“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams is one of the most iconic, cult novels of all time. It came out in 1979, and I’ve known about it for as long as I can remember. However, for whatever reason, I’d never read this relatively short, but influential, novel, which is why I added it to my “bucket list” several years ago.
For those of you unfamiliar with this novel, it’s about the galactic misadventures of Arthur Dent, a sort of every-man who is snatched away from Earth just before it is destroyed by the Vogons, a dimwitted alien race constructing an expressway through outer space. Dent's main companion is Ford Perfect, who is somewhat of a journalist tasked with updating “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” While this guide, from which the novel takes its name, may sound like a book, it’s actually a computerized travel guide that details various locations throughout the galaxy.
After their timely departure from Earth, Dent and Perfect encounter a wide variety of alien beings including Zaphod Beeblebrox (the President of the Galaxy), Marvin (the Paranoid Android) and Slartibarfast (who designs planets). Dent and his companions also get to ride on the Heart of Gold, which is sort of the novel’s answer to the Millennium Falcon, and they visit the legendary planet of Magrathea, which is kind of like the lost continent of Atlantis, except on a galactic scale. All along the way, they ponder the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.” The answer, by the way, is “42.”
The edition of the novel that I read was the 2005, movie tie-in Del Rey mass market paperback edition. This book was 309 pages long, but the actual novel was only 216 pages long. The rest of the book was an afterward that detailed how the motion picture version of the novel came to be. In a few short words, I thought it was great and everything I expected it to be.
Many of you may be familiar with this book thanks to motion picture version of the novel that came out in 2005. Released in the U.S. on April 29, 2005, this movie was directed by Garth Jennings and starred Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent, Mos Def as Ford Perfect and Sam Rockwell as Zaphod Beeblebrox. It’s been a while since I’ve seen this movie, but I do plan to re-watch it now that I’ve finally read the novel.
Of course, now that I’ve read “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” I’m left wanting to read all of the sequels. It should come as no surprise that the “Guide” is the first installment in a weird “trilogy of five books.” The other books in the series include “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). I'll definitely be adding those books to my "bucket list" next year.
In the end, how many of you have read “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”? What did you think about it? Did you like it or not? Let us know in the comments section below.