The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide: Five Complete Novels and One Story (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #1-5)

ISBN: 0517226952
ISBN 13: 9780517226957
By: Douglas Adams

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About this book

It's safe to say that The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is one of the funniest science fiction novels ever written. Adams spoofs many core science fiction tropes: space travel, aliens, interstellar war--stripping away all sense of wonder and repainting them as commonplace, even silly.This omnibus edition begins with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, in which Arthur Dent is introduced to the galaxy at large when he is rescued by an alien friend seconds before Earth's destruction. Then in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Arthur and his new friends travel to the end of time and discover the true reason for Earth's existence. In Life, the Universe, and Everything, the gang goes on a mission to save the entire universe. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish recounts how Arthur finds true love and "God's Final Message to His Creation." Finally, Mostly Harmless is the story of Arthur's continuing search for home, in which he instead encounters his estranged daughter, who is on her own quest. There's also a bonus short story, "Young Zaphod Plays It Safe," more of a vignette than a full story, which wraps up this completist's package of the Don't Panic chronicles. As the series progresses, its wackier elements diminish, but the satire of human life and foibles is ever present.

Reader's Thoughts

Kim

I wish I had read this book when I was younger and technology hadn't moved so far past what it was at the time it was written. Really a fun, quick read, with all sorts of great characters and clever scenarios.

Mike

The coolest five-book trilogy ever. Seriously some of the best and original science fiction ever written, and it just happens to be hilarious. Not too many people have the balls to write a trilogy that starts off with the absolute destruction of earth for no other reason than the fact that it was in the path of a hyperspace highway that was soon to become obsolete with the advent of the improbability drive. Speaking of which, the technology in these books is easily more imaginative than anything that George Lucas has thought of in the last twenty years. I look forward to the day when I can receive all of my nutrients through a towel. Painting myself pink has yet to be attempted, but I have no doubt that I would become somebody else's problem. My goal in life is to create Disaster Area's completely frictionless ship that gets launched into a nearby star at the climax of their planet-wide concerts. Someday.... Reading these books is essential for living. If you appreciate anything from Monty Python (Adams worked with the Pythons on occasion) or want to read something original, read this iconic trilogy. You will not be sorry.

Amelia, the pragmatic idealist

In my opinion, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the best in the series. I can only imagine what it must have been like to read a first-edition of the novel when it was originally published back in 1979, or to have listened to the original radio broadcast even earlier. The story was highly original, zany (sometimes even incomprehensibly silly), the characters lovable and bizarre at the same time, and the concept...out-of-this-world original. I mean, the creator of Vogons (and their poetry!) ought to get a 5-star rating all the time, every time.Unfortunately for me, I do not have the same endearing feelings for the subsequent books - The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, and my least-favorite, Mostly Harmless. As a radio/TV concept, the material for stories seems endless. But I don't know, that longevity didn't work for me in novel format. So while I love having an omnibus copy of all the books in the series (loving this larger, more compact edition more than the single-volume Hitchhiker's...), I still prefer the first story to the others in the series. And now...a poem I wrote!See, see the Type-A skyMarvel at its big turquoise depths.Tell me, Bertha do youWonder why the monkey ignores you?Why its foobly staremakes you feel irritable.I can tell you, it isWorried by your wackity facial growthThat looks likeA pineapple.What's more, it knowsYour snog potting shedSmells of snail.Everything under the big Type-A skyAsks why, why do you even bother?You only charm socks.

Sandy Tjan

This review is for the first two books only.I have a confession to make: I am allergic to sci-fi. The kind that has as its hero a humanoid who lives in 23345 AD on a dystopian red planet, where he must fight slimy insectoid aliens whose sole purpose in life is to lay and hatch their filthy eggs on human bodies. The guy is barely human anyway, with half his face swathed in shiny robotic gear with glowing red eyes that look like the battery-powered tip of my 10 year old’s toy laser gun. Or instead of being half-android, he is half Vulcan or Neptune or whatever and thus has the emotional life of a plant. He would speak in pseudo-scientific jargon, something like, “ I must get the quark-photon-intercellular battery on my jet-propulsion pack to work so that I can get back to my Hyper Drive Interstellar Pod and shoot off to Alpha Centauri XYZ2345 in 10,000 times the warp speed along the space-time continuum”. I could feel my brain slowly turn to mush after barely ONE page of dialogue like that. He would have a robotic sidekick that looks like my Brabantia Dome Lid Waste Container with a string of blinking Christmas light around it, except that it can also speak in a metallic voice that somehow sounds like my mother-in-law in one of her bad days. Oh, and there will be other more sympathetic alien life forms that look like the misbegotten offspring of a camel and an orangutan, or some rubbery stuffed toy that the dog had chewed to bits. In short, I just can’t see why I should care about the fate of these monstrous, barely human creatures. Why waste precious time reading about some trash can android or an alien that looks like the Elephant Man on a bad hair day while there are perfectly normal, realistic HUMAN characters out there?My favorite genre is historical fiction; you know, those books about human beings who either have been dead for centuries, or never existed at all, written by people who cannot possibly have any first-hand knowledge of the period that they’re writing about? Nothing could be more different than science fiction, something that I have not touched in 20 years or so.So, what am I doing with The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Omnibus, 832 pages of sci-fi drenched in techno babble and redolent of the smell of a million alien armpits?Well, for one thing, it’s included in the BBC’s 100 Big Reads, which for some reason has become my guide to a worthwhile reading list that is not solely composed of the classics. The other thing is that it’s supposed to be one of the funniest books ever written ---I can always overlook the sci-fi for the funnies. And the characters are recognizably human, or at least sort of human, although one of them is called Zaphod Beeblebrox, (which, incidentally would make a good brand name for a laxative) and has two heads and three arms. The other two are genuine human beings from Earth --- or carbon-based ape-descended life forms --- take your pick, and the other one is a human looking alien with ginger hair (a hideous genetic mutation that should be bred out in real humans). And he is conveniently named Ford Prefect. No need to memorize ridiculous alien names when a simple English one will do. And now that we are superficially acquainted with the protagonists, it’s time to summarize the plot of this sprawling intergalactic tome --- except that there is no real plot to speak of. Well, actually there is something about looking for the Ultimate Question --- ‘What is the meaning of life?’ --- which is of interest to all life forms in the universe, at least to those that have the brain capacity to ponder such things. But mostly they just bounce around from one bizarre planet to another, having weird adventures in which they meet, among others, a paranoid android, rebellious appliances, a comatose intergalactic rock star and a megalomaniac book publisher. Ultimately, the barely there plot is nothing but an excuse for an absurdist farce through which Adams pokes fun at organized religion, meat-eaters, politicians, big businesses, environmentalists, the publishing industry and other pet peeves. Some parts are brilliantly funny, especially in the first book, while others had me scratching my head and wondering whether he was high on something when he wrote them. Certain sections are mind-numbingly boring and confusing in that special sci-fi way. Oh, and the constant smugness and non-stop zaniness are grating after the second book or so, and I just lost interest completely after finishing it.At least I know now that ‘babel fish’ is not just a strangely named online translation program. And that it is possible to write a book about what is essentially nonsense and have it become a major pop culture icon. But I’m also mightily relieved that I can stop hitchhiking through THIS universe, which is probably too cool and too clever for me to completely understand.And this shall be my last sci-fi book for the next 20 years.

Epicurus

"I give up!"I exclaimed this very proudly. Just as proudly as Arthur exclaimed, "I will go mad!" At the beginning of the third book. I enjoyed the first two books and the beginning of the third but decided that I have nothing to gain from reading the rest of this series. I was wrong! If you are going to read Douglas Adams then my advice to you is to read them one book at a time and not in The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide. I grew tired of Douglas Adams' roundabout jokes that took on an identical spin by the time I reached the third book. Maybe it's because I'm American. What do you think? Is this British Monty Python humor? At times I read it and quite enjoyed it. At times I read it and quite loathed it.Go ahead, read the first book. That one doesn't bite much. You'll quite like it I'm sure. I'm quite sure I'm done now. 14 of 15 books completed this year. .933 isn't such a bad batting average.

Nick Black

Parts were and at times remain the height of funny, but there's a lot of trash in there (wtf was going on with the last book?). Certainly an old friend, read and reread literally countless times. Back when I ate a lot of acid, I'd curl up with this big hardback as the sun rose and those horrible hours of introspection, self-loathing and promises to improve oneself tried to kick in. Everyone ought read it, but that also means everyone *can* read it, which kind of reduces the allure.

Debbie

Knew someone who had a theory that you could open this book to a random page, put your finger down and within that paragraph would be something witty. Interesting

Nicholas

OK. Where do I start with this one. It's a doozy.Let's first of all say that I think this is one of the best uses of the English language. It's right up there with, well, anything else. I mean, just read the sentences. He is a lot like Tolkien, in that he makes the words themselves the art. But where Tolkien will take English and make it into a lush, broad canvas, Mr. Adams turns English into a plaything. Let's put my last sentence another way: The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy is the literary equivalent of juggling chainsaws. You read it through the first time, and you have no freaking clue how he did that with those words. OK, we got that out of the way. How bout the story now? Sure, that sounds good, Nick.There is no plot. For all of you who need one, I'm very very sory. But frankly, it's better that way. Life doesn't have a plot, right? You just sort of muddle through your week doing the best you can with what Life can throw at you. Well, that's the point with this. He takes the most regular guy, the guy you'd like to hang out with, someone decent that you can introduce to your sister. And then Adams throws him out into space and just sees what happens.Certain parts of this book, especially at the beginning, are an adaptation of the BBC Radio programme aired in 1977, which was also written by Douglas Adams. And he wrote H2G2 episodically, but also with no clear goal in mind. So when his characters come to a problem, Adams had no idea what would happen to them until he wrote the solution. Some rather large pieces of the story stuck in H2G2 this way. This is most true in the earlier books in the Trilgy (yes, it's five books in a series; The trilogy is inaccurately named), when the writing is fresher and better.But the best part of H2G2 (and all of DNA's books, frankly, even Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency) is his worldview. Basically, it's all about taking what life gives you with patience, humor, and tea. Yes, he was an Atheist (Yes, I'm a Christian whose favorite thinker/writer/guy was an Atheist. Calm down, calm down.), and he disliked people using ideas and beliefs as a crutch. This is the part where it's hard to really write a coherent review for me, because so many loved ones of mine (hi Mom and Dad) would see this as a Very Bad Idea. So why don't you shoot me an email, and we can have a discussion about it? Maybe sit down, and have some coffee and some nice nosh and chat? You'll get more and better ideas out of me that way. Anyways, I've just lost my train of thought, so I'll just say you'll love the part about the Vogon poetry. And H2G2 is an inaccurately named trilogy, because it is composed of five books. I recommend reading them all at once, even though there's no plot and things in one book will sometimes contradict things in another. Anyways, this trilogy is still one of my favorites.

Beth

I don't think I've ever gotten all the way through this five-books-plus-a-short-story trilogy, but it still remains fond in memory as part of my British sci-fi TV phase in high school that also included Dr. Who and Blake's 7. (A good looking actor or two, and the scripts, had about equal influence on teenager-me's interest level.)*Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: it has to have been since I was in high school that I read this one, since I would have recognized the Monty Python nods that pop up here and there from hanging out with nerds through college and beyond. Our universe here has a white maleness about it, but calling that out feels ungracious in the face of something that still made me laugh, even after having been through the story many times over the years in TV, book, and movie form. *(More as I move through this anthology.)

Arnaud

The perfect way to forget how long a roundtrip ATL-CDG is That is all :-)Please, proceed!

Joe S

Why does British humor rely so much on the use of indifference? Just something I've noticed.So the Earth is destroyed. In an indifferent manner, which makes it hi-larious. A bloke is saved and, unmoored in the Universe, is dragged through a series of droll hijinx. One formulaic hijinx after another, which are really just vehicles for terribly self-satisfied one-liners. And then the novel stops at a seemingly arbitrary point -- though I suspect it's actually the point of diminishing returns. At around the third novel (this is a collection of five plus a short story, remember; I expect my medal to arrive any day now), Adams begins to lick himself uncontrollably and lifts entire chapters from his earlier books. I find this utterly distasteful.The first two novels collected here ( The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe) are tolerable if you enjoy dry humor. The rest is offal.

Liz

It doesn't get any better than this. Best books ever.

Lowed

- whew!! kept me singing that old song that goes ♫♪"i just can't get enough!" ♫♪

Phil Zimmerman

I started this book with great trepidation. I have been hearing my entire life, bits of the jokes contains, and the generally awesomeness of these books. I was afraid, that reading them would be like seeing a nostalgic movie too late in life. It might lose something or perhaps a lot! I will write about each book as I finishThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - This first book was pure joy. I laughed out loud, I was amazed, and even the parts I sort of knew were still awesome. I am glad I am not stopping here and this book definitely does not represent a full story. Arthur, Ford, Zaphod, and Marvin have drawn me in and I cant wait to see what happens next.Restaurant at the End of the Universe - Wow this book goes everywhere, literally. Distance and time and size are non-limiting factors in this second installment. It is in no way as good as the first, but Zaphod as the lovable idiot is wonderful stuff. Also, the captain of the ship that Arthur and Ford end up on is comedic gold.Life the Universe and Everything - Didn't enjoy this one at all. Seemed to be weird just for weird sake.So Long and Thanks for all the Fish - Great read, loved Fenchurch as well as Wonko the Sane. My second favorite in the series.Mostly Harmless - A decent installment. Arthur and Ford back together again. This book has far less dialogue than the others. So glad to be done with all of these. Maybe reading them in a row was a bad idea. I would rank them in number of stars 5.4.2.4.3

Eugene

The reader Suzy down below says it best: "Terribly witty and sickeningly clever" Basically, the Hitchhiker series is the equivalent of Douglas Adams using some sort of godless magic to conjure pure unconcentrated "Funny" into the form of a hideous, many-spiked, eight ton iron mace, which he then proceeds to viciously and remorselessly beat you with for several hours or until you give him your package of store bought cookies, which he believes are his because you both bought the same brand and happen to be sitting at the same table that day, but his are unwittingly hidden underneath his newspaper and so he's assumed you've stolen them.That's why I've taken to reading this compilation by flipping to a random page and only reading a chapter at a time. "HG to the G" is like a well crafted roux - on its own it's much too potent to eat, but as a sauce spread thinly upon your otherwise dull and eventless day, it is delicious.

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