The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #1-5)

ISBN: 0517149257
ISBN 13: 9780517149256
By: Douglas Adams

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Genres

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

Cherie

Wow!!!! What the... Did that... But.... Huh????Dx oh my gosh!! This book has the CRAZIEST structure ever! And it's just insane how Douglas Adams can create an ending to this that just takes everything and fits it together like a puzzle. I have to admit I was beginning to get really frustrated with this series because it's everywhere... One moment they are on one planet and then a chapter later they are on another.. Then there are plots that make you wonder what the hell they have to do with anything... (Not to mention that sometimes all you can think is "What the fuck are you talking about?!?")... But at the end it all just makes sense. I adore the characters and the dialogue and interactions between them. This book was hilarious beginning to end and it was just so much fun to read. A bit exhausting after a while, but completely worth it. :)

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.

Lowed

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

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

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

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.

Justin Birdsong

Great read, and a brilliant example of British satire and comedy.

Liz

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

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.

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.

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.)

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.

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.

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"]>

Max

These five novels of wild space adventures offer a pointed satire of life here on earth. The fact that Adams calls the five a trilogy should give you an idea of the writing style. Voyages through the cosmos provide a scaffold for run-on comic sequences and one-liners. Some of the jokes hit home but get repetitive and some are better left in distant parts of the galaxy. As disjointed as the plots are, they do have their moments and I did develop feeling for the main characters. The last book, “Mostly Harmless” nicely brings closure to the series. The novels read easily and are best enjoyed with as little thought as possible. So while I couldn’t derive much of value from Adams’ work, it did serve what must have been its intended purpose, a respite from something meaningful.

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