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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (novel)

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
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
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Genre Comedy, science fiction novel
Publisher Pan Books
Publication date
12 October 1979
OCLC 11392229
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.[2] It sold 250,000 copies in the first three months.[3]

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 1
  • Illustrated edition 2
  • Audiobook adaptations 3
  • Film adaptation 4
  • Series 5
  • Awards 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Plot summary

The book begins with contractors 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. The two head to a bar, where the locals question Ford's knowledge of the Apocalypse. An alien race, known as Vogons, show up to demolish the planet, and Arthur and Ford manage to get on their ship just before Earth is demolished, where they are forced to listen to Vogon poetry as punishment. Arthur tries to say it is beautiful to avoid being thrown out of an airlock with Ford.

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 cousin of Ford, is the President of the Galaxy, 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 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 answer, 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.

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.

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).

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 USA and Canada. It was rolled out to cinemas worldwide during May, June, July, August and September.


The deliberately misnamed Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy "Trilogy" consists of six books: 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]


  • 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)

See also


  1. ^ Neil Gaiman (1988). DON'T PANIC: The official Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy companion. Titan Books. p. 50.  
  2. ^ Webb, Nick (6 October 2003). Wish You Were Here: The Official Biography of Douglas Adams. Chatham, Kent: Headline. p. 157.  
  3. ^ "1000 novels everyone must read: Science Ficton & 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. 

External links

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyAudio review and discussion of at The Science Fiction Book Review Podcast
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