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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

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Summary - The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is the first of six books in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy comedy science fiction “hexalogy” by Douglas Adams.

The novel opens with an introduction describing the human race as a primitive and deeply unhappy species as well as the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy which provides information on every planet in the galaxy. Earthman Arthur Dent awakes in his home in West Country, England, to discover that the local planning council is trying to demolish his house to build a bypass and lies down in front of the bulldozer to stop it. His friend Ford Prefect—an alien researcher for Guide from a small planet in the vicinity of Betelgeuse who has been posing as an out-of-work actor from Guildford for 15 years—convinces the lead bureaucrat Mr. Prosser to lie down in front of the bulldozer for Arthur so that he can buy him six pints of beer at the pub. The construction crew begins demolishing the house anyway, but stop when a fleet of alien spaceships arrives on Earth undetected by human space agencies. The Vogons, a callous race of civil servants running the fleet, announce that they have come to demolish Earth to make way for a hyperspace expressway. Ford and Arthur hitch a ride from the Dentrassis, who serve as the cooks on the fleet, and are allowed onto a spaceship traveling to Barnard’s Star. They are quickly discovered by the Vogons, who torture them by forcing them to listen to their poetry and then toss them out of an airlock.

Meanwhile Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ford’s “semi-cousin” and the President of the Galaxy, steals the spaceship Heart of Gold at its unveiling with his human companion, Trillian. The Heart of Gold is enabled with an “Infinite Improbability Drive” that allows it to travel instantaneously to any point in space by simultaneously passing through every point in the universe at once. After being tossed into space Arthur and Ford are rescued by the Heart of Gold as it travels with the Infinite Improbability Drive. Zaphod takes his passengers—Arthur, Ford, a depressed robot named Marvin, and Trillian—to a legendary planet known as Magrathea. Magrathea was said to have been a planet whose inhabitants specialized in custom-building planets for others, but caused themselves to become rich as the rest of the galaxy became poor and disappeared. Although Ford initially doubts that the planet is Magrathea, the planet’s computers send them warning messages to leave before firing two nuclear missiles at the Heart of Gold. Arthur inadvertently saves them by activating the Infinite Improbability Drive improperly, causing the Heart of Gold to remain in Magrathea and for the missiles to transform into a sperm whale and a bowl of petunias. The whale, which unsuccessfully tries to make sense of its existence as it falls to the surface, opens a passage underground on its impact. As the ship lands Trillian’s pet mice Frankie and Benjy escape.

On Magrathea, Zaphod, Ford, and Trillian venture down to the planet’s interior while leaving Arthur and Marvin outside. Arthur is met by a man named Slartibartfast, who explains that the Magratheans have been in stasis to wait out an economic recession. The Magratheans temporarily reawakened to reconstruct a second version of Earth commissioned by mice, who were in fact the most intelligent species on Earth. In the factory workshop Slartibartfast shows Arthur that in the distant past a race of “hyperintelligent, pan-dimensional beings” created a supercomputer named Deep Thought to determine the answer to the “Ultimate Question to Life, the Universe, and Everything.” Two philosophers representing a trade association, Majikthise and Vroomfondel, arrived and complained that the computer would remove uncertainty and end their jobs and demanded its deactivation. However, Deep Thought revealed that it would take 7.5 million years to complete calculations and reasoned that during that time they could argue over what the computer’s answer will be. 7.5 million years later the philosophers’ descendants asked Deep Thought for the answer, which it announces is the number 42. Deep Thought tells its creators that the answer makes no sense to them because they didn’t know what the “Ultimate Question” had been in the first place, so he suggested designing an even greater computer to determine what the Ultimate Question was. This computer is actually the planet Earth, which was constructed by the Magratheans, and was five minutes away from finishing its task and figuring out the Ultimate Question when the Vogons destroyed it. The hyperintelligent superbeings participated in the program as mice, performing experiments on humans while pretending to be experimented on.

Slartibartfast takes Arthur to see his friends, who are at a feast hosted by Trillian’s pet mice. They reject the idea of building a new Earth to start the process over and offer to buy Arthur’s brain in case it contains the question, leading to a fight when he declines. Zaphod saves Arthur from having his brain removed as police from the planet Blagulon Kappa arrive to arrest Zaphod. The mice, hoping to start a lucrative career on chat shows and the lecture circuit in their home dimension, decide to pretend that the Ultimate Question was “How many roads must a man walk down?” After the police repeatedly shoot at Zaphod they suddenly die when their life-support systems short-circuit. Suspicious, Ford discovers on the surface that Marvin became bored and explained his view of the universe to the police officers’ spaceship, causing it to commit suicide. The five leave Magrathea and decide to go to The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.


Author: Douglas Adams
Book released: 12/10/1979
Book genres: comedy science fiction
Special offers: AMAZON


How many chapters in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?


List of chapters in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33
Chapter 34
Chapter 35

How many pages in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?


How many words in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?

264917 WORDS

How long to read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?

Reading speed: words / minute

Estimated reading time:

hours minutes


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