The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for Beginners

Arthur Dent and Marvin in The Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy movie adaptation (2005)

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, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects. First, it is slightly cheaper; and second, it has the words “DON’T PANIC” inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.

Douglas Adams

The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy (H2G2 I)

Douglas Adams created “The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy” as a six part radio series for the BBC (Radio 4) at the end of the seventies. Douglas was then a 25 years old absolute anonymous, if you except a not very productive collaboration with Graham Chapman (of Monty Pythons’ fame).

“The Hitch Hiker’s guide to the galaxy” was the first attempt to make some SF radio comedy with great sound effects (Douglas wanted Hitch-Hiker’s to “sound like a rock album”).

When the first series was broadcasted between march and april 1978, it became quickly a huge success. “By the time of the first three or four episodes the place has gone absolutly mad. I think six publishing companies rang up, and four record companies” told John Lloyd (co-writer of episodes 5 and 6) to Neil Gaiman years later (in “Don’t panic”/Titan books).

A seventh episode, the Christmas special, was broadcasted at the end of 1978. A second series has even been recorded : five new episodes were aired at the begining of 1980. This five episodes contain a lot of exclusive material that will never be used again in the following versions of the guide (as the planet Brontitall).

But “the hitchhiker’s to the galaxy” is not just a radio series (even if it’s one of the best you’ll ever hear). It’s also five books written by Douglas, a text based computer game from 1982, an official towel, a six part tv series from the BBC, some DC comics, some successfull LPs, several plays, an illustrated book, a still very active fan community, and soon a movie!!

> But what is this damn story really about ?

Well it’s difficult to summarize H2g2. But let’s try to make an introduction. This is an attempt to write an introduction to story of h2g2, story which sometimes contradict themselves.

It’s the story of a perfectly ordinary human being from England called Arthur Dent. One morning, he finds himself lying in front of a huge yellow bulldozer because a man from the local council, called Prosser, is trying to drive a bypass through his house. While Arthur is arguing with Prosser, his old friend Ford Prefect turns up, brings Arthur in a pub, and tells him that he’s not from Guilford after all, but from a small planet in the vicinity of Betelgeuse! His real job is researcher for an odd book as popular as inacurate, “The hitch-hiker’s guide to the galaxy”. Even more important, the earth is going to be destroyed by the evil Vogons to build a hyperspace express route.

Thanks to Ford, Arthur is going to flee from earth a few seconds before the vogon ships beams of demolition are energized. In fact Arthur and Ford got a lift, and are now in the Vogons construction ship! They will now have to face Vogon poetry, dying in the vacuum of space, the strange logic of the Infinite Improbability Drive, happy doors, the Ravenous Bugblatter beast of Trall, towels, a sperm whale, mice, humane cops, hairdressers…

They also will have to find the question to the ultimate answer of the life, the universe and everything (the answer being 42). They will be helped in their quest by the infamous part-time galactic president Zaphod Breeblebrox, the maniaco depressive robot Marvin and the quite pretty and intelligent girl whose name is Trillian and who also escaped from earth a short time before the earth got destroyed.

> More about the Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy


– “Dont’ panic – Douglas Adams And The “Hitch-hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” (Neil Gaiman, Titan Books, 4th edition 2009)

– “The Pocket Essential Hitchhiker’s guide” (MJ Simpson, Pocket Essentials, first edition 2001, second edition 2005)

– “The Rough Guide to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy (Marcus O’Dair, 2009, Rough Guides)

– “The Hitchhiker’s Guid to the Galaxy Radio Scripts” (Douglas Adams &Geoffrey Perkins ,Pan, 1st edition 1985)

– “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Radio Scripts: The Tertiary, Quandary and Quintessential Phases, v. 2” (Dirk Maggs, Pan, 2005)

– “The Science of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (Michael Hanlon, Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)

– “The Anthology at the End of the Universe: Leading Science Fiction Authors on Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (edited by Glenn Yeffeth, Benbella Books, 2005)


– “The Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy” Michael Bywater (in “British Comedy Greats”, Cassell Illustrated, 2003)

– “Countertpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor in The Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy” MJ Simpson (in “British Science Fiction Television”, IB Tauris, 2006)

– Special forewords for the 30th anniversary editions : Russel T. Davies for H2G2 part 1, Terry Jones for H2G2 par 2, Simon Brett for H2G2 part 3, Neil Gaiman for H2G2 part 4, Dirk Maggs for H2G2 part 5 (Pan, 2009)