42 years later, how ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ has endured: NPR

British author Douglas Adams, left, and Nick Landau read Adams’ book The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy in October 1979.

Colin Davey / Evening Standard / Getty Images


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Colin Davey / Evening Standard / Getty Images

British author Douglas Adams, left, and Nick Landau read Adams’ book The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy in October 1979.

Colin Davey / Evening Standard / Getty Images

It’s the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything: 42.

And 42 is now the number of years since the release of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, the first in a series of crazy and beloved sci-fi books by Douglas Adams.

The book follows the Englishman Arthur Dent as he wakes up to discover that the Earth is being torn down to make room for a space path. Adventures unfold across the galaxy with aliens, supercomputers and Marvin, an eternally sad robot.

The iconic sci-fi franchise has taken many forms, including a television show, a movie, Direct theater productions, a computer game and comics. It started as a BBC radio series in 1978.

But it is best known as a book first published in October 1979. And after 42 years, fans still find joy in the humorous characters, absurd plots and subtle lessons that have kept the cultural heritage strong.

Shamini Bundell, a science video journalist at Nature.org, says she’s obsessed with The Hitchhiker’s Guide began early.

“I’m a massive sci-fi fan, and a bit of a nerd,” Bundell says Weekend edition. “I especially remember that at one point I got the whole original radio series and I would listen to it before bed every night on my little CD player next to a bed.”

Bundell said the story is a satire on what is happening around the world and what we do with our planet and is still relevant today.

In history, the Vogons are an alien race that destroys planets to make room for the construction of a new city bypass.

“There are many jokes in Blafferens book about a kind of bureaucracy, as Vogons is an epitome of the fact that they will not do anything without forms signed in triplicate, ”she says.

It reminds Bundell of how world leaders handle big issues, e.g. Climate change, where they come together and say “we must definitely do something about climate change. But in practice the years go by … and we do not.”

Although the series can parody life on a larger scale, it has also moved fans on a personal level.

For Amit Oz, a chef in Hong Kong, the book helped him when he moved from Israel to China when he was young.

“The fact that life is just an adventure and the goal is to have fun. You are there to make the most of what is around you and be a good person while doing it,” Oz says. “And I think it’s anchored when your world is becoming an adventure.”

The chef’s favorite part of Blafferens the series is Milliways, the restaurant at the end of the universe where visitors can see the inverted Big Bang while enjoying a meal. The knowledge of food and eating in the books resonates with him.

“It’s funny because foreigners everywhere come in to do something very human, like sit and eat,” he says.

“If you run around the universe and you can sit down in a spaceship or on another planet and have some noodles with a friend, a new friend or an old friend, it suddenly does not feel so distant or so far away or scary more. “

The influence of Mountain guide “is everywhere,” says Marcus O’Dair, author of The Rough Guide to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

“We can see it in the culture where Adams’ story is rumored to have inspired everything from the band Level 42 to the comedy show Kumars at No. 42,“he says.” We can see it in technology: in the real ‘knife that toasts’, for example, or in-ear translation services reminiscent of The Babel fish. The most visible sign of its omnipresence, however, may be the fact that we can not celebrate anniversaries not at 40 or 50 years, but at 42 – and everyone knows why. “

So no matter how you choose to celebrate, remember that bring your towel.

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