cover artBibliographic Information
Title: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Author: Douglas Adams
ISBN: 978-0345391803
Publisher: Random House
Copyright: 1979

Book Details
Formats: Hardcover, paperback. Numerous versions have been published since the original, with different covers, designs, and page counts.
Page Count: 224 p.

Plot Summary

The plot is somewhat difficult to summarize; this is a comical satire of science-fiction TV shows. It really has no plot. Arthur Dent, a rather nebbish Englishman, is warned, and rescued, by an alien named Ford Prefect just before Earth is utterly destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Arthur and Ford hitch-hike around the galaxy, where they encounter numerous types of aliens, robots, and other oddities. They are forced to endure Vogon poetry, a brilliant but utterly depressed robot, dimly-prescient elevators, and space ships based on “Bistro Drive”.

The book was an underground success and first, then became more commercially successful as well. There are four sequels.

Critical Evaluation

It’s extremely funny, and full of sly references to 1970s and 1980s popular culture. Adams initally wrote it as a sort of stress-relief from his day job of grinding out daily radio sci-fi program scripts, HG2G is full of every oddball joke and cliff-hanger cliche he couldn’t use in the show. It reflects Adam’s properly-English sense of irony.

Radio and film adaptations have been uneven; Adam’s wild imagination conjures ideas and scenes better left to the reader to imagine than the Hollywood special-effects teams to create.

Reader’s Annotation

“Don’t Panic” – and find out why you should always take a towel when you travel.

Information about the Author

Douglas Adams was an English writer, humorist, and dramatist, best known as the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He also wrote Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, and co-wrote The Meaning of Liff, The Deeper Meaning of Liff, Last Chance to See, and three stories for the television series Doctor Who. Adams died of a heart attack on 11 May 2001, aged 49. A posthumous collection of his work was published as The Salmon of Doubt in 2002.

Adams attended Primrose Hill Primary School in Brentwood. At nine, he passed the entrance exam for Brentwood School, an independent school. He attended school from 1959 to 1964, then the main school until December 1970. He studied English at St John’s College, Cambridge. After leaving university Adams moved back to London, determined to break into TV and radio as a writer. Adams was “discovered” by Monty Python’s Graham Chapman. The two formed a brief writing partnership, earning Adams exposure and experience.

After Python, Adams’s career stalled; his writing style was unsuited to the current style of radio and TV comedy. To make ends meet he took a series of odd jobs. During this time Adams continued to write and submit sketches, though few were accepted. Depressed, Adams moved to live with his mother.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was a concept for a science-fiction comedy radio series pitched by Adams and radio producer Simon Brett to BBC Radio 4 in 1977. Once it became successful, he continued to write for it, but also used his odd sense of improbably circumstance and comedy into other literary genres, such as crime novels.

Adams became known as an advocate for environmentalism and conservation, and also as a lover of fast cars, cameras, technological innovation, and the Apple Macintosh.

Genre
Science fiction, humor

Curriculum Ties
What makes a good travelogue.

Booktalking ideas
Travelogue or Science Fiction

Reading Level/Interest Age
Interest Level: Age 12 and up

Challenge Issues
Sex, drugs, improbable behavior

 

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