SF Masterwork of the Week: Life, the Universe and Everything

‘Oh Deep Thought Computer,’ he said, ‘the task we have designed you to perform is this. We want you to tell us . . .’ he paused ‘. . . the Answer!’
‘The Answer?’ said Deep Thought. ‘The Answer to what?’
‘Life!’ urged Fook.
‘The Universe!’ said Lunkwill.
‘Everything!’ they said in chorus.

Most of you will have spotted that as a pivotal moment in Douglas Adams‘ wonderful science fiction comedy The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Anyone who didn’t is hereby ordered to go and read it immediately before going any further with this post. Go on: we’ll wait.

Are you done?

Good; then we’ll go on. No, wait! You’d better read The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, too. Done? OK, now, we’ll go on . . .

The concept of the supercomputer, Deep Thought, and the vexing question to the answer of Life, the Universe and Everything, informs all of Adams’ subsequent Hitchhiker books, and gives the third (and middle) book in the trilogy its title. We are delighted to be publishing Life, the Universe and Everything in hardback as part of our SF Masterworks series and especially proud to have an introduction by John Lloyd, who collaborated with Adams on the radio series (among many, many other claims to fame, such as being the creator of QI).

Only five individuals stand between the killer robots of Krikkit and their goal of the total annihilation of the universe. They are Arthur Dent, homeless Englishman currently marooned in the deep past; his friend Ford Prefect, temporarily insane to see if he likes it, also marooned; Slartibartfast, once of the planet builders of Magrathea; Zaphod Beeblebrox, ex-confidence trickster and part-time galactic president; and Trillian, the sexy space cadet who is torn between a persistent Thunder God and a very depressed Beeblebrox.

In other words: we’re doomed.