listen to horrible Vogon poetry as a form of torture. Arthur and Ford are ordered to say how much they like the poetry in order to avoid being thrown out of the airlock, and while Ford finds listening to be painful, Arthur believes it to be genuinely good, since human poetry is apparently even worse.
Arthur and Ford are then placed into the airlock and jettisoned into space, only to be rescued by Zaphod Beeblebrox's ship, the Heart of Gold. Zaphod, a semi-cousin of Ford, is the President of the Galaxy, and is accompanied by a depressed robot named Marvin and a human woman by the name of Trillian. The five embark on a journey to find the legendary planet known as Magrathea, known for selling luxury planets. Once there, they are taken into the planet's centre by a man named Slartibartfast. There, they learn that a supercomputer named Deep Thought, who determined the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything to be the number 42, created Earth as an even greater computer to calculate the question to which 42 is the answer.
Trillian's mice, actually part of the group of sentient and hyper-intelligent superbeings that had Earth created in the first place, 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 when the brain is about to be removed, and the group decides to go to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
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
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).
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 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.
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.
- Number one on the Sunday Times best seller list (1979)
- Author received the "Golden Pan" (From his publishers for reaching the 1,000,000th book sold) (1984)
- Waterstone's Books/Channel Four's list of the 'One Hundred Greatest Books of the Century', at number 24. (1996)
- BBC's "Big Read", an attempt to find the "Nation's Best-loved book", ranked it number four. (2003)
- Spelling of Hitchhiker's Guide for variations in the spelling of the title.
- 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.
- 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.
- "1000 novels everyone must read: Science Fiction & Fantasy (part one)". The Guardian. 22 January 2009. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
- "And another thing...". The Today Programme. BBC. 17 September 2008. Retrieved 16 December 2008.