> Skip to content

Article  •  24 September 2019


The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Turns 40

DON’T PANIC! The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the first book in a trilogy of five, celebrates its 40th anniversary on 12 October 2019.

Douglas Adams’ much-loved science fiction classic was first published in 1979, but the story actually started as a radio comedy broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Hitch Hiker’s has also been adapted for a BBC TV series, two stage shows, comic books, two LPs, a video game and a feature film starring Martin Freeman, Zooey Deschanel, Alan Rickman, Sam Rockwell, Mos Def, and Stephen Fry.

The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Trilogy in Five Parts is full of memorable lines, here are ten of our favourites:

  1. There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
  2. ‘Funny,’ he intoned funereally, ‘how just when you think life can’t possibly get any worse it suddenly does.’
  3. Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was, Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the Universe than we do now.
  4. The reason why it was published in the form of a micro sub-meson electronic component is that if it were printed in normal book form, an interstellar hitch hiker would require several inconveniently large buildings to carry it around in.
  5. ‘Forty-two,’ said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.
  6. Not unnaturally, many elevators imbued with intelligence and precognition became terribly frustrated with the mindless business of going up and down, up and down, experimented briefly with the notion of going sideways, as a sort of existential protest, demanded participation in the decision-making process and finally took to squatting in basements sulking.
  7. To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.
  8. In the end, it was the Sunday afternoons he couldn’t cope with, and that terrible listlessness which starts to set in at about 2.55, when you know you’ve taken all the baths that you can usefully have that day, that however hard you stare at any given paragraph in the papers you will never actually read it, or use the revolutionary new pruning technique it describes, and that as you stare at the clock the hands will move relentlessly on to four o’clock, and you will enter the long dark teatime of the soul.
  9. He gazed keenly into the distance and looked as if he would quite like the wind to blow his hair back dramatically at that point, but the wind was busy fooling around with some leaves a little way off.
  10. A towel, [The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy] says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have.


The Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy Douglas Adams

The 'nearly-definitive' omnibus edition of 'the greatest sci-fi novel of all time'

Buy now
Buy now

Looking for more articles?

See all articles