While reading the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, I was thinking if the Encyclopaedia Galactica mentioned in the book is the same as Asimov's Foundation Trilogy's Encyclopædia Galactica? Could it be some kind of a humorous homage to Asimov's trilogy??

Based on the way it's mentioned in the HGTTG, it looks like the Encyclopaedia Galactica has already been published before present-day, and in The Foundation trilogy it happens in a future far beyond.

Maybe it's just a meta-reference. Not strict canon.

Some people says Carl Sagan used to speculate about a Encyclopedia Galactica in his TV series Cosmos. Perhaps it was a tribute to Carl Sagan as it seems to me they were contemporaneous and others say that Carl Sagan was likely referring to The Foundation's as well. He was apparently a big fan of Asimov and they became friends.

What is the real connection, if any? Could it be a reference to Asimov, Carl Sagan, or is it just a coincidental reference?

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    IMHO it's just a logical extrapolation from the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Commented Mar 17, 2013 at 12:24
  • 1
    @MartinSchröder which is where afaik Asimov got the idea from too. Can still mean Adam was referring to Asimov rather than the Britannica at least directly.
    – jwenting
    Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 8:18
  • FYI, the Encyclopedia Galactica is also used as a reference work in the Legion of Super-Heroes comic, primarily during the Levitz/Giffen years. Commented Jul 10, 2018 at 12:55

3 Answers 3


It's possible that the reference to the Encyclopedia Galactica was a joke at Asimov's expense, rather than a tribute to him - as THHGttG says, "In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitchhiker’s Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopaedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom".

Elsewhere (as recorded in Don't Panic! - originally compiled by Neil Gaiman), Adam's had commented "Years ago, I read Asimov's Foundation trilogy. The ideas are captivating, but the writing! I wouldn't employ him to write junk mail!"


I would have thought that it was more a reference to the Encyclopedia Britannica

It's long been a source of amusement over here that families would aspire to having a full set of the Encyclopedia and even gift it in Wills.

Of course now we have Wikipedia

(oops didn't see martin-schroder 's comment)


Like Dan and Martin, I suspect that Adams' use of Encyclopedia Galactica is an extension of Encyclopedia Britannica.

I think the same is true of Asimov's use of the name in the Foundation series. As the first Foundation story was published in 1942, it is quite possible that Adams was aware of it.

However, Carl Sagan's Cosmos series was first broadcast in 1980, two years after The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was first broadcast on radio. Unless he corresponded with Sagan during the writing of Cosmos, Adams could not have been aware of Sagan's use of the name.

  • There was also a book published in 1978 based on the Battlestar Galactica TV series which I bought. Do not know if it is connected to the Hitchhikers reference.
    – user76394
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 16:44

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