Your Neatorama Guide To The Hitchhiker's Guide

Technically, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy should probably be The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe, as the book most certainly explores multiple galaxies, regardless of semantics though, the story is undoubtedly a worldwide phenomenon. As a book, it has been translated into 30 languages and was voted the fourth most loved book in all of Britain. In honor of the book’s 30th anniversary, which took place earlier this month, Neatorama is presenting you a collection of facts related to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy. Whether you’ve read the book, heard the radio broadcasts, seen the movie or seen the TV show, there’s certainly something here you don’t know yet.

What’s In A Name?

Fans often abbreviate The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy as HHGTTG, but Adams uses the abbreviation of H2G2, which is also used on the official BBC online guide. Other nicknames can include “The Hitchhiker’s Guide,” “The Guide” or “Hitchhiker’s.” To make matters more confusing, when people use the full name, they are sometimes referring to the series and sometimes referring to the fictional book the series was named after. Just to ensure you’re entirely confused I plan to use all of the names in this article. Image Via Nicholas "Lord Gordon" [Flickr]

It’s As Multimedia As You Can Get

Fans of the series might know that the Guide started as a radio series (which technically makes H2G2 31 years old, since the first broadcast was 1978), which quickly spawned a series of 5 books, a TV show and a movie, but you may not know there were also a number of stage shows, a comic book adaptation and a computer game based on Hitchhiker’s. There was even a series of towels released with towel part of the first novel, which some fans consider to be the “official version” of the book (if you aren’t familiar with the works, then you may not know how important towels can be). In other works, these adaptations would end up being watered-down, mediocre versions of the original that don’t reflect the artist’s actual vision. Fortunately, most of the adaptations involved with the HHGTTG were done by Douglas Adams himself.

Time To Celebrate

The H2G2 has even spawned its own holiday. May 25 in Towel Day. Towels are, after all, one of the most important things an interstellar traveler can have with them at any time. If you’re wondering how to celebrate Towel Day - why, just bring a towel with you all day, of course! There are even two sites dedicated to Towel Day, the countdown site,, and the informational site, Here at Neatorama, we’ve even covered towel day twice before. Image Via JenT [Flickr]

In The Beginning, There Was Destruction

As mentioned above, the first incarnations of the Guide were in radio form. The first series actually was originally going to be called “The Ends of the Earth,” which was to be a six-part radio series. In each of the episodes, the story would end when the world ended – each time in a different way. When Adams started writing the first episode, he realized he needed an alien there to provide context and the alien needed a reason to be on Earth. In coming up with this reason, he finally decided to have the alien be a researcher for a "wholly remarkable book,” which would be known as The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Eventually, the story ended up focusing on the book, which started up the whole crazy phenomenon. Later on, Adams claimed that he had already came up with the idea of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” while hitchhiking through Europe in his youth. Image Via Adam Foster Codefor [Flickr]

Sounds Good To Me

The series is notable for being the first BBC radio program to be produced in stereo and later in Dolby surround sound. Adams claimed he wanted the program’s production to be comparable to that of a rock album, and as a result, a lot of the program’s budget went towards sound effects. Speaking of rock music, the tune used on the radio, television, LP and film versions was “Journey of the Sorcerer,” an instrumental Eagles’ song from the album One of These Nights.

The World’s Most Inaccurate Trilogy Series

The novels were originally released as a trilogy, but then Adams came out with So Long, And Thanks for All The Fish, making the books “a trilogy in four parts.” Then he released Mostly Harmless and the series became “a trilogy in five parts,” the cover of which advertised itself as "The fifth book in the increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhiker's Trilogy.” The blurb on the book went on to say, "the book that gives a whole new meaning to the word 'trilogy.'" At this point, fans continued to be hopeful that the series would eventually become “a trilogy in six parts,” but Adams died of a heart attack in 2001 before a sixth book was finished. Before he passed though, he had hinted that the newest novel he was working on, The Salmon of Doubt, may have been this sixth book. He said in an interview that Mostly Harmless was “very bleak” and that he would love to finish the “trilogy” on a “slightly more upbeat note.” Image Via Jenbooks [Flickr]

Inspired Inspirations

It’s only natural that any phenomenon as big as the Guide would have inspired some other works – of course, these works are particularly off-the-wall, just like the work that inspired them. Monty Python member Terry Jones actually wrote a novel, Douglas Adams’s Starship Titanic, based on Adam’s computer game, “Starship Titanic,” which was based on an idea in Life, the Universe and Everything. In 2005, Michael Hanlon published The Science of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy, which covered important topics such as the Babel fish, parallel universes and space tourism.

Remember Your Memorabilia

There was tons of merchandise made for Hitchhiker’s over the years. Some of the favorite memorabilia items, as mentioned above, were towels with the Guide’s entry for towels. Then there were the singles released by Stephen Moore sung in the character of Marvin, the Paranoid Android, “Marvin,” Metal Man,” Reasons To Be Miserable,” and “Marvin I Love You.” My favorite though, was the "Beeblebear,” a teddy bear with an extra arm and head like Zaphod Beeblebox. Image Via ZoeARP [Flickr] Sources #1, #2, #3

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The movie was a complete disaster. Whoever was responsible should have to listen to multiple verses of Vogon poetry. The original BBC series however, in spite of a much tinier budget and limited special effects, was just great and much closer to the spirit of the books.
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I remember the game, too. You are talking about the text-based game that was played on the Commodore 64, correct?

By the way, does anybody know where I can get that towel in the picture entitled "Towel Day 2006"? That would be great to get. Thank you.
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@Zavatone & @Him

To quote Ford Prefect: "It might be right, but it's probably wrong."

Don't forget that when Ford and Arthur arrived on prehistoric earth with the occupants of the B-Ark they supplanted to indigenous humans who became extinct. So at that point the whole program got screwed up anyway.

Not forgetting of course that nobody ever knew what the actual question was.

Which reminds us that when Arthur tried to discover the question by randomly pulling out letters from the Scrabble bag he came up with "What do you get if you multiply six by nine." Pretty much proving that the program had been screwed up.

Oh and @Don't Panic! There were never two double albums. There was a double album (The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy) and a single (The Restaurant at the end of the Universe). As is normal with Hitch-Hikers they were not the same as any other version, while they broadly covered the same material as the radio series, there were small differences in the double album. There was a major change in the second album where the (IMHO rather weak) Haggunenon sequence from the radio series was replaced by Disaster Area's stunt ship.

And finally it certainly isn't the most inaccurate trilogy. As far as I'm aware that title belongs to Robert Rankin's Brentford Trilogy. Although I'm willing to be corrected on that.
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