When I was at school, before I was interested in girls or cars or beer, Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s
Most of the people reading this will be aware of the BBC radio series that kickstarted the phenomenon that is The Hitchhiker’s Guide. You may not be aware, however, of the pieces of vinyl that were also released, mostly in the 1980s, as part of the canon. For instance, did you know that Marvin the Paranoid Android released two 7″ singles? Well, you do now – not only that, but you can download them1. Just head over to to Martin Leese’s Marvin website and have a look around, since it’s an excellent shrine to that particular robot.
There were two LPs made available by Original Records, as a result of the BBC deciding not to issue LPs of their radio series. The LPs that were issued have a slightly different cast (Trillian is played by Cindy Oswin) and the last two episodes follow the plot of the television series, rather than the original radio series’ plot. The final piece of this rather esoteric puzzle is the TV Theme Single. This single was released in 1980 by Original Records, and is comprised of the title theme, two pieces which can be heard in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe LP, and one track by Disaster Area, which includes Douglas Adams playing the electric guitar.
If you’re interested in listening to the TV Theme Single, or the LPs, you can find them in my public folder on Dropbox.
If you are a fan of the Guide (or, in fact, Douglas Adams in general) I heavily recommend ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha, the official Hitchhiker’s Guide appreciation society. I have been a member of this rather decent society since 2002 and it gives me great pleasure to say that I am currently the secretary. Membership is really inexpensive, and you get four copies of their quarterly magazine as well as a membership card and many other privileges, about which you can read on their website. There is also a page listing other websites which is worth a look.
The second place I really think is rather good is alt.fan.douglas-adams, on Usenet. This news
gfroup is jampacked with very cool people and, although it’s currently quite quiet, is always there to talk about Douglas if you should wish to do so. They have a website, on which I have a bio (although I’ll let you find that on your own). People in the froup might have other websites you can go and visit.
I’m not going to recommend any more websites, other than this site. When I last saw it, this was a list of links to other sites, and I thought it was good – since then, the webmaster seems to have merged it with some of his other websites and then let the whole thing slide – but it’s still got links to other major websites worth a look, and you might http://www.health-canada-pharmacy.com find it interesting.
There was in fact more than one computer game based around the Guide. The most recent one was a 3D adventure game similar to such games as Super Mario 64, and information can be found on this game at Planet Magrathea (whilst you’re on that webpage, I recommend you look around – for a long time it was the best source for Guide news available and it’s still worth a look even though it’s now closed and only accessible through the Internet Archive). The other three computer games (I know of only four – if you know of another, please get in touch!) were both text adventures, or Interactive Fiction. The first of those three, reports ‘JeffS’, was based on the Guide even if it wasn’t an official version – that being the Spectrum game, Don’t Panic, Panic Now. You can visit a page which talks about that game, including a walkthrough and download.
Of the other two games released (these being actual Guide games, not homages), one was developed and released by Infocom, and the other by Supersoft. I only found out about the second one because I was looking at pages about the Infocom game a while ago and as I was looking, I came across references to the other game. I managed to track the other one down and download it, and I was displeased to discover that it was an unimaginative and boring waste of time. To make sure that the world realises that the Infocom game had a distant, deformed and inbred cousin, I make this game available to you, my gentle reader. You can look at a walkthrough for the game and you can also find a download of the game itself.
The Infocom game is a brilliant piece of literature as well as being an enjoyable game. You can play it for free, either in its original form or with a new graphical interface, courtesy of the BBC. I have written a walkthrough for the game, which is available from GameFAQs (mine is the one by RogueNine, which is an alias I used to use). If you have a program which can load .sav files and use them ingame, you might want to give this saved game a look – it’s my high score.
However, playing the game online robs it of some of the things that made it great. The instruction booklet, in particular, was a work of genius. The first eight pages were dedicated to a fictional leaflet advertising the Guide itself, whilst the rest got on with the business of telling you how to play. The entire thing was quite funny and well worth buying the original copy for, but the extras that came with it are what really seal that particular deal – JooJanta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril-Sensitive Sunglasses (essentially a pair of sunglasses made of black card); a piece of fluff (no, really. Genuine fluff); no tea (“Just like the tea professional hitchhikers don’t carry!”); a microscopic space fleet (read: empty bag); a “Don’t Panic!” badge (cool for parties) and orders of destruction for both Arthur Dent’s house (in English) and the Earth (in Vogon). How can you bear to pass any of that cool stuff up?!
- Some of you will remember that you used to be able to download the Marvin singles from my website, but since Martin’s site is so much more comprehensive than mine, it seemed silly not to send people over. ↩