The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the first book in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book series by Douglas Adams.

Plot summary[]

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy begins with contractors arriving at Arthur Dent's house, in order to demolish it to make way for a bypass. His friend, Ford Prefect, arrives while Arthur is lying in front of the bulldozers, to stop them from demolishing it. He tries to explain to Arthur that he is actually from a planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse and that the Earth is about to be demolished. The Vogons, an alien race, intend to destroy Earth to make way for a hyperspace bypass.

The two escape by hitching a lift on one of the Vogons' ships; this is, however, against Vogon regulations and when the pair are discovered, they are tortured with a rendition of Vogon poetry, the third worst in the known Universe, and then thrown into space. They are, very improbably, picked up by the Heart of Gold, a ship powered by an infinite improbability drive, and has been stolen by Ford's semi-cousin and President of the Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox. Zaphod, accompanied by Trillian and the clinically depressed robot Marvin, are searching for the legendary planet of Magrathea.

There, Arthur, after being separated from the rest of the group, is taken to the interior of Magrathea by Slartibartfast, a native of the planet. As the others, except Marvin, are kidnapped, Slartibartfast explains to Arthur that the Earth is actually a supercomputer commissioned and paid for by a race of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings. These creatures had earlier built a supercomputer named Deep Thought, to calculate the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. This computer, after seven and a half million years of calculating, had announced that the Answer is in fact 42. Being unsatisfied with the Answer, they set about finding the Question. Deep Thought designed a computer, the Earth, to calculate the Question. However, ten million years later, and just five minutes before the completion of the program, the Earth is demolished by the Vogons. The manifestations of two of these beings, Frankie and Benjy Mouse, had arrived on Magrathea on the Heart of Gold, disguised as Trillian's pet mice.

The mice realise that Arthur, as a last-generation non-organic by-product of the computer, has the Question imprinted into his brain and offer to buy his brain from him. Arthur disagrees, and a fight ensues. The mice are about to cut Arthur's head open, when klaxons all over the planet create a diversion, in which they escape. The galactic police had arrived on the planet to arrest Zaphod. The group is attacked by 2 members of the police, Shooty and Bang Bang, who abruptly die when their life support systems fail: Marvin had explained his view of the universe to the mother ship's computer and it committed suicide, taking their life support systems with it. Then the group decides to go to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe for lunch.


Jonny Brock and Clare Gorst
and all other Arlingtonians
for tea, sympathy, and a sofa


Main Characters[]

Minor Characters[]




Races and species[]