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Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Books In Order

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Publication Order of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Books

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980)Description / Buy at Amazon
Life, the Universe and Everything (1982)Description / Buy at Amazon
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (1984)Description / Buy at Amazon
Young Zaphod Plays It Safe (1986)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mostly Harmless (1992)Description / Buy at Amazon
Live in Concert (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
And Another Thing... (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Frood (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
Secondary Phase (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon

A science-fiction milestone, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, written by British author Douglas Adams, has been entertaining readers for many years now. Set across a whole range of different mediums, the novels witty take on life, the universe and everything have remained principally the same at their very core. With a story that is not so much beloved by many, as it is inscribed on their memory, it’s kept its overall arc the same throughout its numerous incarnations. Featuring English everyman Arthur Dent, it charts his intergalactic travels across the universe as he unwittingly answers the greatest philosophical questions ever posed, when all that he really wants is to get a quality cup of tea.

Starting as a 1978 BBC radio serial, it soon became a series of five books released between 1979 and 1992. This then became a 1981 television show, followed by a 1984 computer-game, all penned by Adams himself. Finally a 2005 film was released posthumously using early drafts of his script.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

This is the one that started it all when initially released in 1979, subsequent to the 1978 radio show. Originally planned as a trilogy, it soon spanned out over five books due to popular demand. There was also a posthumous sixth novel written by author Eoin Colfer in 2009.

One major pull for this particular series is that of the characters. With a rich, varied and rather eccentric cast it’s easy to see why so many have taken to it. Not only are they memorable, but they offer relatable and likeable personalities as well. Firstly there’s Arthur Dent; the quintessential Englishman who wants nothing more than to locate a decent cup of tea. Wandering the galaxy in his dressing gown, he bears witness to the most wondrous sights in the universe. Instantly recognizable, he’s the main protagonist acting as the conduit into the action. Then there’s his friend Ford Prefect, an eccentric pragmatist who, as it turns out, is actually an alien Hitchhiker’s Guide journalist. It was whilst travelling that he got stranded on Earth, thus allowing him to assume his false identity. Acting as an expository character, he helps to explain the unexplainable.

Morphing throughout the many adaptations, the plot’s ostensibly remained the same. Waking to find his home is getting bulldozed for a bypass, Dent protests. Ford then arrives saying nothing matters as Earth is to be destroyed for an interstellar bypass, as they both hitch a ride with the alien Vogons. Soon they bump into old friends, though, as they go off travelling the universe together. Ford meets his old friend Zaphod Beeblebrox and Dent meets a woman who spurned him at a party once; Trillian. Quickly they learn their meeting wasn’t the coincidence that they originally believe it to be. Running the ‘improbability drive’ for interstellar travel on the spaceship Beeblebrox has stolen, they discover that the improbable becomes probable. This and they’re able to communicate using ‘Babel Fish’ which lodge themselves in the ear feeding on sound, whilst translating alien language. Everything is explained in a fairly tongue-in-cheek style.

As an introduction into the universe of Adams it’s a pleasure for those looking to begin their quest or to simply revisit. Quirky as it is inventive, there’s always more beneath the surface. Setting up the big philosophical questions for the reader, it’s a great opening to an epic series.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Continuing with the misadventures of Arthur Dent and company, this sequel follows directly on. First published in 1980, it was to be second in a ‘trilogy’ charting their travels. With a name inspired by the song ‘Grand Hotel’, though, it was to become a major series.

Using the same characters as before, Adams brings his audience back into recognizable territory. As Arthur Dent returns along with Ford, Zaphod and Trillian, the whole gang are ready to embark on their next installment. Working from the core of the narrative, they build a familiarity. Audience favourites such as Marvin, the Paranoid Android also get more room to develop. With his depressed musings upon the state of the universe, he manages to provide more comic relief, however maudlin. Getting his own substory, he revolves around the adventures of the others continually showing up to help. Then there’s the assortment of characters they meet through Zaphod, who drives much of the story forwards with his insanity. As well known as he is notorious throughout the universe, they constantly find themselves landed in trouble thanks to him. This time though they’re introduced to a relative of his.

Opening with them being attacked by a Vogons after leaving Magrathea, they find themselves rescued. The thing is the person rescuing them is none other than Zaphod Beeblebrox the Fourth; Zaphod’s ancestor. All this thanks to Dent overloading the ship’s computer whilst attempting to create the perfect cup of tea. Concerning the restaurant itself, it features an establishment where people watch the ‘end of everything’. Located in a bubble at the end of time, diners watch it on a loop whilst eating. Seeing the universe explode about them, the restaurant then transports back before the event for the next customers. All this as they continue to answer some of the biggest questions known to humanity yet. Discovering the less than satisfactory origins of mankind, they learn more upon the nature of existence and where they came from. That and where Arthur Dent can get his next cup of tea from.

Leaving on a cliffhanger and setting-up for the sequel, this book follows in much the same vein as the original. Almost episodic in nature, it works well as part of a continuing saga charting their interstellar travels. If audiences enjoyed the first then this will be an all essential read.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Series

With such a well regarded franchise it’s easy to see why it’s so well protected. For instance, the BBC restored the 1984 text adventure game, also by Adams, online for free. Whilst this may not have mass appeal it shows reverence for a legacy that will endure.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

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