Douglas Adams’ bibliography
• THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY (1979)
First book from the Galactic Guide, and Douglas’s first novel, “The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” (Pan Books, October 1979) received instant acclaim. Relying on the success of the radio series’ first six episodes broadcast by the BBC the previous year, the book will go on to sell 250 000 copies only three months after its release in the UK.
The book is based on the first four episodes of the radio play, but it modifies and completes the original story. Amongst the new material is added detail about the Heart Of Gold’ stealing by Zaphod, only briefly evoked in the radio version.
The book starts off with the destruction of Earth and ends with the escape from Magrathea and its psychopathic mice, and the heroes arriving at the Restaurant At The End Of The Universe.
In 1994, A great illustrated computer made version of the first book was made by Kevin Davies (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
• THE RESTAURANT AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE (1981)
In October 1981 Pan Books publishes the second tome of the Galactic Guide books, this one named “The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe”. Again it is a huge success and many, including Douglas Adams himself, consider this book to be the best of the series.
This volume is mostly based on the fifth and sixth episodes of radio season one, but brings many alterations. The most important is certainly the replacement of the mutant Haggunennons incident by the improbable Disaster Area, universe’s loudest rock band and who’s leader is temporarily dead for fiscal reasons. Another delightful addition is the Dish of the Day.
“The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe” begins with the Vogon attack on the Heart Of Gold from which the heroes managed to escape by improvising a mystical seance. Whilst Zaphod and Marvin find themselves projected into the Guide’s editor offices, the others find themselves at The Restaurant and then later again with Zaphod inside Improbable Disaster Area’s suicide ship. The novel ends with Arthur and Ford returning to Earth a few million years previous to its destruction.
• LIFE, THE UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING (1982)
“Life, The Universe And Everything” is published in 1982, again by Pan Books. It turns out to be a complete surprise as it takes a very different angle to what happens in the radio series’ second season, and the tone is quite different to that of the first two novels. Douglas Adams used an intrigue he had imagined for an episode of the Dr. Who series, a project he had worked on at the BBC as a producer. In actual fact, Adams had not wanted to write this third book and that feeling comes though the writing, although there are several great ideas. Nevertheless this book went on to sell over a million copies in the UK, just like its two predecessors.
This third novel opens where the second left off with Ford and Arthur, prisoners of a prehistoric Earth. They manage to leave by hanging on to a couch which projects them back two million years into the future! They appear in the middle of a cricket match where they meet the killer Krikkit robots. Arthur and Ford are going to chase them across the universe with the help of Slartibartfast whom they had met on Magrathea. At the end of the novel, they save the universe and Arthur hears about “God’s final message to His creation” for the first time.
• THE MEANING OF LIFF (1983)
Pan Books publishes this Douglas Adams book in 1983, and it is his first that does not delve into the “Hitchhiker’s guide” universe. Co-written with John Lloyd who also helped out with the radio Hith-Hiker’s Guide, “The Meaning Of Liff” is truly unique. It is a list of place names taken from all over the world and picked for their consonances. The authors then set out to divert the meanings and use the words to express feelings and emotions to which there were no words for up until then! This book is an absurd dictionary and the maps, drawings, index that accompany the definitions help that feeling along.
Bizarrely enough, this book was even published in the US and was translated into German, Finish and Dutch!
A newer version completed with more words was published in 1990, titled “The Deeper Meaning Of Liff”.
• SO LONG AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH (1984)
Fourth in the Hitch-Hiker novel series, “So Long And Thanks For All The Fish” is published in 1984. This is the first of the books to be published first as a hardback edition. The other three came out directly in paperback.
This time the story is mostly set on Earth and features a romantic angle as most of the novel deals with Arthur’s love for a young lady improbably named Fenchurch.
This instalment was a disappointment to many fans, especially since Marvin the android makes only a brief appearance only to die shortly afterwards. In my opinion though, the book is a success for its humour and good ideas: we learn more of the dolphins’ mysterious disappearance from Earth only minutes before its destruction and we discover God’s final message to His creation.
• DIRK GENTLY’S HOLISTIC DETECTIVE AGENCY (1987)
Although still in a comical approach, Douglas Adams leaves the Hitchhiker’s Guide space theme altogether with this 1987 novel. The adventures of Dirk Gently, an eccentric detective with near para-normal methods that are as funny as they are twisted. We encounter electric monks, the poet Coleridge, Bach, a computer geek, pizzas and much more! The book has been promoted as “a detective -ghost-horror-whodunnit-time-travel-romantic-epic”. In fact it’s a good description of the book.
The end of the book is particularly obscure and has led the fans (and Douglas himslef!) to the wildest interpretations.
It was Douglas’ first non Hitchhiker book. Douglas Adams got a 575.000 pound sterling advance from his UK editors and 2.7 million dollars from his US editors before having even written the first line! The book was a bestseller.
The subject was not totally new. As he already did for Life, the universe and everything, again Douglas unearthed more of his Dr. Who ideas for this novel (this time mainly from his famous unaired episode Shada).
• THE LONG DARK TEA TIME OF SOUL (1988)
This is the second of the Dirk Gently adventures featuring the strangest detective on Earth, the Devil, Thor, yet more pizzas, an airport, evil advertising executives, an American woman stranded in London and a pop song (Hot Potato) that makes more sense than it may at first appear.
Once again, this is a big success, and this second novel is decisive in helping Douglas Adams break free of his Hitchhiker’s Guide name tag. The originality of this new series resides without a doubt in an improbable but talented mix of genres (science fiction, detective, mystery, romance, horror, romance) under the rallying banner of humour.
• LAST CHANCE TO SEE (1990)
“Last Chance To See” was published in 1990 and is yet another unexpected book in Douglas Adams’ bibliography. For many it is his very best work.
We follow Douglas who travels across the globe with zoologist Mark Cawardine in search for endangered animal species. This may seem fairly dull to many, but as always Douglas turns it into a great read, very funny and fascinating from the first to the last page.
This book will stay unknown to most of the public even though it received great critical success. Indeed, many readers were not interested for the only reason that it is not a fictional book, which is a great pity. Maybe with time and ever growing pressure on the world’s environment, “Last Chance To See” will rightfully claim its readership.
In parallel to the book, Douglas Adams also recorded a radio series for the BBC on this same theme. A multimedia CD-Rom version of “Last Chance” was also released, featuring Douglas reading the book’s text whilst a beautiful photographic slide show illustrates (the CD-Rom includes 800 photographies).
• MOSTLY HARMLESS (1992)
A year late, Heinemann publishes the fifth Hitch-Hiker book in October 1992. “Mostly Harmless” will only be finished thanks to the tenacious commitment of its editor who did not hesitate to lock up the author in a hotel room so that he could get the work done. Douglas Adams had a history for struggling to finish within deadlines.
This instalment sees our heroes in their darkest and strangest times, and although part of the series it is the least Hitchhikers-like. Marvin, Fenchurch and Zaphod have all disappeared, and the Hicth-Hiker story is processed through parallel universes. Adams concentrates on Arthur’s becoming as he has lost Fenchurch but finds a Tricia MacMillan who did not choose to leave that infamous Islington party with Zaphod as she had initially done in the first book. Arthur also meets with their daughter Random! As for Ford, he discovers a top secret version of the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. At the end, they all find themselves on Earth for an unhappy closure.
This fairly dark novel has nonetheless some very funny parts, like when Arthur finds himself opening a sandwich shop on a remote planet.
Many fans hoped for a sixth novel to the series to counter the down note brought by the fifth novel. Unfortunately, it will never be.
• THE SALMON OF DOUBT (2002)
Published in May 2002, exactly one year after Douglas Adams’ death, “The Salmon Of Doubt” pays a beautiful homage to the intelligence and personality of this great author.
Included are a few chapters of the eponymous unfinished novel on which Douglas had been working on for six years! This novel existed in three forms, one of which resembled much to that of the Guide To The Galaxy. The editor chose to publish only the more complete though, a version featuring Dirk Gently.
The book also includes many short stories and essays that were previously scattered, some of Douglas’ speeches (notably the famous “Is there an artificial God?”). Also included are the only two short stories based on the Hitch-Hiker universe: “Young Zaphod Plays It Safe” and, although slightly further astray from the main Guide storyline, “The Private Life Of Genghis Khan” (this last text has been retired from the reprints because it was based on a sketch co-written by Monty Python Graham Chapman, but it’s still avalaible on Douglas official website).