The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Novels
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a science fiction comedy series created by Douglas Adams. Originally a radio comedy broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978, it was later adapted to other formats, and over several years it gradually became an international multi-media phenomenon. Adaptations have included stage shows, a series of five books first published between 1979 and 1992 (the first of which was titled The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), a 1981 TV series, a 1984 computer game, and three series of three-part comic book adaptations of the first three novels published by DC Comics between 1993 and 1996. There were also two series of towels, produced by Beer-Davies, that are considered by some fans to be an "official version" of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, as they include text from the first novel. A Hollywood-funded film version, produced and filmed in the UK, was released in April 2005, and adaptations of the last three books to radio were broadcast from 2004 to 2005. Many of these adaptations, including the novels, the TV series, the computer game, and the earliest drafts of the Hollywood film's screenplay, were all done by Adams himself, and some of the stage shows introduced new material written by Adams.
The title The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is often abbreviated "HHGTTG" (as used on fan websites) or "H2G2" (first used by Neil Gaiman as a chapter title in Don't Panic and later by the online guide run by the BBC). The series is also often referred to as "The Hitchhiker's Guide", "Hitchhiker's", or simply "[The] Guide". This title can refer to any of the various incarnations of the story of which the books are the most widely distributed, having been translated into more than 30 languages by 2005. The title can also refer to the fictional guidebook The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, an eccentric electronic encyclopedia prominently featured in the series.
The various versions follow the same basic plot, but they are in many places mutually contradictory, as Adams rewrote the story substantially for each new adaptation. In all versions, the series follows the adventures of Arthur Dent, a hapless Englishman who, with his friend Ford Prefect, an alien from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse and researcher for the eponymous guidebook, escapes the demolition of Earth by a bureaucratic alien race called the Vogons. Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ford's semi-cousin and the Galactic President, unknowingly saves the pair from certain death. He brings them aboard his stolen spaceship, the Heart of Gold, whose crew rounds out the main cast of characters: Marvin, the Paranoid Android, a depressed robot, and Trillian, formerly known as Tricia McMillan, a woman Arthur once met at a party who he soon realises is the only other survivor of Earth's destruction. After this, the characters embark on a quest to find the legendary planet of Magrathea and the Question to the Ultimate Answer.
Origin of The Guide
The first radio series comes from a proposal called 'The Ends of the Earth': six self-contained episodes, all ending with the Earth being destroyed in a different way. While writing the first episode, Adams realised that he needed someone on the planet who was an alien to provide some context, and that this alien needed a reason to be there. Adams finally settled on making the alien a roving researcher for a "wholly remarkable book" named The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. As the first radio episode's writing progressed, the Guide became the centre of his story, and he decided to focus the series on it, with the destruction of Earth being the only hold-over.
Adams claimed that the title came from a 1971 incident while he was hitch-hiking around Europe as a young man with a copy of the Hitch-hiker's Guide to Europe book, and while lying drunk in a field in Innsbruck with a copy of the book and looking up at the stars, thought it would be a good idea for someone to write a hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy as well. However, he later claimed that he had told this story so many times that he had forgotten the incident itself, and only remembered himself telling the story. His friends are quoted as saying that Adams mentioned the idea of "hitch-hiking around the galaxy" to them while on holiday in Greece, in 1973.
Adams's fictional Guide is an electronic guidebook to the Milky Way galaxy, originally published by Megadodo Publications, one of the great publishing houses of Ursa Minor Beta. The narrative of the various versions of the story are frequently punctuated with excerpts from the Guide. The voice of the Guide ( Peter Jones in the first two radio series and TV versions, later William Franklyn in the third, fourth and fifth radio series, and Stephen Fry in the movie version), also provides general narration.
Original radio series
The first radio series of six episodes (called "Fits" after the names of the sections of Lewis Carroll's nonsense poem The Hunting of the Snark) was broadcast in 1978 on BBC Radio 4. Despite a low-key launch of the series (the first episode was broadcast at 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, 8 March 1978), it received generally good reviews and a tremendous audience reaction for radio. A one-off episode (a "Christmas special") was broadcast later in the year. The BBC was in the practice, at the time, of commissioning "Christmas Special" episodes for popular radio series, and while an early draft of this episode of The Hitchhiker's Guide had a Christmas-related plotline, it was decided to be "in slightly poor taste" and the episode as transmitted served as a bridge between the two series. This episode was released as part of the second radio series and, later, The Secondary Phase on cassettes and CDs. The Primary and Secondary Phases were aired, in a slightly edited version, in the United States on NPR Playhouse.
The first series was repeated twice in 1978 alone and many more times in the next few years. This led to an LP re-recording, produced independently of the BBC for sale, and a further adaptation of the series as a book. A second radio series, which consisted of a further five episodes, and bringing the total number of episodes to 12, was broadcast in 1980.
The radio series (and the LP and TV versions) greatly benefited from the narration of noted comedy actor Peter Jones as The Book. He was cast after it was decided that a "Peter-Jonesy" sort of voice was required. His sonorous, avuncular tones undoubtedly gave the series a tremendous boost and firmly established the tenor of the piece.
The series was also notable for its use of sound, being the first comedy series to be produced in stereo. Adams said that he wanted the programme's production to be comparable to that of a modern rock album. Much of the programme's budget was spent on sound effects, which were largely the work of Paddy Kingsland (for the pilot episode and the complete second series) and Dick Mills and Harry Parker (for the remaining episodes (2–6) of the first series). The fact that they were at the forefront of modern radio production in 1978 and 1980 was reflected when the three new series of Hitchhiker's became some of the first radio shows to be mixed into 4 channel Dolby surround. This mix was also featured on DVD releases of the third radio series.
The theme tune used for the radio, television, LP and film versions is "Journey of the Sorcerer", an instrumental piece composed by Bernie Leadon and recorded by The Eagles on their album One of These Nights. Only the transmitted radio series used the original recording; a soundalike cover by Tim Souster was used for the LP and TV series, another arrangement by Joby Talbot was used for the 2005 film, and still another arrangement, this time by Philip Pope, was recorded to be released with the CDs of the last three radio series. Apparently, Adams chose this song for its futuristic sounding nature, but also for the fact that it had a banjo in it, which, as Geoffrey Perkins recalls, Adams said would give it an "on the road, hitch-hiking feel."
The twelve episodes were released on CD and cassette in 1988, becoming the first CD release in the BBC Radio Collection. They were re-released in 1992, and at this time Adams suggested that they could retitle Fits the First through Sixth as "The Primary Phase" and Fits the Seventh through Twelfth as "The Secondary Phase" instead of just "the first series" and "the second series". It was about at this time that a "Tertiary Phase" was first discussed with Dirk Maggs, adapting Life, the Universe and Everything, but this series would not be recorded for another ten years.
- Simon Jones as Arthur Dent
- Geoffrey McGivern as Ford Prefect
- Susan Sheridan as Trillian
- Mark Wing-Davey as Zaphod Beeblebrox
- Stephen Moore as Marvin, the Paranoid Android
- Richard Vernon as Slartibartfast
- Peter Jones as The Book.
The novels are described as "a trilogy in five parts", having been described as a trilogy on the release of the third book, and then a "trilogy in four parts" on the release of the fourth book. The US edition of the fifth book was originally released with the legend "The fifth book in the increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhiker's Trilogy" on the cover. Subsequent re-releases of the other novels bore the legend "The [first, second, third, fourth] in the increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhiker's trilogy." In addition, the blurb on the fifth book humorously describes the book as "the book that gives a whole new meaning to the word 'trilogy'".
The plots of the television and radio series are more or less the same as that of the first two novels, though some of the events occur in a different order and many of the details are changed. Much of parts five and six of the radio series were written by John Lloyd, but his material did not make it into the other versions of the story and is not included here. Some consider the books' version of events to be definitive, because they are the most readily accessible and widely distributed version of the story. However, they are not the final version that Adams produced.
It was not truly clear that the series was over (since it was already a trilogy with five books) until Adams died of a heart attack at age 49 in 2001. Indeed, Adams said that the new novel he was working on, The Salmon of Doubt, was not working as a Dirk Gently story, and suggested it might instead become a sixth book in the Hitchhiker's series. He described Mostly Harmless in an interview as "a very bleak book" and said he "would love to finish Hitchhiker on a slightly more upbeat note". Adams also remarked that if he were to write a sixth installment, he would at least start with all the characters in the same place.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (published in 1979), the characters visit the legendary planet Magrathea, home to the now-collapsed planet building industry, and meet Slartibartfast, a planetary coastline designer who was responsible for the fjords of Norway. Through archival recordings, he relates the story of a race of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings who built a computer named Deep Thought to calculate the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. When the answer was revealed as 42, Deep Thought predicts that another computer, more powerful than itself would be made and designed by it to calculate the question for the answer. (Later on, referencing this, Adams would create a puzzle which could be approached in multiple ways, all yielding the answer 42.)
The computer, often mistaken for a planet (because of its size and use of biological components), was the Earth, and was destroyed by Vogons to make way for a hyperspatial express route, five minutes before the conclusion of its 10-million-year program. Two of a race of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings who commissioned the Earth in the first place, disguise themselves as Trillian's mice, and want to dissect Arthur's brain to help reconstruct the question, since he was part of the earth's matrix moments before it was destroyed, and so he is likely to have part of the question buried in his brain. Trillian is also human but had left Earth six months previously with Zaphod Beeblebrox, President of the Galaxy. The protagonists escape, setting course for "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe". The mice, in Arthur's absence, create a phony question since it is too troublesome for them to wait 10 million years again just to cash in on a lucrative deal. Their new question was " How many roads must a man walk down?"
The book was adapted from the first four radio episodes. It was first published in 1979, initially in paperback, by Pan Books, after BBC Publishing had turned down the offer of publishing a novelisation, an action they would later regret. The book reached number one on the book charts in only its second week, and sold over 250,000 copies within three months of its release. A hardback edition was published by Harmony Books, a division of Random House in the United States in October 1980, and the 1981 US paperback edition was promoted by the give-away of 3,000 free copies in the magazine Rolling Stone to build word of mouth. To date it has sold over 14 million copies.
A photo-illustrated edition of the first novel appeared in 1994.
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
In The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (published in 1980), Zaphod is separated from the others and finds he is part of a conspiracy to uncover who really runs the Universe. Zaphod meets Zarniwoop, a conspirator and editor for The Guide, who knows where to find the secret ruler. Zaphod becomes briefly reunited with the others for a trip to Milliways, the restaurant of the title. Zaphod and Ford decide to steal a ship from there, which turns out to be a stunt ship pre-programmed to plunge into a star as a special effect in a stage show. Unable to change course, the main characters get Marvin to run the teleporter they find in the ship, which is working other than having no automatic control (someone must remain behind to operate it), and Marvin seemingly sacrifices himself. Zaphod and Trillian discover that the Universe is in the safe hands of a simple man living on a remote planet in a wooden shack with his cat.
Ford and Arthur, meanwhile, end up on a spacecraft full of the outcasts of the Golgafrinchan civilisation. The ship crashes on prehistoric Earth; Ford and Arthur are stranded, and it becomes clear that the inept Golgafrinchans are the ancestors of modern humans, having displaced the Earth's indigenous hominids. This has disrupted the Earth's programming so that when Ford and Arthur manage to extract the final readout from Arthur's subconscious mind by pulling lettered tiles from a Scrabble set, it is "What do you get if you multiply six by nine?" Arthur then comments, "I've always said there was something fundamentally wrong with the universe."
The book was adapted from the remaining material in the radio series — covering from the fifth episode to the twelfth episode, although the ordering was greatly changed (in particular, the events of Fit the Sixth, with Ford and Arthur being stranded on pre-historic Earth, end the book, and their rescue in Fit the Seventh is deleted), and most of the Brontitall incident was omitted. Instead of the Haggunenon sequence, co-written by John Loyd, the Disaster Area stuntship was substituted — this having first been introduced in the LP version. Adams himself considered Restaurant to be his best novel of the five, an opinion shared by biographer M.J. Simpson.
Life, the Universe and Everything
In Life, the Universe and Everything (published in 1982), Ford and Arthur travel through the space-time continuum from prehistoric Earth to Lord's Cricket Ground. There they run into Slartibartfast, who enlists their aid in preventing galactic war. Long ago, the people of Krikkit attempted to wipe out all life in the Universe, but they were stopped and imprisoned on their home planet; now they are poised to escape. With the help of Marvin, Zaphod and Trillian, our heroes prevent the destruction of life in the Universe and go their separate ways.
This was the first Hitchhiker's book originally written as a book and not adapted from radio. Its story was based on a treatment Adams had written for a Doctor Who serial, with the Doctor role being split between Slartibartfast (to begin with), and later Trillian and Arthur.
In 2004 it was adapted for radio as the Tertiary Phase of the radio series.
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
In So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (published in 1984), Arthur returns home to Earth, rather surprisingly since it was destroyed when he left. He meets and falls in love with a girl named Fenchurch, and discovers this Earth is a replacement provided by the dolphins in their Save the Humans campaign. Eventually he rejoins Ford, who claims to have saved the Universe in the meantime, to hitch-hike one last time and see God's Final Message to His Creation. Along the way, they are joined by Marvin, the Paranoid Android, who, although 37 times older than the universe itself (what with time travel and all), has just enough power left in his failing body to read the message and feel better about it all before expiring.
This was the first Hitchhiker's novel which was not an adaptation of any previously written story or script. In 2005 it was adapted for radio as the Quandary Phase of the radio series.
Finally, in Mostly Harmless (published in 1992), Vogons take over The Hitchhiker's Guide (under the name of InfiniDim Enterprises), to finish, once and for all, the task of obliterating the Earth. After abruptly losing Fenchurch and travelling around the galaxy despondently, Arthur's spaceship crashes on the planet Lamuella, where he settles in happily as the official sandwich-maker for a small village of simple, peaceful people. Meanwhile, Ford Prefect breaks into The Guide's offices, gets himself an infinite expense account from the computer system, and then meets The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Mark II, an artificially intelligent, multi-dimensional guide with vast power and a hidden purpose. After he declines this dangerously powerful machine's aid (which he receives anyway), he sends it to Arthur Dent for safety ("Oh yes, whose?" — Arthur).
Trillian uses DNA that Arthur donated for travelling money to have a daughter, and when she goes to cover a war, she leaves her daughter Random Frequent Flyer Dent with Arthur. Random, a more-than-typically troubled teenager, steals The Guide Mark II and uses it to get to Earth. Arthur, Ford, Trillian, and Tricia McMillan (Trillian in this alternate universe) follow her to a crowded club, where an anguished Random becomes startled by a noise and inadvertently fires her gun at Arthur. The shot misses Arthur and kills a man (the ever-unfortunate Agrajag). Immediately afterwards, The Guide Mark II causes the removal of all possible Earths from probability. All of the main characters, save Zaphod, were on Earth at the time and are apparently killed, bringing a good deal of satisfaction to the Vogons.
In 2005 it was adapted for radio as the Quintessential Phase of the radio series, with the final episode first transmitted on 21 June 2005.
The Salmon of Doubt
The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time is a posthumous collection of previously uncollected material by Douglas Adams, published in 2001.
Douglas Adams and Geoffrey Perkins collaborated on The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Original Radio Scripts, first published in the United Kingdom and United States in 1985. A tenth anniversary (of the script book publication) edition was printed in 1995, and a twenty-fifth anniversary (of the first radio series broadcast) edition was printed in 2003.
A short story was also written, " Young Zaphod Plays it Safe". This story first appeared in The Utterly Utterly Merry Comic Relief Christmas Book, a special large-print compilation of different stories and pictures that raised money for the new (at the time) Comic Relief charity in the UK. It now appears in some of the omnibus editions of the trilogy, and in The Salmon of Doubt. It is almost, but not quite, entirely unrelated to the rest of the trilogy. There are two versions of this story, one of which is slightly more explicit in its already heavy-handed political commentary.
A novel, Douglas Adams's Starship Titanic written by Terry Jones, is based on Adams' computer game of the same name, which in turn is based on an idea from Life, the Universe and Everything.
Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged, a character from Life, the Universe and Everything, also appears in a short story by Adams titled "The Private Life of Genghis Khan" which appears in some early editions of The Salmon of Doubt.
For some information on understanding the philosophy of the Guide, or Douglas Adams's influence on technology, see The Anthology at the End of the Universe, a series of essays edited by Glenn Yeffeth, published in 2005.
Michael Hanlon published The Science of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in 2005. Topics include space tourism, parallel universes, instant translation devices and sentient computers.
Dirk Maggs, who adapted and dramatised the last three novels for radio, released a collection of their scripts in July 2005, with Maggs providing notes for each episode. This second radio script book is entitled The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Radio Scripts: The Tertiary, Quandary and Quintessential Phases. Douglas Adams gets the primary writer's credit (as he wrote the original novels), and there is a foreword by Simon Jones, introductions by Bruce Hyman and Dirk Maggs, and other introductory notes from other members of the cast.
The popularity of the radio series gave rise to a six-episode television series, directed and produced by Alan J W Bell, which first aired on BBC Two in January and February of 1981. It employed many of the actors from the radio series and was based mainly on the radio versions of Fits the First through Sixth. A second series was at one point planned, with a storyline, according to Alan Bell and Mark Wing-Davey, that would have come from Adams's abandoned Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen project (instead of simply making a TV version of the second radio series). However, Adams got into disputes with the BBC (accounts differ: problems with budget, scripts, and having Alan Bell and/or Geoffrey Perkins involved are all offered as causes), and the second series was never made. The elements of the Doctor Who and the Krikketmen project instead became the third novel, Life, the Universe and Everything.
The main cast was the same as the original radio series, except for David Dixon as Ford Prefect instead of McGivern, and Sandra Dickinson as Trillian instead of Sheridan.
Other television appearances
Segments of several of the books were adapted as part of the BBC's "Big Read" survey and programme, broadcast in late 2003. The film directed by Deep Sehgal starred Sanjeev Bhaskar as Arthur Dent, alongside Stephen Hawking as Deep Thought and a host of British alternative comedians influenced by the work of Douglas Adams.
Radio series three to five
On 21 June 2004, the BBC announced in a press release that a new series of Hitchhiker's based on the third novel would be broadcast as part of its autumn schedule, produced by Above the Title Productions Ltd. The episodes were recorded in late 2003, but actual transmission was delayed while an agreement was reached with The Walt Disney Company over Internet re-broadcasts, as Disney had begun pre-production on the film. This was followed by news that further series would be produced based on the fourth and fifth novels. These were broadcast in September and October 2004 and May and June 2005. CD releases accompanied the transmission of the final episode in each series.
The adaptation of the third novel followed the book very closely, which caused major structural issues in branching with the preceding radio series in comparison to the second novel. Because events in the second novel were written in a different order from the second radio series and several events were omitted, the two series split in completely different directions. The last two adaptations vary somewhat — some events in Mostly Harmless are now foreshadowed in the adaptation of So Long and Thanks For All The Fish, while both include some additional material that builds on incidents in the third series to tie all five (and their divergent plotlines) together, most especially including the character Zaphod more prominently in the final chapters and addressing his altered reality to include the events of the Secondary Phase. While Mostly Harmless originally contained a rather bleak ending, Dirk Maggs created a different ending for the transmitted radio version, ending it on a much more upbeat note, reuniting the cast one last time.
The core cast for the third through fifth radio series remained the same, except for the replacement of Peter Jones by William Franklyn as the Book, and Richard Vernon by Richard Griffiths as Slartibartfast, since both had died. (Homage to Jones' iconic portrayal of the Book was paid twice: the gradual shift of voices to a 'new' version in episode 13, launching the new productions, and a blend of Jones and Franklyn's voices at the end of the final episode, the first part of Maggs' alternative ending.) Sandra Dickinson, who played Trillian in the TV series, here played Tricia McMillan, an English born, American accented alternate-universe version of Trillian, while David Dixon, the television series' Ford Prefect, made a cameo appearance as the "Ecological Man". Jane Horrocks appeared in the new semi-regular role of Fenchurch, Arthur's girlfriend, and Samantha Béart joined in the final series as Arthur and Trillian's daughter, Random Dent. Also reprising their roles from the original radio series were Jonathan Pryce as Zarniwoop (here blended with a character from the final novel to become Zarniwoop Vann Harl), Rula Lenska as Lintilla and her clones (and also as the Voice of the Bird), and Roy Hudd as Milliways compere Max Quordlepleen, as well as the original radio series' announcer, John Marsh.
The series also featured guest appearances by such noted personalities as Joanna Lumley as the Sydney Opera House Woman, Jackie Mason as the East River Creature, Miriam Margolyes as the Smelly Photocopier Woman, BBC Radio cricket legends Henry Blofeld and Fred Trueman as themselves, June Whitfield as the Raffle Woman, Leslie Phillips as Hactar, Saeed Jaffrey as the Man on the Pole, Sir Patrick Moore as himself, and Christian Slater as Wonko the Sane. Finally, Adams himself played the role of Agrajag... a performance adapted from his book-on-tape reading of the third novel, and edited into the series he created some time after the author's death.
Tertiary, Quandary and Quintessential Phase Main cast:
- Simon Jones as Arthur Dent
- Geoffrey McGivern as Ford Prefect
- Susan Sheridan as Trillian
- Mark Wing-Davey as Zaphod Beeblebrox
- Stephen Moore as Marvin, the Paranoid Android
- Richard Griffiths as Slartibartfast
- Sandra Dickinson as Tricia McMillan
- Jane Horrocks as Fenchurch
- Rula Lenska as the Voice of the Bird
- Samantha Béart as Random
- William Franklyn as The Book
After years of setbacks and renewed efforts to start production and a quarter of a century after the first book was published, the big-screen adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was finally shot. Pre-production began in 2003, filming began on 19 April 2004 and post-production began in early September of 2004.
After a London premiere on 20 April 2005, it was released on 28 April in the UK and Australia, 29 April in the United States and Canada, and 29 July in South Africa. (A full list of release dates is available at the IMDb.) The movie stars Martin Freeman as Arthur, Mos Def as Ford, Sam Rockwell as President of the Galaxy Zaphod Beeblebrox and Zooey Deschanel as Trillian, with Alan Rickman providing the voice of Marvin the Paranoid Android (and Warwick Davis acting in Marvin's costume), and Stephen Fry as the voice of the Guide/Narrator.
The plot of the film adaptation of Hitchhiker's Guide differs widely from that of the radio show, book and television series. The romantic triangle between Arthur, Zaphod, and Trillian is more prominent in the film; and visits to Vogsphere, the homeworld of the Vogons (which, in the books, was already abandoned), and Viltvodle VI are inserted. The film covers roughly events in the first four radio episodes, and ends with the characters en route to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, leaving the opportunity for a sequel open.
The film was released on DVD (Region 2, PAL) in the UK on 5 September 2005. Both a standard double disc edition and a UK-exclusive numbered limited edition "Giftpack" were released on this date. The "Giftpack" edition includes a copy of the novel with a "movie tie-in" cover, and collectible prints from the film, packaged in a replica of the film's version of the Hitchhiker's Guide prop. A single disc widescreen or full-screen edition (Region 1, NTSC) were made available in the USA and Canada on 13 September 2005. Single disc releases in the Blu-ray format and UMD format for the PlayStation Portable were also released on the respective dates in these three countries.
There have been multiple professional and amateur stage adaptations of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. There were three early professional productions, which were staged in 1979 and 1980.
The first of these was performed at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, between 1st- 9 May 1979, starring Chris Langham as Arthur Dent (Langham later returned to Hitchhiker's as Prak in the final episode of 2004's Tertiary Phase). This show was adapted from the first series' scripts and was directed by Ken Campbell, who went on to perform a character in the final episode of the second radio series. The show ran 90 minutes, but had an audience limited to eighty people per night. Actors performed on a variety of ledges and platforms, and the audience was pushed around in a hovercar, 1/2000th of an inch above the floor. This was the first time that Zaphod was represented by having two actors in one large costume. The narration of "The Book" was split between two usherettes, an adaptation that has appeared in no other version of H2G2. One of these usherettes, Cindy Oswin, went on to voice Trillian for the LP adaptation.
The second stage show was performed throughout Wales between 15 January and 23 February 1980. This was a production of Clwyd Theatr Cymru, and was directed by Jonathan Petherbridge. The company performed adaptations of complete radio episodes, at times doing two episodes in a night, and at other times doing all six episodes of the first series in single three hour sessions. This adaptation was performed again at the Oxford Playhouse in December 1981, Plymouth's Theatre Royal in May/June 1982, and also at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry in July 1983.
The third, and least successful stage show was held at the Rainbow Theatre in London, in July 1980. This was the second production directed by Ken Campbell. The Rainbow Theatre had been adapted for stagings of rock operas in the 1970s, and both reference books mentioned in footnotes indicate that this, coupled with incidental music throughout the performance, caused some reviewers to label it as a "musical". This was the first adaptation for which Adams wrote the "Dish of the Day" sequence. The production ran for over three hours, and was widely panned for this, as well as the music, laser effects, and the acting. Despite attempts to shorten the script, and make other changes, it closed three or four weeks early (accounts differ), and lost a lot of money. Despite the bad reviews, there were at least two stand out performances: Michael Cule and David Learner both went on from this production to appearances in the TV adaptation.
Future stage production rights got tied up with the rights to make the film, though various amateur adaptations still appear worldwide today.
LP album adaptations
The first four radio episodes were adapted for a new double LP, also entitled The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (appended with "Part One" for the subsequent Canadian release,) first by mail-order only, and later into stores. The double LP and its sequel were originally released by Original Records in the United Kingdom, in 1979 and 1980 with the catalogue numbers ORA042 and ORA054 respectively. They were first released by Hannibal Records in 1982 (as HNBL 2301 and HNBL 1307, respectively) in the United States and Canada, and later re-released in a slightly abridged edition by Simon & Schuster's Audioworks in the mid-1980s. Both were produced by Geoffrey Perkins and featured cover artwork by Hipgnosis.
The script in the first double LP very closely follows the first four radio episodes, although further cuts had to be made for reasons of timing. Despite this, other lines of dialogue that were indicated as having been cut when the original scripts from the radio series were eventually published can be heard in the LP version. The Simon & Schuster cassettes omit the Veet Voojagig narration, the cheerleader's speech as Deep Thought concludes its seven-and-one-half million year programme, and a few other lines from both sides of the second LP of the set.
Most of the original cast returned, except for Susan Sheridan, who was recording a voice for the character of Princess Eilonwy in The Black Cauldron for Walt Disney Pictures. Cindy Oswin voiced Trillian on all three LPs in her place. Other casting changes in the first double LP included Stephen Moore taking on the additional role of the barman, and Valentine Dyall as the voice of Deep Thought. Adams' voice can be heard making the Public Address announcements on Magrathea.
Due to copyrights, the music used during the first radio series was either replaced, or in the case of the title, it was re-recorded in a new arrangement. Composer Tim Souster did both duties (with Paddy Kingsland contributing music as well,) and Souster's version of the theme was the version also used for the eventual television series.
The sequel LP was released, singly, as The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Part Two: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe in the UK, and simply as The Restaurant at the End of the Universe in the USA. The script here mostly follows Fit the Fifth and Fit the Sixth, but includes a song by the backup band in the restaurant ("Reg Nullify and his Cataclysmic Combo"), and changes the Haggunenon sequence to "Disaster Area".
Due to a misunderstanding, the second record was released before being cut down in a "final edit" that Douglas Adams and Geoffrey Perkins both had intended to make. Perkins has said, "[I]t is far too long on each side. It's just a rough cut. [...] I felt it was flabby, and I wanted to speed it up." The Simon & Schuster Audioworks re-release of this LP was also abridged slightly from its original release. The scene with Ford Prefect and Hotblack Desiato's bodyguard is omitted.
Sales for the first double-LP release were primarily through mail order. Total sales reached over 60,000 units, with half of those being mail order, and the other half through retail outlets. This is in spite of the facts that Original Records' warehouse ordered and stocked more copies than they were actually selling for quite some time, and that Paul Neil Milne Johnstone complained about his name and then-current address being included in the recording. This was corrected for a later pressing of the double-LP by "cut[ting] up that part of the master tape and reassembl[ing] it in the wrong order". The second LP release ("Part Two") also only sold a total of 60,000 units in the UK. The distribution deals for the USA and Canada with Hannibal Records and Simon and Schuster were later negotiated by Douglas Adams and his agent, Ed Victor, after gaining full rights to the recordings from Original Records, which went bankrupt.
Interactive fiction and video games
Sometime between 1982 and 1984 (accounts differ) the British company Supersoft published a text-based adventure game based on the book, which was released in versions for the Commodore PET and Commodore 64. One account states that there was a dispute as to whether valid permission for publication had been granted, and following legal action the game was withdrawn and all remaining copies were destroyed. Another account states that the programmer, Bob Chappell, rewrote the game to remove all Hitchhiker's references, and republished it as "Cosmic Capers".
Officially, the TV series was followed in 1984 by a best-selling " interactive fiction", or text-based adventure game, distributed by Infocom. It was designed by Adams and Infocom regular Steve Meretzky and was one of Infocom's most successful games. As with many Infocom games, the box contained a number of " feelies" including a "Don't panic" badge, some "pocket fluff", a pair of peril-sensitive sunglasses, an order for the destruction of the Earth, a small, clear plastic bag containing "a microscopic battle fleet" and an order for the destruction of Arthur Dent's house (signed by Adams and Meretzky).
In September 2004 it was revived by the BBC on the Hitchhiker's section of the Radio 4 website for the initial broadcast of the Tertiary Phase, and is still available to play online. This new version uses an original Infocom datafile with a custom-written interpreter, by Sean Sollé, and Flash programming by Shimon Young, both of whom used to work at The Digital Village (TDV). The new version includes illustrations by Rod Lord, who was head of Pearce Animation Studios in 1980, which produced the guide graphics for the TV series. On 2 March 2005 it won the Interactive BAFTA in the "best online entertainment" category.
A sequel to the original Infocom game was never made. An all new, fully graphical game, was designed and developed by a joint venture between The Digital Village and PAN Interactive (no connection to Pan Books/Pan Mcmillan). This new game was planned and developed between 1998 and 2002, but like the sequel to the Infocom game, it also never materialised. In April 2005 Starwave Mobile released two mobile games to accompany the release of the film adaptation. The first, developed by Atatio, was called "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Vogon Planet Destructor". It was a typical top-down shooter and except for the title had little to do with the actual story. The second game, developed by TKO Software, was a graphical adventure game named "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Adventure Game". Despite its name the newly designed puzzles by Sean Sollé were different from the Infocom ones, and the game followed the movie's script closely and included the new characters and places. The "Adventure Game" won the IGN's "Editors' Choice Award" on May 2005.
In 1993, DC Comics, in conjunction with Byron Preiss Visual Publications, published a three part comic book adaptation of the novelisation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. This was followed up with three part adaptations of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe in 1994, and Life, the Universe and Everything in 1996. There was also a series of collectors' cards with art from and inspired by the comic adaptations of the first book, and a graphic novelisation (or "collected edition") combining the three individual comic books from 1993, itself released in May 1997.
The adaptations were scripted by John Carnell. Steve Leialoha provided the art for Hitchhiker's and the layouts for Restaurant. Shepherd Hendrix did the finished art for Restaurant. Neil Vokes and John Nyberg did the finished artwork for Life, based on breakdowns by Paris Cullins (Book 1) and Christopher Schenck (Books 2-3). The miniseries were edited by Howard Zimmerman and Ken Grobe.
Many merchandising and spin-off items (or "Hitch-Hikeriana") were produced in the early 1980s, including towels in different colours, all bearing the Guide entry for towels. Later runs of towels include those made for promotions by Pan Books, Touchstone Pictures/Disney for the 2005 movie, and different towels made for ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha, the official Hitchhiker's Appreciation society. Other items that first appeared in the mid-1980s were t-shirts, including those made for Infocom (such as one bearing the legend "I got the Babel Fish" for successfully completing one of that game's most difficult puzzles), and a Disaster Area tour t-shirt. Other official items have included "Beeblebears" (teddy bears with an extra head and arm, named after Hitchhiker's character Zaphod Beeblebrox, sold by the official Appreciation Society), an assortment of pin-on buttons and a number of novelty singles. Many of the above items are displayed throughout the 2004 "25th Anniversary Illustrated Edition" of the novel, which used items from the personal collections of fans of the series.
Stephen Moore recorded two novelty singles in character as Marvin, the Paranoid Android: " Marvin"/" Metal Man" and " Reasons To Be Miserable"/" Marvin I Love You". The last song has appeared on a Dr. Demento compilation. There was also another single featuring the re-recorded "Journey of the Sorcerer" (arranged by Tim Souster) on side A with "Reg Nullify In Concert" by Reg Nullify, and "Only the End of the World Again" by Disaster Area (including Douglas Adams on bass guitar). These discs have since become collector's items.
The 2005 movie also added quite a few collectibles, mostly through the National Entertainment Collectibles Association. These included three prop replicas of objects seen on the Vogon ship and homeworld (a mug, a pen and a stapler), sets of " action figures" with a height of either 3 or 6 inches (150 mm), a gun, based on a prop used by Marvin, the Paranoid Android that shoots foam darts, a crystal cube, shot glasses, a ten inch (254 mm) high version of Marvin with eyes that light up green, and "yarn doll" versions of Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Trillian, Marvin and Zaphod Beeblebrox. Also, various audio tracks were released to coincide with the movie, notably re-recordings of "Marvin" and "Reasons To Be Miserable", sung by Stephen Fry, along with some of the " Guide Entries", newly written material read in-character by Fry.
The Ultra-Complete Index to the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Ultra-Complete Index to the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy is an index for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It was created by Mathias Maul and released under the GNU Free Documentation License.
The origin of the towel joke
The full version of this story was first found in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Original Radio Scripts and reprised in The Salmon of Doubt, but the short version is as follows: Adams had gone on holiday in Greece, but every time he had decided to go to the beach with his fellows, he discovered that his towel would disappear, and could be found only after hours of searching.
After the holiday had ended, he decided that anyone who really had their life in order would always know the location of such a useful item, hence the fictional aphorism "A hoopy frood always knows where his towel is".
He assumed, after learning that so many people liked and understood the joke, that he was not the only one with such an experience. After his death, Towel Day was established on May 25 as a tribute (two weeks after the date of his death).
Many science fiction fans and radio listeners outside the United Kingdom were first exposed to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in one of two ways: shortwave radio broadcasts of the original radio series, or by Douglas Adams being "Guest of Honour" at the 1979 World Science Fiction Convention, Seacon, held in Brighton, England, UK. It was there that the radio series was nominated for a Hugo Award (the first radio series to receive a nomination) but lost to Superman. A convention exclusively for H2G2, Hitchercon I, was held in Glasgow, Scotland, UK, in September 1980, the year that the official fan club, ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha, was organised. In the early 1980s, versions of H2G2 became available in the United States, Canada, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Israel.