Title: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Author: Douglas Adams
Publish Date: October 12, 1979
Genre: Science Fiction, Comedy
Page Length (if known): Approximately 224 pages
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, written by Douglas Adams, is a science fiction comedy that takes its readers on an extraordinary intergalactic journey. It follows the misadventures of an ordinary human named Arthur Dent, who is whisked away from Earth just moments before its destruction to make room for a hyperspace bypass.
The story unfolds in distinct sections or chapters, each presenting a unique set of challenges and encounters. It begins with Arthur Dent's mundane life on Earth, unaware that his friend Ford Prefect, an alien researcher working for an extraterrestrial guidebook called The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, is actually from another planet. Ford reveals their impending doom and rescues Arthur, hitching a ride aboard a Vogon constructor fleet ship.
As Arthur and Ford navigate through space, they face various peculiarities of the universe. They get picked up by the Heart of Gold, a stolen spaceship piloted by Zaphod Beeblebrox, a two-headed, three-armed ex-Galactic President. Zaphod, accompanied by Trillian, a woman Arthur once met at a party, and Marvin, a perpetually depressed robot, embarks on a quest to uncover the ultimate answer to the meaning of life.
Their adventures take them to diverse locations, like the planet of Magrathea, known for its lucrative custom planet-building business. There, they encounter ancient beings who share the shocking revelation that Earth was an elaborate product commissioned by mice as part of a cosmic experiment. The mice, and all-around curious beings disguised as mice, are the true rulers of the universe seeking the question to match the answer "42."
Throughout the story, the characters face numerous predicaments, from battling a species of super intelligent beings who determine their existence's value based on how useful they are, to narrowly escaping a planet's destruction. The narrative also delves into philosophical themes, questioning the absurdity of existence and the search for purpose in a vast and chaotic cosmos.
As the group continues their extraordinary odyssey, they stumble upon the legendary planet of the Guide's creators and lose Marvin, who altruistically sacrifices himself to save them. Along the way, they acquire a new version of Marvin and unravel the dual identity of Zaphod, who had stolen the Heart of Gold to embark on his personal quest.
The story concludes with a remarkable revelation, intertwining unlikely events and connections. Zaphod discovers the ultimate question, concealed within his own mind, while Arthur realigns with his love interest, Trillian. Although their search for the meaning of life doesn't provide a definitive answer, the characters learn to accept and embrace the uncertainty and unpredictability of the universe.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, with its witty and satirical narrative, showcases Adams' unique style of blending science fiction elements with humor. It captivates readers, provoking thought and laughter while exploring profound themes of existentialism, absurdity, and the human condition. This influential work continues to inspire and entertain, reminding us of the vastness and unpredictability of our own existence.