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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Classics Currently Reading Fantasy Favorites Fiction Humor Sci Fi Science Fiction Scifi To Read

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

Catherine

This comic gem of a book was very different from the movie- Douglas Adams (I believe he wrote the screenplay long before it was set to the screen) doesn't like to write the same story twice, so it is not to be overlooked just because you saw the movie. It is amazingly written and quite funny. Not to be missed!

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.

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.

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.)

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.

Josh

An absolutely fantastic read. Seriously can not believe I had not read these earlier in my life. Douglas Adams takes you on a ride in a majestic, profound and captivatingly surreal universe, one that is totally unrestricted by the imagination. After reading the entire set, I watched the flick and was utterly disappointed. Someday, someone will capture a glimpse of what Adams portrayed in his descriptive writing and share it with us in an epic film series like Star Wars, etc. But until that day, and even beyond it, these books will inspire much thought and project your mind to the bounds of time and space. A must read: 10 out of 5

sologdin

Really liked these as a kid. Upon rereading, I note that:Volume I and Volume II still hold up to where I had placed them in nostalgia. Happy Ent is right that Bakker's Inchoroi are the Golgafrinchan B Ark--and I'd add that the sperm whale suddenly called into existence by the Infinite Improbability Drive in part I looks like the original source for Bakker's No-God:This is a complete record of its thought from the moment it began its life till the moment it ended it.Ah...! What's happening? it thought.Er, excuse me, who am I?Hello?Why am I here? What's my purpose in life?What do I mean by who am I?(95). And so on. Bakker is essentially writing a dyssatircal gloss on Adams.Volume III keeps the tone but changes the subject matter of the first two installments, taking on subject matter that was not present for the earlier bits, but also seeming to abandon the narrative of the first two.No idea what the point of Volume IIII is. Volume V, alright, but meh. It looks like it ends a cliffhanger similar to the sixth Dune or Farscape season 4. Still a good sense of humor throughout, and definitely a major component of the geocentric aliens subgenre.Recommended for slugs with rocket launchers, people who wondered where Elvis went, and depressed robots.

Aryn

Often muddled, completely confusing and contradictory and utterly ridiculous, The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy offers a singular perspective on well...Life, the Universe and Everything and at least four barrels of laughter along the way.And perhaps that's the whole point. Life is completely confusing, contradictory and utterly ridiculous. So, why should this trilogy in five parts be any different?The more iconic moments are, of course, more towards the beginning. It gets muddled in the middle and in the end, it starts to make some kind of sense (and we feel like we might finally getting a grip on things but then gets blasted to smithereens). It is not incredibly linear. It's wildly hilarious, but things never really seem to progress forward. This is not an epic, despite its length. There is no overall lesson to be learned. There's barely a story to follow. If anything it is a string of very funny scenes that are more-or-less vaguely and totally unrelated to the previous ones. The language is clever and sharp. The concepts are mind-altering. The humor is the kind that makes me laugh out loud and startle everyone else unfortunate enough to be occupying the same room as I am. I'm giving it three stars: One for humor, one for wit, one for becoming such an iconic part of my life. However, I think if no more than two books had been written, things would have...well, made more sense.

Arnaud

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

Madeline

Douglas Adams is either the craziest, most creative and funniest author I've ever read, or he's just on crack. Or maybe it's a little of both.The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the books that follow it are all completely insane and impossible to summarize, so I'm not even going to try. They're books that can't be taken too seriously, so just sit back, relax, and enjoy the portrait of insanity Adams so expertly paints.

Keely

The universe is a joke. Even before I was shown the meaning of life in a dream at 17 (then promptly forgot it because I thought I smelled pancakes), I knew this to be true--and yet, I have always felt a need to search for the truth, that nebulous, ill-treated creature. Adams has always been, to me, to be a welcome companion in that journey. Between the search for meaning and the recognition that it's all a joke in poor taste lies Douglas Adams, and, luckily for us, he doesn't seem to mind if you lie there with him. He's a tall guy, but he'll make room.For all his crazed unpredictability, Adams is a powerful rationalist. His humor comes from his attempts to really think through all the things we take for granted. It turns out it takes little more than a moment's questioning to burst our preconceptions at the seams, yet rarely does this stop us from treating the most ludicrous things as if they were perfectly reasonable.It is no surprise that famed atheist Richard Dawkins found a friend and ally in Adams. What is surprising is that people often fail to see the rather consistent and reasonable philosophy laid out by Adams' quips and absurdities. His approach is much more personable (and less embittered) than Dawkins', which is why I think of Adams as a better face for rational materialism (which is a polite was of saying 'atheism').Reading his books, it's not hard to see that Dawkins is tired of arguing with uninformed idiots who can't even recognize when a point has actually been made. Adams' humanism, however, stretched much further than the contention between those who believe, and those who don't.We see it from his protagonists, who are not elitist intellectuals--they're not even especially bright--but damn it, they're trying. By showing a universe that makes no sense and having his characters constantly question it, Adams is subtly hinting that this is the natural human state, and the fact that we laugh and sympathize shows that it must be true.It's all a joke, it's all ridiculous. The absurdists might find this depressing, but they're just a bunch of narcissists, anyhow. Demnading the world make sense and give you purpose is rather self centered when it already contains toasted paninis, attractive people in bathing suits, and Euler's Identity. I say let's sit down at the bar with the rabbi, the priest, and the frog and try to get a song going. Or at least recognize that it's okay to laugh at ourselves now and again. It's not the end of the world.It's just is a joke, but only some of us are in on it.

Suzy

It's that book you pick up and feel obligated to love, if only to escape grievous fan persecution. Well. Here goes. Let's start with the humour. Yes, it's everything that humour should be. For a while, you are oh-so-amused and impressed...but then you weary of being so amused. Akin to being kept on the edge of your seat for a good few hours - something's going to get sore. It's just such a strain. I skipped ten or so pages near the middle but I'm sure those ten pages were, like the rest of the book, terribly witty and sickeningly clever.The plot takes twists like...ah, what's a good analogy? A snake on LSD? That'll do. Don't get me wrong, they're good twists and Adams is admittedly superb at making the inherently illogical seem orderly and precise, but they just don't stop coming. And after a while, the worst happens and the reader just stops caring. I can see why this book has achieved its cult status. It deserves its cult status in many ways. There are moments of startling originality that knock you back and spin your world to a crazy new angle, but when the whole book is all but filled with these moments, the crazy new angle begins to make you dizzy and irritated. At the end, I'm still feeling oh-so-amused and impressed, but also oh-so-relieved I can stop.

Evan Leach

This collection includes all five of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker novels in one volume, along with a short story and a nice introduction by Neil Gaiman. Some brief thoughts about the five books (which I’ve reviewed individually):The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Wildly funny, the first book is a true classic of both comedy and science fiction. One of my all-time favorites that I cannot recommend highly enough. 6 stars!The Restaurant at the End of the Universe: Even more random and chaotic than the first book, but still hilarious. If you enjoyed the first book in the series, you’ll really like this one. 4 stars.Life, the Universe and Everything: Book three has a much more coherent plot than the first two entries. Not quite as funny as one and two (in large part because the gang is split up for much of the story), but still well worth reading. 3.5 stars.So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish: The series takes a turn at this point. Most of the action takes place in England, and some of the key characters from the first three books are missing. Much less zany than the earlier books, book four is more of a love story and served as a fitting conclusion to the series (until book five came out). 4 stars.Mostly Harmless: The weakest entry in the series, according to most readers (including me). The final installment is famously bleak, but still very funny at times. If you enjoyed the first four books, you’ll probably find plenty to like in the finale. 3 stars.The short story, Young Zaphod Plays It Safe, is a brief (14 page) Zaphod tale that takes place before the five novels. It basically builds up to one big joke: (view spoiler)[Ronald Reagan was actually a deeply dangerous synthetic construct (hide spoiler)].Comedy is a subjective thing, and not everyone is going to enjoy Adams’ particular brand of humor. Personally, I have blown through this series three times and while I enjoy some of the books more than others, the whole series is extremely froody as far as I’m concerned. If you want to learn the answer to life, the universe, and everything; if you want to read about hyper-intelligent mice and deeply depressed robots; if you want to learn about Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters and meet the man who rules the universe, this collection is an absolute treat. I remember the first time I read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as a kid and being absolutely delighted that somebody had written this wonderfully funny, silly, insane book – and being overjoyed when I learned there were four more stories to go. If you’ve never had the pleasure of reading Douglas Adams, I hope you have a similar experience. Dive right in, don’t panic, and remember to bring a towel. 4 stars, highly recommended!Reread in 2012.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

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.

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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