The ultimate guide to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books, universe and everything (2024)

Don't panic! Jean Menzies has everything you need to know about Douglas Adams’ intergalactic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy science fiction series, including each of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books in order and what to read next.

2021 marks 42 years sinceThe Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxybooks were published. So what? 42 years, you ask, what kind of anniversary is that? Well, allow me to tell you why this is the only anniversary that matters.

In 1978 comic genius Douglas Adams wrote the script for a new radio show. The story followed Arthur Dent, a perfectly ordinary human man whose best friend Ford Prefect is, unbeknownst to him, an alien. It’s a good thing they are friends though, because as Arthur soon finds out the earth is in the way of a hyperspace bypass and a fleet of Vogon spaceships is about to demolish the inconvenient planet. (If only humanity had paid a visit to the local galactic planning office, they might have had more warning.)

Arthur, however, is saved from certain death when Ford sticks out his thumb and hitches them a ride on the very ships about to destroy the Earth. Dragged into outer space by an intergalactic hitchhiker, Arthur is about to be faced with despondent robots, ear-splitting alien poetry and, perhaps most surprisingly of all, the woman who he had been kicking himself for not asking on a date at a party six months earlier. And during the course of their riotous adventures Arthur and co will learn the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything: 42.

How many The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books are there?

After the radio show was originally broadcast in 1978, Douglas Adams adapted the story to novel format the following year. One book is never enough, not with this amount of imagination, however, and he continued to expand on The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy universe over the course of four successive novels.

All five books are available individually or bound up in what Douglas Adams dubbed his ‘trilogy in five’ (just go with it).

In addition to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy novels you can also read the original radio script itself; keep an eye out for small differences between the radio show and the books because there are a few . . .

Of course, you could also try listening to the stories instead. Either pick up the original radio show or check out the audiobooks narrated by Stephen Fry and, later, Martin Freeman (both of whom you might recognise from the 2005 film adaptation).

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books in order

Arthur Dent is whisked into space by his best friend Ford Prefect – who turns out to be an alien hitchhiker. Together they join the crew of the spaceship Heart of Gold and set off to explore the universe.

While you’re exploring outer space, why not make the most of it and stop by the famous Restaurant at the End of the Universe? Arthur Dent certainly plans to. It’s just a shame there is a crew of angry Vogons trying to hunt down Arthur and his friends before dinner.

Arthur has travelled to the most distance recesses of space, yet somehow he never expected to also travel in time. Now he’s stranded on a prehistoric version of Earth, surely things can’t get any worse?

With the mystery of 42 finally solved you might think it’s time to take a nap but that’s not the case for Arthur and co. When Arthur meets Fenchurch, the girl of his dreams, he gets dragged into a mission to figure out how exactly the world can be made a happy place. Just your casual Sunday afternoon.

When all else fails, find a nice new planet and settle down – at least that’s what Arthur Dent has planned. But as we all know by now, nothing is that straightforward for our hapless human wanderer, and that nice quiet life goes out the window when his daughter turns up out of the blue.

This gorgeous 42nd anniversary gift edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is stunningly illustrated throughout by Costa Award-winner Chris Riddell.

It's an ordinary Thursday lunchtime for Arthur Dent until his house gets demolished. The Earth follows shortly afterwards to make way for a new hyperspace express route, and Arthur's best friend has just announced that he's an alien. At this moment, they're hurtling through space with nothing but their towels and a book inscribed in large, friendly letters: DON'T PANIC.

And if all of that weren’t enough, author Eoin Colfer contributed a sixth and final instalment to the series based on unpublished material from Douglas Adams himself, aptly entitledAnd Another Thing…

This collection is a faithful reproduction of the text which was published in 1985, featuring all twelve original radio scripts as they were broadcast for the very first time. This is a must-have piece of memorabilia for all Douglas Adams fans.

Is there a The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy film?

Over the years, the humour and creativity of Douglas Adams’ writing has garnered fans from every generation. This world-wide popularity has also inspired numerous adaptations of the stories that seep into every medium.The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxyhas been adapted into stage plays, TV series and a film.

In the immediate aftermath of the radio programme, various companies produced plays based on Arthur Dent’s adventures. Between 1979 and 1980 the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Theatr Clwyd, and Rainbow Theatre all put their hand to adaptingThe Hitchhiker’s Guide the Galaxyfor stage, while in 1981 a six-episode television series was produced for BBC Two.It featured many of the same actors who had voiced the original radio show, including Simon Jones as Arthur Dent.

Hitchhiker’s went from the small screen to big screen in 2005, which saw the first feature film adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with Martin Freeman taking on the role of Arthur Dent. Douglas Adams co-wrote the screenplay with Karey Kirkpatrick, but sadly passed away before production began.

And there are even plans for a new series on streaming service Hulu in 2021.

Each iteration ofThe Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxyis slightly different from the last, even when Douglas Adams was responsible. This just makes the journey all the more exciting though, with new twists and turns around every corner.

All we need now is a West End musical (fingers crossed).

What is the answer to life, the universe and everything?

But what does the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything mean? Just like readers of the series had to, I’ve made you wait. And really, if you are planning to hop on in and discover the joys of Douglas Adams’ universe yourself you might want to stop reading here. If you’re a little on the impatient side, however, just be warned there are spoilers ahead.

When our reluctant band of adventurers first learn that the answer they sought was simply two digits they were as stumped as readers. What on earth did 42 mean? How could that be the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything? Well, as the supercomputer Deep Thought informs them, that isn’t a question at all, and until they know the question, they will never understand the answer. Deep.

The question itself is finally uncovered inThe Restaurant at the End of the Universewhen Arthur pulls a series of seemingly random scrabble tiles out of a bag to read: ‘what do you get when you multiply six by nine?’ Well, if you have a calculator handy then you’ll know you definitely don’t get 42. It’s all just one great big joke. The book, the story, the universe itself? You’ll have to be the judge of that.

What should I read after The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?

It might take you a while but once you’ve read everythingHitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxywhy not check out thebest sci-fi books of 2021. Or try these:

What do a dead cat, a computer whiz-kid, an Electric Monk who believes the world is pink, quantum mechanics, a Chronologist over two hundred years old, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (poet), and pizza have in common? Apparently not much; until Dirk Gently, self-styled private investigator, sets out to prove the fundamental interconnectedness of all things by solving a mysterious murder, assisting a mysterious professor, unravelling a mysterious mystery, and eating a lot of pizza – not to mention saving the entire human race from extinction along the way (at no extra charge).

When a passenger check-in desk at Terminal Two, Heathrow Airport, shot up through the roof engulfed in a ball of orange flame, the usual people tried to claim responsibility. First the IRA, then the PLO and the Gas Board. Even British Nuclear Fuels rushed out a statement to the effect that the situation was completely under control, that it was a one in a million chance, that there was hardly any radioactive leakage at all and that the site of the explosion would make a nice location for a day out with the kids and a picnic, before finally having to admit that it wasn't actually anything to do with them at all. No rational cause could be found for the explosion – it was simply designated an act of God. But, thinks Dirk Gently, which God? And why? What God would be hanging around Terminal Two of Heathrow Airport trying to catch the 15:37 to Oslo?

This sublime collection dips into the wit and wisdom of the man behindThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, uncovering his unique comic musings on everything from his school-trousers to malt whisky and from the letter Y through to his own nose, via atheism, hangovers and fried eggs. These hilarious collected writings reveal the warmth, enthusiasm and ferocious intelligence behind this most English of comic writers; a man who was virtually an unofficial member of the Monty Python team.

Don't miss Book Break's guide to everything you need to know aboutThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

The ultimate guide to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books, universe and everything (2024)


The ultimate guide to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books, universe and everything? ›

The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide: Five Complete Novels and One Story (Deluxe Edition) Video Player is loading. This is a modal window.

How many books are in the Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide? ›

The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide: Five Complete Novels and One Story (Deluxe Edition) Video Player is loading. This is a modal window.

What is the ultimate answer to everything in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? ›

The number 42 is not a particularly significant number in base 13. However, in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 42 is Deep Thought's answer to "the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything." Deep Thought is a fictional supercomputer built for that very purpose in the book.

Why was the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy banned? ›

Books get banned for all number of reasons, but Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has been banned in one Canadian school for use of the word "whor*," and from several various public and school libraries in the US for innapropriate language and questioning/bashing of religion.

What does 42 mean in the meaning of life? ›

The number 42 is, in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, the "Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything", calculated by an enormous supercomputer named Deep Thought over a period of 7.5 million years.

In what order should I read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? ›

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books in order
  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. ...
  6. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Illustrated Edition.
May 13, 2022

Why is the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie so different from the book? ›

One of the most noticeable changes in the film was the continuous presence of the Vogons, a truly unpleasant species with an absurd devotion to bureaucratic order. In the book, they are Arthur's first introduction to a truly alien species and serve as a way for Ford and Arthur to get on to the Heart of Gold.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Jeremiah Abshire

Last Updated:

Views: 5373

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (74 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Jeremiah Abshire

Birthday: 1993-09-14

Address: Apt. 425 92748 Jannie Centers, Port Nikitaville, VT 82110

Phone: +8096210939894

Job: Lead Healthcare Manager

Hobby: Watching movies, Watching movies, Knapping, LARPing, Coffee roasting, Lacemaking, Gaming

Introduction: My name is Jeremiah Abshire, I am a outstanding, kind, clever, hilarious, curious, hilarious, outstanding person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.