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The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

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Overview

At last in paperback in one complete volume, here are the five classic novels from Douglas Adams’s beloved Hitchiker series.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Seconds before the Earth is demolished for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is saved by Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised Guide. Together they stick out their thumbs to the...
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Overview

At last in paperback in one complete volume, here are the five classic novels from Douglas Adams’s beloved Hitchiker series.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Seconds before the Earth is demolished for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is saved by Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised Guide. Together they stick out their thumbs to the stars and begin a wild journey through time and space.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Facing annihilation at the hands of warmongers is a curious time to crave tea. It could only happen to the cosmically displaced Arthur Dent and his comrades as they hurtle across the galaxy in a desperate search for a place to eat.

Life, the Universe and Everything
The unhappy inhabitants of planet Krikkit are sick of looking at the night sky– so they plan to destroy it. The universe, that is. Now only five individuals can avert Armageddon: mild-mannered Arthur Dent and his stalwart crew.

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
Back on Earth, Arthur Dent is ready to believe that the past eight years were all just a figment of his stressed-out imagination. But a gift-wrapped fishbowl with a cryptic inscription conspires to thrust him back to reality. So to speak.

Mostly Harmless
Just when Arthur Dent makes the terrible mistake of starting to enjoy life, all hell breaks loose. Can he save the Earth from total obliteration? Can he save the Guide from a hostile alien takeover? Can he save his daughter from herself?

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“WITH DROLL WIT, A KEEN EYE FOR DETAIL AND HEAVY DOSES OF INSIGHT . . . ADAMS MAKES US LAUGH UNTIL WE CRY.”
–San Diego Union

“LIVELY, SHARPLY SATIRICAL, BRILLIANTLY WRITTEN . . . RANKS WITH THE BEST SET PIECES IN MARK TWAIN.”
–The Atlantic
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345453747
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/30/2002
  • Series: Hitchhiker's Guide Series
  • Edition description: First Ballantine Books Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 832
  • Sales rank: 97
  • Product dimensions: 6.11 (w) x 9.17 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Read an Excerpt

What Was He Like,
Douglas Adams?

He was tall, very tall. He had an air of cheerful diffidence. He combined a razor-sharp intellect and understanding of what he was doing with the puzzled look of someone who had backed into a profession that surprised him in a world that perplexed him. And he gave the impression that, all in all, he was rather enjoying it.

He was a genius, of course. It’s a word that gets tossed around a lot these days, and it’s used to mean pretty much anything. But Douglas was a genius, because he saw the world differently, and more importantly, he could communicate the world he saw. Also, once you’d seen it his way you could never go back.

Douglas Noel Adams was born in 1952 in Cambridge, England (shortly before the announcement of an even more influential DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid). He was a self-described “strange child” who did not learn to speak until he was four. He wanted to be a nuclear physicist (“I never made it because my arithmetic was so bad”), then went to Cambridge to study English, with ambitions that involved becoming part of the tradition of British writer/performers (of which the members of Monty Python’s
Flying Circus are the best-known example).

When he was eighteen, drunk in a field in Innsbruck, hitchhiking across
Europe, he looked up at the sky filled with stars and thought, “Somebody ought to write the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Then he went to sleep and almost, but not quite, forgot all about it.

He left Cambridge in 1975 and went to London where his many writ-ing and performing projects tended, in the main, not to happen. He worked with former Python Graham Chapman writing scripts and sketches for abortive projects (among them a show for Ringo Starr which contained the germ of Starship Titanic) and with writer-producer John Lloyd
(they pitched a series called Snow Seven and the White Dwarfs, a comedy about two astronomers in “an observatory on Mt. Everest–“The idea for that was minimum casting, minimum set, and we’d just try to sell the series on cheapness”).

He liked science fiction, although he was never a fan. He supported himself through this period with a variety of odd jobs: he was, for example,
a hired bodyguard for an oil-rich Arabian family, a job that entailed wearing a suit and sitting in hotel corridors through the night listening to the ding of passing elevators.

In 1977 BBC radio producer (and well-known mystery author) Simon
Brett commissioned him to write a science fiction comedy for BBC Radio
Four. Douglas originally imagined a series of six half-hour comedies called The Ends of the Earth–funny stories which at the end of each, the world would end. In the first episode, for example, the Earth would be destroyed to make way for a cosmic freeway.

But, Douglas soon realized, if you are going to destroy the Earth, you need someone to whom it matters. Someone like a reporter for, yes, the
Hitchchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. And someone else . . . a man who was called Alaric B in Douglas’s original proposal. At the last moment Douglas crossed out Alaric B and wrote above it Arthur Dent. A normal name for a normal man.

For those people listening to BBC Radio 4 in 1978 the show came as a revelation. It was funny–genuinely witty, surreal, and smart. The series was produced by Geoffrey Perkins, and the last two episodes of the first series were co-written with John Lloyd.

(I was a kid who discovered the series–accidentally, as most listeners did–with the second episode. I sat in the car in the driveway, getting cold, listening to Vogon poetry, and then the ideal radio line “Ford,
you’re turning into an infinite number of penguins,” and I was happy;
perfectly, unutterably happy.)

By now, Douglas had a real job. He was the script editor for the long-running
BBC SF series Doctor Who, in the Tom Baker days.

Pan Books approached him about doing a book based on the radio series,
and Douglas got the manuscript for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the
Galaxy
in to his editors at Pan slightly late (according to legend they telephoned him and asked, rather desperately, where he was in the book, and how much more he had to go. He told them. “Well,” said his editor,
making the best of a bad job, “just finish the page you’re on and we’ll send a motorbike around to pick it up in half an hour”). The book, a paperback original, became a surprise bestseller, as did, less surprisingly, its four sequels. It spawned a bestselling text-based computer game.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy sequence used the tropes of science fiction to talk about the things that concerned Douglas, the world he observed, his thoughts on Life, the Universe, and Everything. As we moved into a world where people really did think that digital watches were a pretty neat thing, the landscape had become science fiction and
Douglas, with a relentless curiosity about matters scientific, an instinct for explanation, and a laser-sharp sense of where the joke was, was in a perfect position to comment upon, to explain, and to describe that landscape.

I read a lengthy newspaper article recently demonstrating that Hitchhiker’s
was in fact a lengthy tribute to Lewis Carroll (something that would have come as a surprise to Douglas, who had disliked the little of
Alice in Wonderland he read). Actually, the literary tradition that Douglas was part of was, at least initially, the tradition of English Humor Writing that gave us P. G. Wodehouse (whom Douglas often cited as an influence,
although most people tended to miss it because Wodehouse didn’t write about spaceships).

Douglas Adams did not enjoy writing, and he enjoyed it less as time went on. He was a bestselling, acclaimed, and much-loved novelist who had not set out to be a novelist, and who took little joy in the process of crafting novels. He loved talking to audiences. He liked writing screenplays.
He liked being at the cutting edge of technology and inventing and explaining with an enthusiasm that was uniquely his own. Douglas’s ability to miss deadlines became legendary. (“I love deadlines,” he said once. “I love the whooshing sound they make as they go by.”)

He died in May 2001–too young. His death surprised us all, and left a huge, Douglas Adams—sized hole in the world. We had lost both the man
(tall, affable, smiling gently at a world that baffled and delighted him)
and the mind.

He left behind a number of novels, as often-imitated as they are, ultimately,
inimitable. He left behind characters as delightful as Marvin the
Paranoid Android, Zaphod Beeblebrox and Slartibartfast. He left sentences that will make you laugh with delight as they rewire the back of your head.

And he made it look so easy.

–Neil Gaiman,
January 2002

(Long before Neil Gaiman was the bestselling author of novels like American Gods and
Neverwhere
, or graphic novels like The Sandman sequence, he wrote a book called Don’t
Panic
, a history of Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.)

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 994 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(781)

4 Star

(134)

3 Star

(44)

2 Star

(16)

1 Star

(19)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 999 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2002

    DON'T PANIC! Mice rule the universe, but you've still got your towel!

    I discovered HGTTG years ago and loved it. I recently found the five-part trilogy bound in one volume, and decided to re-read what I thought had been the best send-up of science fiction ever written. I was right. Beginning with an unlikely starship crew consisting of a two-headed, fugitive Galactic President, a burned-out travel writer, a paranoid android, (who parks cars for 5 billion years while waiting to be rescued) a mysterious beauty, and the last survivor of the late planet Earth, (which was destroyed to make way for a galactic freeway) Douglas Adams has managed to incorporate every science fiction cliche known to man or Vogon. However, unlike most writers of SF, he does not take himself or his subject too seriously. The result is a universe of marvelous silliness and deliciously ditzy characters who zoom along on their improbability drive, carrying their towels, drinking Pan Galactic Gargleblasters, while trying to avoid having a Vogon poetry read at them, or meeting up with the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal. My suggestion? Buy the book, lock yourself in your room, and read it--preferably on the floor, because that's where you'll end up anyway--unless you're the type who still thinks digital watches are pretty neat things.

    32 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    WOW

    I loved the movie when it first came out. I was awe-struck as the credits were rolling up. Now that was a great story and even better presentation. I was really excited to get the book to find out the whole story. If you read this you must read the foreword and the introduction first. You have to realize that the film was just an adaptation of the 'real story'. I immediately fell in love with the writing style of Douglas Adams. You really do need a good sense of humor to get through it, because it is laugh after laugh but in the style of Douglas Adams. There is also romance, action, and great characters.

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2011

    My Favorite Book!

    If you like British style humor and are scientifically minded, this book is a must. Then again, if you don't appreciate laughing out loud when you read a book, this isn't for you.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2002

    The Most Complete Guide Collection Ever...

    Finally in paperback, the complete five volume trilogy. I was very excited when this title came on the market, and my joy did not diminish as I plunged headfirst into this wealth of Hitchhiker's Guide print, not for the first time, but for the 18th. Still, you don't have to be a HHGTTG veteran to get on board with this...it quite simply is 5 books with one cover. I promise you, wether you've read the Hitchhiker series. Dirk Gently or The Salmon of doubt you can appreciate the beauty (but mosltly humor) of this writing. I thouroughly enjoy it, and encourage you to read it also.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 11, 2011

    Made for the Nook.

    What can I say this is one of the all time classic Humor books over the past 30 years. May not be for all taste. But if you are looking for a good Science Fiction/Monty Python/Dr. Who type story this is for you. When I first heard about these new fangled things called E-Readers this book came to mind, and was the First book I put onto my Nook Color. To tell any of the story would be to spoil the read. Here in one Book is the compleate Trilogy of 5 books. There is a sixth book but that is sold sepreatly. So sit back and enjoy and remember your Towel.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2005

    WOOO HOOOO!!!!

    Hey you sass that hoopy Douglas Adams? There's a frood who really knows where his towel is!! You must read this book. If you can't laugh at this there's just no point anymore.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 23, 2011

    Universally Renown Masterpiece

    Ever wonder why man is on earth? Is there life beyond this Earth? What is so important about the number 42?

    These questions highlight Douglas Adams', Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which is the fun and riveting tale of Arthur Dent, an average human life form from the average United Kingdom of the average planet Earth. A simple man with simple needs, Arthur has never marked his life with anything extraordinary until the day the city decided to tear down his house for the construction of a new bypass. On this same day, Ford Prefect pays Arthur a visit. Here begins Arthur's great adventure across the universe and back, literally.

    Adams' takes the age old question, "Why are we here?" And presents his answer in the form of a thrilling adventure through the stars. The first installment of this quest is the critically acclaimed novel, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. His witty dialogue and good old British dry humor make the novel a classic. He brilliantly blends seriousness with complete silliness, a ploy that so rarely works in modern literature. Adams creates a bizarre and crazy story, and then makes it crazier and more nutty than imaginable. His aliens come from the deep recesses of his imagination, and even they do not believe its craziness. It seems that this out of control book is not appealing, but there is an endearing quality about it. Its acceptance of craziness is almost too lovable to deny, and for this reason, this nutty space adventure is a must read for men, woman, aliens, and robots of all ages.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2013

    Classic!

    This is - bar none - my favorite series of books. If you have a "Monty Python" sense of humor, throw in a ton of space travel and aliens and you have the phenomenal classic: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:-)

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2012

    Read this or you'll lose a huge amount of fun.

    If you are not obsessed with logical and perfect storylines, this book is absolutely a modern classic that you just HAVE to read! That's all you need to know.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 24, 2012

    Shouldn't have liked it but couldn't help it.

    I'm not gonna lie. The first time I read this book (well, this series) was to make my dad happy. He kept going on and on and on about it with all of the references. So a couple of years before the movie came out, I read it. Boy, was I missing out not having read it earlier!

    This is a great British humor book. It's got just enough details for the cerebral and enough ridiculousness to make you chuckle. Almost ALL of it is younger-viewer-friendly humor and that's probably half of the fun of it. For as serious as some of the topics are, they're never treated with half of the intensity as a typical person would have over receiving the wrong order at a fast food restaurant. It's all light. It's all random. It's completely hinged to the unreal while simultaneously tacked to reality.

    There are, as with all books, some parts you could have lived without. I will say, though, that with all books in the series that the parts I cared to live without were never the same as the ones as others did. "Oh, you really didn't like that? I loved it! I didn't like ____." That's almost always the conversation you're going to have about the downsides. You'll also be surprised how much more you'll love the series after you start talking about it with someone else.

    Seriously, though, at least give the first book a shot. You'll know in the first chapter if you hate it. My reaction to novelty isn't the best but this was just novel enough while tempered enough to make an odd sort of sense while providing an odd sort of adventure.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2012

    Best ever!

    No need to say more.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2012

    Awesome

    Im 11 and its a little hard to understand at parts, other than that..... its a freakishly awesome book! Really funny if you understand that kind of humor.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2010

    For your consideration

    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is arguably one of the best science fiction books of the 21st Century; sadly, I did not feel the same way. Even though I do not enjoy reading science fiction books, this book would have been awful even if it was not science fiction. It is rambling/ repetitive, the wording is confusing, and the plot is all over the place. I believe that they should have given the reader a guidebook for the story when they bought it, so that they could find their way through the different tangents that the story alludes to throughout the storyline. I am actually regretting buying the book. One positive thing about this book is that it is a quick read and it had some witty parts.

    4 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2013

    Very interesting, and a good read.

    For all sci-fi fans. (Slartibartfast and Zaphod Beeblebrox FTW!) Also, don't waste money getting each book seperately. Get this one instead.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2013

    42

    I loved this book, so very fun!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2013

    DO NOT PANIC

    H2G2-A fantastic an explosive opening sends a lover of tea, a hitchhiking reporter, a president of the galaxy, a girl, and a maniacally depressed robot from the smoking remains of the Earth on a quest for the meaning of life. Hiijinks ensue.

    Restaurant-Desperate to not meet the ruler of the universe, Zaphod drags the gang to the end of the universe... To find a bite to eat. Also, Arthur almost dooms them all to destruction to get a cup of tea

    LUE-The gang is now sent to stop a perfectly pleasant alien race that as one small problem - they don't like the idea of a Universe. So, logically, these aliens want to get rid of it.

    SoLong-The Earth pops back into existence and Arthur gets a girlfriend. Something must be wrong with th Universe... Let's make fun of humanity!

    MostlyHarmless-The Guide is taken over. The Earth is about to go boom once more. Arthur has a daughter. Can he save the day one last time, or will he sit and watch the apocalypse unfold? Let's find out.

    How can you nit love this trilogy?

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2013

    Will always be my favorite

    I have read the whole series. I then purchased the ultimate guide and have read it atleast a dozen times. Whenever I want a good laugh or even something to contemplate this is the first book I pick up.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2013

    .

    .

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2013

    Great book

    Nuce read. Every other sentence blows my mind. Just an amazing series.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 5, 2011

    Pure fun

    The subject says it all. This is a satirical look at the British body politic and how absurd we all are.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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