The edition of the Guide that replaced all others in my library, it contains an introduction by Douglas Adams that adds interesting details for fans of the series in his characteristic voice. Originally a radio series, it was produced by the BBC. “I think that the BBC’s attitude toward the show while it was in production was very similar to that which Macbeth had toward murdering people–initial doubts, followed by cautious enthusiasm and then greater and greater alarm at the sheer scale of the undertaking and still no end in sight.”
Adams continues that while the show was fun, “it didn’t exactly buy you lunch,” so he turned it into a book “in which some of the characters behaved in entirely different ways and others behaved in exactly the same ways but for entirely different reasons, which amounts to the same thing but saves rewriting the dialogue.” Supposedly, this edition is “complete and unabridged,” although, since Adams kept changing things, I’m not sure how ‘complete’ it is. It does have a bonus short story, “Young Zaphod Plays it Safe.“
This edition contains The Hitchhiker’s Guide,The Restaurant at the End of the Universe and Life, the Universe and Everything and looks suspiciously like the Good News Bible I was given as a child, with paper-thin, gold-leafed pages, albeit with a bonus cloth bookmark and leather binding. Honestly, it’s probably fitting, as it was my go-to mockery of the world for at least a decade, and remains a strong influence.
It’s responsible for my search for the perfect drink:
[The Guide] says that the best drink in existence is the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. It says that the effect of a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.
It’s probably responsible for crystalizing my view of the human race:
One of the things Ford Prefect had always found hardest to understand about humans was their habit of continually stating and repeating the very very obvious, as in It’s a nice day, or You’re very tall, or Oh dear you seem to have fallen down a thirty-foot well, are you alright? At first Ford had formed a theory to account for this strange behaviour. If human beings don’t keep exercising their lips, he thought, their mouths probably seize up. After a few months’ consideration and observation he abandoned this theory in favour of a new one. If they don’t keep on exercising their lips, he thought, their brains start working. After a while he abandoned this one as well as being obstructively cynical.
It’s definitely responsible for my love of word-play:
The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.
“You’d better be prepared for the jump into hyperspace. It’s unpleasantly like being drunk.”
“What’s so unpleasant about being drunk?”
“Ask a glass of water.”
And it’s clearly responsible for a personal running joke of 35 years, which I use to gauge the sci-fi and humor literacy of the people around me:
Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.
*And may I just add that as of May 6, 2017, the average star rating for the book is 4.20?
I rest my case.