The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a truly excellent sci-fi comedy series, conceived and executed by the brilliant Douglas Adams. Originally a radio show, it was later incarnated a book series, a TV show, a few LPs, a computer game, and a movie. The first radio show, produced in 1978 by the BBC, was an underground hit on both sides of the Atlantic, which led to the first book, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979) opening at #1 on bestseller lists.

The first book was followed by The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980), Life, the Universe, and Everything (1982), So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish (1984), and Mostly Harmless (1992). A short story, Young Zaphod Plays It Safe (1986), could be considered part of the series as well, and was originally written to benefit the British charity Comic Relief.

The books chronicle the adventures of one Arthur Dent, an Englishman who wakes up one Thursday morning to find out that his house is about to be bulldozed, his friend Ford Prefect is an alien, and the Earth itself is about to be destroyed. The series does an excellent job of lampooning humanity's strange sense of self-importance. Perhaps this is why CTYers enjoy them so much, as, from their superior intellectual standpoints, are able to see the utter foolishness of what most people consider 'normal'.

I don't wish to give anything away for those who have not yet read the books, but certain concepts/phrases/ideas that are integral to the book and have thus become a part of CTY culture:

  • 42 (The Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything)
  • Towels/Bathrobes
  • Mostly Harmless
  • Don't Panic
  • a Puff of Logic
  • Vogon Poetry
  • God's Last Message to His Creation - "WE APOLOGIZE FOR THE INCONVENIENCE"
  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
  • World's greatest sandwich maker - Arthur Dent
  • The terms "hoopy," "frood" and "zark."

Outside of CTY, it should be noted that May 25 is Towel Day, a day to celebrate all of Hitchhiker culture. Devotees of the series don bathrobes and/or towels, and engage in Hitchhiker-related activities.

Douglas Adams has an asteroid named after him (25924 Douglasadams), and there is another named for Arthur Dent (18610 Arthurdent).

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