Author Douglas Adams
Teaser/Reader Annotation Remember to carry a towel, and whatever you do, don't panic and your trip across the galaxy will turn out alright in the end. Well, so long as you don't spur the curiosity of Mice as Arthur Dent did.
Plot Summary Arthur Dent is your average, Earth-bound human being until learns that his friend Ford Perfect is actually a researcher from another planet and finds himself in a space cruiser on a trip across the galaxy. Dent's travels take a turn for the even more bizarre on the President of the Galaxy Beeblebrox's ship, Heart of Gold, with its brand new Infinite Improbability Drive. It turns out that Beeblebrox and his crew are searching for the legendary planet of Magrathea where they are manufacturing luxury planets. When Arthur looses track of the group and is taken to the center of the planet, he discovers that Earth was actually a super-computer designed to find the answer to life, the universe, and everything. After the answer given by the computer, 42, did not satisfy the creator's quest, they re-programmed the computer to calculate the ultimate question. Ten-million years later, five minutes before the completion of the program, Earth was destroyed at the start of Dent's journey. Now Arthur must find his friends and escape before the Mice catch him to pull the question from his own brain. Above all, he must remember: Don't Panic.
Critical Evaluation One of the most interesting, and little known, facts about this book is that though it was originally published in 1979, every subsequent edition has been slightly changed and added to meaning no two editions are alike. The sarcastic, dry humor in this book will satisfy any Monty Python-loving reader with the abstract jokes and references. At the same time, hidden beneath the hilarity and wit are poignant facts and comments about life and living. For this reason, a reader could pick up the book multiple times and draw something new from it with each read-through. The character of perfectly-normal Arthur provided a foil for the absurdity of the rest of the characters and settings. He also served as an important lesson to the reader by adapting to every situation, no matter how illogical or odd. For fans of comedy and science-fiction alike, this clever novel is sure to please.
About the Author Douglas Adams was an English writer best known for the Hitchhiker's Guide “trilogy in five parts” which started as a series on the radio in 1978. Though it was not expected to do nearly as well as it did, the series became a smash hit selling over fifteen-million copies throughout his lifetime and was adapted into a television series, several plays, and a motion picture – among other things. His other works, while not as well-known, are also within the science-fiction genre.
Adams was born March 11, 1952 in Cambridge, England to parents Janet and Christopher who divorced when he was five. Even as early as prep school, his remarkable writing abilities stood out, drawing interest from his peers and teachers alike. His first published works were in the school paper both in the form of reports and spoofs. Sadly his passed away May 11, 2001 after a long life and great contribution to the science-fiction world.
Primary Genre Science-fiction
Secondary Genre Adventure
Curriculum Ties Astronomy, Physics
Brainstorm ideas for what the great question could have been to make the answer 42. Whimsical or realistic, it doesn't matter.
Reading Level/Interest Age This is a high-grade level novel suitable for the more advanced readers.
Challenge Issues Mild profanity but not enough that I believe it would be challenged.
Why is it included? Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide started a new genre of comedic science-fiction that has been quoted and referenced many times over.