The 42 Things You Should Know About 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy'

Beyond The Guide

Ford and Arthur consult The Guide.
Ford and Arthur consult The Guide.
Photo courtesy © 2005 Touchstone Pictures, All rights reserved

Whether or not you've ever even heard of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, chances are you are familiar with some aspect of the tale. References and homages to this epic tale have permeated almost every aspect of pop culture, arts, science and technology.

28.) The Hitchhiker's Guide computer game came out in 1984, to wide acclaim. It was a text-based adventure that Douglas himself co-designed with Steve Meretzky. It came with JooJanta peril-sensitive sunglasses, and a miniature battle fleet. It was very advanced for its day and nearly impossible to complete. You can still play it online here.

29.) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was brought to the stage by Ken Cambell. The first production took place at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in May 1979. The first run was very successful and had the audience seated on an enormous hovercraft.

Ken Campbell eventually staged an even more lavish version of his original production featuring lasers, revolving stages, and a theater remodeled to look like a spaceport. The team promoted the production by throwing a huge inflatable whale off of London's Tower Bridge. Despite the unique marketing, the production failed miserably.

30.) In the universe of The Hitchhiker's Guide, the Babel fish is a tiny parasitic fish that travelers put in their ear. Once in place, the fish will automatically translate any language in the galaxy to the native tongue of the host. Altavista's on-line translator is named Babel Fish after the tiny Douglas-created creature. Check it out.

31.) The instant messenging program Trillian was named after The Hitchhiker's heroine of the same name.

Ford, Arthur and Zaphod Ford, Arthur and Zaphod
Ford, Arthur and Zaphod
Photo courtesy © 2005 Touchstone Pictures, All rights reserved

32.) If you type in, "what is the answer to life, the universe, and everything?" (all lower case) into the Google calculator, you'll get the answer, "42" (the same answer to this question as found in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy). Try it. (You have to scroll down the page to get to the calculator.)

33.) The Radiohead song, Paranoid Android is a refrerence to Marvin the Paranoid Android.

34.) One of the most popular message boards on the Internet is GameFAQs' Life, the Universe, and Everything. It's named after the third book in The Hitchhiker's series.

35.) Christopher Cerf, the man behind the PBS Kids' series Between the Lions, admits that the "42" on the character Lionel's rugby jersey is a deliberate homage to Douglas Adams and his creation.

36.) South Park's Towlie often says, "Don't forget to bring a towel," an obvious nod to the sound advice of The Guide.

37.) FPS game granddaddy GoldenEye: 007 for Nintendo 64 featured the "Mostly Harmless" multiplayer award for player who earned the least kills in a match. In the Guide, "Mostly harmless" is the revised entry used to describe Earth.

Magrathea Magrathea
Photo courtesy © 2005 Touchstone Pictures, All rights reserved

38.) The online children's game Neopets features an item called the Pan Galactic Gargle Slushie. This is the kiddie version of the The Hitchhiker's Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. According to the guide, the Gargle Blaster is one the best (and most dangerous) adult beverages in this or any other galaxy.

39.) Dippy video game villain and reoccurring Easter egg, the Dopefish, is known widely in the world of video games as "the second dumbest creature in the universe." When Tom Hall originally created the Dopefish for the fourth installment of the Commander Keen series, he referred to it as the "second dumbest" because as all good Guide readers know, the dumbest creature in the universe is the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.

40.) For his 42nd birthday, Adams got to play guitar for Pink Floyd at a concert. The public jam session was a birthday gift from his old friend Dave Gilmour. Around the same time, Pink Floyd's David Gilmour asked Douglas Adams to help him name a Pink Floyd album they were working on at the time. He did, and in 1994 Pink Floyd released The Division Bell. To thank Adams, Gilmour contributed £5000 to Adams' favorite charity.

41.) The day before Adams death, The Minor Planet Centre of the International Astronomical Union named asteroid 18610, "Arthurdent" after the main character in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, Arthur Dent.

42.) There are exactly 41 interesting facts about The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. No more, no less.

More Info on The Guide

The BBC Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Cult Site

Megadodo Publications

ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha

Douglas Adams Portal

Planet Magrethea