In this weekly series, we bring you the genre novels you really should have read by now…
THE HITCHHIKERS’ GUIDE TO THE GALAXY by Douglas Adams
First Published: 1979, based on an earlier radio play
Genre: Science Fiction
In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.
Summary: Arthur Dent, humankind’s last survivor, finds himself an unwelcome guest on a Vogon destructor fleet vessel after Earth is demolished to make way for an interstellar bypass. He is saved from death by poetry — written by the renegade Galactic president he is shortly to meet — and the stolen Heart of Gold infinite improbability driven space ship. He then goes on adventures throughout space and time, when all he really wants is a nice cup of tea and a lie down.
Why It’s Must-Read: A book that not only amusingly details an incredible inter-stellar journey, it also makes lining up fun! How can it not be essential reading? Even if it is, to Arthur Dent, mainly a disappointment.
The “trilogy in five parts” continues with:
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)
In addition, Eoin Colfer, of Artemis Fowl fame, wrote a follow up in 2009, And Another Thing…
On Screen: Most recently in 2005 with Alan Rickman as the voice of Marvin the Paranoid Android, alongside Martin Freeman, Sam Rockwell and Zoey Deschanel, but the BBC version from 1981 remains the definitive adaptation.
In Other Media: Aside from the original radio play, there have been multiple stage productions, video games, audio books, a BBC TV series, a DC Comic adaptation and warehouses full of “Hitch-Hikeriana” merchandise.
In Popular Culture: The 1997 song “Paranoid Android” (huzzah for Radiohead!!), of course, and the Paranoid Android himself had a couple of UK hit singles, as well. Each year on May 25 the world celebrates Towel Day, on which H2G2 enthusiasts carry a towel with them in homage to the series — and, of course, everyone knows that the ultimate meaning of life, the universe and everything is 42…
Awards and Nominations: Weirdly, none.