The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy , original title The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy , even hitchhike into space abbreviated HHGTTG , LHA or H2G2 , is the most famous work of British writer Douglas Adams . It is a mixture of comedy , satire and science fiction , which was initially broadcast as a radio play series on the BBC radio. The author then developed the work into a series of initially three novels, which he later followed by two more. The material was also implemented as a television series, computer game, comic, musical, play and as a movie. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is both the title of the first book and the name of the series. The story achieved cult status early on , with the author's characteristic humor being particularly well received. On July 24, 2019 it was announced that the streaming provider Hulu was working on a new series adaptation of the material.

History of origin

Originally written as a radio play series for the BBC in 1978, Adams developed the story further. The result was a series of novels, the five parts of which were published between 1979 and 1992. In addition, a television series was produced by the BBC in 1981 , which was later translated into German in a greatly abbreviated form and broadcast. In 1984, in collaboration with Douglas Adams, the story was implemented for a computer game .

Adams said he had the basic idea for his story when he was lying drunk in a field near Innsbruck in 1971 , reading the book The Hitchhiker's Guide to Europe and his gaze fell on the starry sky.

Although the various adaptations reflect the same storyline, there are numerous differences. The representations even contradict each other in individual points. The spaceship “Heart of Gold” in the book has the shape of a sports shoe. In the movie, on the other hand, it has the shape of a teapot. In the book, Trillian is neutral towards Arthur. In the movie, the two protagonists become lovers.


The story on which all versions are based are the adventures of Arthur Dent, an average Englishman who, with the help of his friend Ford Prefect, barely escapes the total destruction of planet earth by an alien race called the Vogons. To Arthur's astonishment, his friend turns out to be an extraterrestrial visitor who traveled the earth for research purposes because of a galactic reference work and, unfortunately, had no further travel for a few years. When the Vogon fleet appears to destroy Earth for the purpose of building a galactic hyperspace express route, Ford takes the opportunity and brings himself and Arthur by means of "Sub-Etha-Sens-O-Matic" (Sub-Etha-Sens-O-Matic, a kind electronic thumb) hitchhiking on board one of the Vogon spaceships, so to speak.

Vogons are not particularly hospitable, however, and so Arthur and Ford are transported through an airlock into space. Instead of perishing in space, the two are saved at the last second by the spaceship Heart of Gold . There Arthur and Ford meet the other main characters of the story: Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ford half-cousin and temporarily President of the Galaxy. Zaphod and Tricia McMillan (called "Trillian"), a woman Arthur met at a party in an Islington apartment , stole the spaceship. The Heart of Gold is the first spaceship to have an infinite improbability drive and can get to any place and time if you can calculate exactly how unlikely it is to be there. Also on board is Marvin, a depressed, suicidal robot . Together they go on a search for the legendary planet Magrathea, which they also find.

On Magrathea they meet Slartibartfaß, who explains to them that the earth was in truth a supercomputer that he helped design. The only purpose of the earth was to find the question of the meaning of life, the universe and all the rest. The answer to the question was already known and was " 42 " and was calculated after seven and a half million years of computing time by an earlier version of the supercomputer Deep Thought , which, however, was unable to formulate the underlying question.

After the Vogons destroyed the earth five minutes before the end of the 10 million year long program, the commissioners try to buy a race of hyper-intelligent, pand-dimensional creatures in the form of white mice, Arthur's brain, because they believe it is part of the computer matrix and hope to be able to filter out the question. After Arthur refuses, the mice try to forcibly remove his brain. At this very moment, however, the galactic police arrive in search of Zaphod. In the resulting confusion, Arthur, Ford, Zaphod and Trillian can flee to the Heart of Gold and decide to eat something first, which leads Adams to the second part of the novel series, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe .

Radio play series

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was first written in two seasons as a radio play series for the BBC. The first episode aired on March 8, 1978 on BBC Radio 4 . After the production of the radio play series, Adams brought the story into a novel, which resulted in the first two volumes.

role speaker
Arthur Dent Simon Jones
Ford Prefect Geoffrey McGivern
Prosser Billie Wallis
Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz
Trillian Susan Sheridan
Zaphod Beeblebrox Mark Wing-Davey
Marvin Stephen Moore
Slartibartfast Richard Vernon
Roosta Alan Ford
Gargravarr Valentine Dyall
Ronald Baddiley
Bird 2 John Baddely
The Wise Old Bird John Le Mesurier
Lintilla Rula Lenska
Hig Hurtenflurst Marc Smith
Waiter Anthony Sharp

In the following decades he wrote three more books, on the basis of which, after his death, three more seasons of the radio play series were produced and broadcast in 2004 and 2005. Many speakers from the original series could be recruited for it. The theme music is the Eagles -Stück Journey of the Sorcerer .

Under the title Per Anhalter ins All , a German radio play variant was produced by BR , SDR and WDR under the direction of Ernst Wendt in 1981/82 , which includes the six episodes of the first English radio series. In 1990/91 further parts were recorded by BR and SWF under the direction of Hartmut Kirste , which comprise the content of the third and fourth books. The title music is by Frank Duval .


Adams later developed a novel from this, which he continued in several volumes (English original title in brackets):

Although there were five volumes in the end, the entire work was consistently referred to as a trilogy , both in the English original and in the German translation . The first four parts were translated into German by Benjamin Schwarz , the fifth part by Sven Böttcher .

The Anhalter series also includes the short story The young Zaphod plays it safe (original title "Young Zaphod Plays it Safe"), which can be seen as a link between the 4th and 5th volume. The story is available in two slightly different versions and has appeared in different anthologies, including a. in the estate volume Lachs im Zweifel (The Salmon of Doubt), ISBN 3-453-40045-3 .

In October 2009 a sequel, written by Eoin Colfer , was released with the permission of Douglas Adams' widow :

Television series

Due to the great popularity of the radio play, a six-part television series was produced in 1981, in which most of the actors of the radio play played (exceptions: David Dixon as Ford Prefect and Sandra Dickinson as Trillian). The series is based on the six episodes of the first radio series, which roughly encompasses the content of the first two books ( The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe ). A second series based on Douglas Adams' Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen project was planned , but was not realized due to various problems. The project later became volume three, Life, the Universe and All the Rest .

The series is available in stores on two DVDs.

Motion picture

In 1997 Douglas Adams signed a contract with Disney / Spyglass with the aim of realizing the novel series as a feature film. Jay Roach was supposed to direct. Adams said in 2001 that he could well imagine Hugh Laurie or Hugh Grant starring Arthur Dent .

The film project began in October 2003. The bestseller Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was filmed by director Garth Jennings . The screenplay , written by Douglas Adams, was edited by Karey Kirkpatrick , who is known among other things for the animated film Chicken Run . Martin Freeman plays the leading role as Arthur Dent . Ford Prefect is implemented by Mos Def . Sam Rockwell plays Zaphod Beeblebrox and Zooey Deschanel plays Trillian . In the English original, the British actor Alan Rickman lends his voice to the depressive robot Marvin. Helen Mirren speaks the super computer "Deep Thought". Stephen Fry is the narrator accompanying the film. Bill Nighy can be seen in the role of Slartibart barrel .

For the theatrical version, Douglas Adams added a new character to the plot: Humma Kavula, the spiritual leader of the Jatravartids. He lost the election of President of the Galaxy to Zaphod Beeblebrox. The role was played by John Malkovich .

The film launch in Germany, Austria and Switzerland was June 9, 2005.


The music of the musical is available on CD: MäGäDäm: Don't Panic . Produced by MäGäDäm (Andrea Bongers, Jo Jacobs) and Tim Brettschneider. Hamburg 1997.


The Linz Theater Phönix realized the material of the first two books in 2001 as a play. Directed by Stefan Kurowski and Jürgen Heib.

Other media

The topic was also implemented in a text adventure computer game by Infocom ( The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy ). The latter has been released to the public by the author and can therefore be played online. Furthermore, the first three Anhalter books were implemented as comics .

Allusions to history can also be found again and again in various computer games (e.g. Marvin serves as a cheat code in Gothic ) or series (e.g. Futurama ).

Mentions in space

Don't panic when flying to Mars (photo from 2018)

During the first flight of the Falcon Heavy rocket of the US space company SpaceX, the slogan Don't Panic was emblazoned on the dashboard of the electric sports car, which was being carried into space as a payload on February 6, 2018 as part of the Falcon Heavy Demonstration Mission has been. In the vehicle's glove compartment there is a copy of the galaxy hitchhiker and a towel. Since then, the roadster has been moving in an orbit around the sun between Earth and Mars orbit . Do not Panic is in the act of hitchhiker to the Galaxy a label on the handbook "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy".


  • Original edition: The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy Pan Books, 1980, ISBN 0-330-25864-8 (also as: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy , and as: The Illustrated Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy , 1994).
  • English: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Translated by Benjamin Schwarz . Rogner & Bernhard, 1981, ISBN 3-8077-0171-0 . Also as: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Novel about the Film With an afterword by Robbie Stamp. Heyne, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-453-50016-4 .
  • Radio play: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Space. Speaker: Dieter Borsche , Klaus Löwitsch , Bernhard Minetti u. a. Translated by Benjamin Schwarz. Director: Ernst Wendt . Bavarian radio. The Hör-Verlag, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-89584-198-6 .
  • Audiobook on audio cassette: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. 6 parts. Klett, Stuttgart 1987/1988.
  • Audiobook: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: Complete Reading. Read by Christian Ulmen . Director: Kai Lüftner . Translated by Benjamin Schwarz. The Hörverlag, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-8445-0562-8 .

See also


  • Neil Gaiman : Don't Panic - With Douglas Adams Through The Galaxy . Ullstein, 1990, ISBN 3-548-22272-2 . (A small compendium about the hitchhiker , background and origin, as well as some biographical data from Douglas Adams )
  • Klaus Schmeh: The cult factor - from marketing to myth: 42 success stories from Rolex to Jägermeister . Redline Economy, 2004, ISBN 3-636-01082-4 . (Includes an in-depth chapter on The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and its associated cult)
  • Michael Hanlon: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - in the light of science . Rowohlt, 2005, ISBN 3-499-62097-9 .
  • Glenn Yeffeth (Ed.): The Anthology at the End of the Universe: Leading Science Fiction Authors on Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy . Benbella, 2005, ISBN 1-932100-56-3 .
  • Dieter Petzold: The lust for downfall: eschatological issues and black humor in (post) modern English-language literature. In: D. Petzold: Future of the fantastic - the fantastic of the future. (= Inklings yearbook for literature and aesthetics. Volume 18). Brendow, Moers 2000, ISBN 3-87067-853-4 , pp. 178-201.
  • Johannes Rüster: A creator of the sad figure. In: Thomas Le Blanc, Johannes Rüster (Hrsg.): Beliefs: Gods in Science-Fiction and Fantasy . (= Fantastic Library. Volume 88). Wetzlar 2005, DNB 976169029 .
  • Reinhard Gratzke (Ed.): Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy . Reclam, 2008, ISBN 978-3-15-019744-8 .
  • Dieter Petzold, Eberhard Späth (ed.): Entertainment literature of the eighties and nineties . University of Erlangen-Nuremberg University Library, 1998, ISBN 3-930357-25-9 .

Web links

German-language links

Links in English

Individual evidence

  1. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Iconic Sci-Fi Adventure Returns as a Series. In: Retrieved July 26, 2019 .
  2. BBC: the hitch-hiker's guide to the galaxy - guide to the guide
  3. What's the Difference between The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy the Book and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy the Movie? In: Accessed November 10, 2019 .
  4. Elon Musk: Twitter message from December 8, 2017.