42 years later, how 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' has endured The first Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book was published in October 1979. Fans are looking back at how the series has endured in popularity and why it's still relevant.

It's been 42 years since 'The Hitchhiker's Guide' answered the ultimate question

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

What is the answer to life, the universe and everything?

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY")

HELEN MIRREN: (As Deep Thought) 42.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (As character) What?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And that's how long ago Douglas Adams's "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" was born, the first in what he called a trilogy of six books - you do the math - the tale of how one ordinary Englishman, Arthur Dent, wakes up to find that Earth is about to be demolished to make way for an intergalactic bypass.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY")

MARTIN FREEMAN: (As Arthur Dent) What the hell are those things?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What follows is an adventure across the galaxy filled with aliens, supercomputers and a perpetually sad robot named Marvin.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY")

WARWICK DAVIS: (As Marvin) I won't enjoy it.

ZOOEY DESCHANEL: (As Trillian) Yeah, well, that's life.

DAVIS: (As Marvin) Life, don't talk to me about life.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The story has taken many forms - a BBC radio show, a TV series and a movie. And fans say the story's humorous characters, absurd plots and subtle lessons have kept its legacy going strong.

SHAMINI BUNDELL: My name is Shamini Bundell. I'm a science video journalist. I'm also a massive sci-fi fan and a bit of a geek, basically.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Shamini Bundell's obsession with "The Hitchhiker's Guide" began early.

BUNDELL: I remember in particular at one point getting the entire original radio series on a CD and would listen to it before bed each night on my little CD player next to my bed.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: She says Douglas Adams' story mirrors so much of our world today.

BUNDELL: It's satire on what happens around the world and what we're doing to our own planet but on a sort of bigger scale.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Take the Vogons, for example, an alien civil servant race destroying planets - not for any nefarious reasons, though, but to make way for the construction of a new hyperspace bypass.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY")

RICHARD GRIFFITHS: (As Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz) And your planet is one of those scheduled for demolition.

BUNDELL: There's a lot of jokes about sort of bureaucracy. The Vogons being the sort of epitome of - they won't do anything without forms signed in triplicate, et cetera, et cetera.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And Shamini says it reminds her of how leaders on Earth are trying to deal with major issues.

BUNDELL: Today, we're facing world leaders sort of getting together and saying, yes, we should definitely do something about climate change. The years go by, and we don't.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And while the series can parody life on a larger scale, it's also moved fans on a personal level. Amit Oz is a chef from Hong Kong. His family moved from Israel to China when he was younger, and the books helped him understand that journey.

AMIT OZ: The fact that life is just an adventure and your - the goal is to have fun. You're there to make the most of what's around you and be a good person while you do it. And I think that's grounding when your world is becoming an adventure.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: There's also a particular place in the book that's a favorite

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY")

COLIN JEAVONS: (As Max Quordlepleen) So welcome, one and all, to Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

(LAUGHTER)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And that's where diners could witness the literal end of the world as we know it as they enjoy a meal. And as a chef, that's something Amit found striking.

OZ: It's funny because aliens from everywhere are coming in to do something that is very human, which is sit around and eat and, I guess, celebrate and at the same time, watch in awe as everything is completely falling apart.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: He says the familiarity of food and dining that he loves about his work is also such a significant part of the books.

OZ: There's a safety in eating. If you are hitchhiking around the universe and - but 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 doesn't feel that distant or that far away or scary anymore.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And, as Shamini says, the story can make us reflect on who we are as a species.

BUNDELL: I think most people are reading these books for the humor, and I think that's why, really, they're so endearing. But they have a very specific ability to satirize lots of sort of recognizable elements of the human condition.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So remember; if you ever find your planet scheduled for destruction - and let's face it, that may happen,- grab a towel, a friend, and most importantly, don't panic.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SO LONG AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH")

HILARY SUMMERS, KEMI OMINIYI AND THE R'SVP VOICES: (Singing) So long, and thanks for all the fish. So sad that it should come to this. We tried to warn you of the deal. You may not share our intellect, which might explain your disrespect...

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