For questions about The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a series of BBC radio plays and books by Douglas Adams. It is a science fiction comedy, beginning with the destruction of Earth to make a hyperspace bypass and a quest for the question to the ultimate answer (which is 42).

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (sometimes abbreviated HHGTTG or H2G2) started out as a radio play written and directed by Douglas Adams. A first series of 6 episodes aired on BBC Radio 4 in 1978, then 6 more episodes aired in 1980. Douglas Adams then wrote a series of 5 books following some of the plot of the radio series and extending it. There were later many official adaptations, including a TV series, a computer game, some comic books, towels, and most famously a movie.

The plot

The different versions of the Hitchhiker's Guide follow different, sometimes contradictory plots. The story has a strong streak towards the absurd. Even inside one version, plot twists, time travel, details that turn out to be crucial and things that aren't what they seemed abound. Several plot elements have become famous and permeate through popular culture.

A common element of all the versions is that the story opens with the destruction of Earth to make room for a hyperspace bypass, resulting the hapless Arthur Dent leaving for adventures on a spaceship in the company of Ford Prefect, an alien writing for the travel book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

On the cover of the fictional Guide is written Don't Panic in “large friendly letters”.

The answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything is 42 (forty-two). This would make sense if we knew what the question was, but we don't.

Two well-known characters are Zaphod Beeblebrox, an alien with two heads and a huge ego; and Marvin the Paranoid Android, a perpetually depressed robot.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe is situated at the end of the universe, just before the Big Crunch. You can time-travel there and watch the universe being destroyed as you eat.

Galactic hitchhikers set a great importance on towels. The towel has become an icon of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Main works and adaptations

Radio

There were five radio series (known as phases) of 4 to 6 episodes (known as fits) each.

The original series, consisting of Primary Phase (Fit the First through Fit the Sixth) and the Secondary Phase (Fit the Seventh through Fit the Twelfth) were written and directed by Douglas Adams in 1978 and 1980. Later material appeared in books.

After Douglas Adams's death, from 2003 to 2005, three more series were produced and broadcast. The Tertiary Phase, Quandary Phase and Quintessential Phase together make up Fit the Thirteenth through Fit the Twenty-Sixth.

Books

Douglas Adams wrote 5 Hitchhiker novels, which he called an “increasingly inaccurately named trilogy”. The first two books were adapted from the first two radio series, whereas the subsequent three radio series were adapted from the books.

  1. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  2. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
  3. Life, the Universe and Everything
  4. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
  5. Mostly Harmless

The movie

Garth Jennings directed a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie, released in 2005. IMDB

Other adaptations and derivative

Alan J.W. Bell produced and directed a television adaptation of the original series for the BBC, broadcasting 6 episodes in 1981. IMDB

Infocom released an interactive fiction game based on the series in 1984.

Resources

history | excerpt history