Geek Trivia

What Popular Sci-Fi Book Began Life As A Radio Show?

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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
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Cover art for the first part of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio series

Answer: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Although many fans were introduced to Douglas Adams’ wonderful The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy universe via the very popular novel (and its also popular sequels like So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish), the novel was not, in fact, the first incarnation of the series.

Prior to the publication of the novel in 1979, the Hitchhiker’s universe was actually the sole province of a very well-received radio series released on the British radio station BBC Radio 4 in 1978. It was broadcast that spring in a series of six 30 minute segments which, despite the late evening airtime, proved to be enormously popular with listeners. It was so popular, in fact, that a second series of six segments was commissioned for the fall schedule roster (although not all the segments aired that year).

That, in turn, was so well received that the first and second series, known as Primary Phase and Secondary Phase, were adapted for the stage and run as stage shows in 1979 and 1980, released as records, and finally, in the fall of 1979, Douglas Adams released the novel adaptation of the first part of the radio series in its full glory. The entire franchise of radio shows, stage shows, and novel adaptation was so well received that he went on to write and publish another novel (The Restaurant at the End of the Universe) within a matter of months. In 1981, the BBC’s television division ran a TV series adaptation of the radio shows.

Years later, and after Douglas had written several more novels in the franchise, the Hitchhiker’s universe returned to radio in 2004 with a BBC sponsored series that ran for a year and added in an additional fourteen segments. In 2005, the book was adapted into a movie that rounded out the list of mediums the popular sci-fi series had appeared in to include: radio, stage, television, print, and the silver screen. So regardless of how you want to get your Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fix, there’s no need to panic: you can have it on the page, the stage, the screen, or by ear.