The answer to life, the universe and everything is, well – you’re not going to like this, 42.
When I was very, very young I picked up the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy “trilogy”, started into the first book, and for some unknown reason lost interest in it. I can’t imagine why. I finally picked them up again and have thoroughly enjoyed (re-)reading the story of Arthur Dent, Zaphod Beeblebrox and Marvin (the paranoid android). Douglas Adams’ Guide series is of course one of the most popular satirical works of fiction (“more controversial than Oolon Colluphid’s trilogy of philosophical blockbusters Where God Went Wrong, Some More Of God’s Greatest Mistakes and Who Is This God Person Anyway?“) and was the crowning achievement of Adams’ unfortunately short career.
Don’t panic. For more information about the story and where it has since left off (movie deals, cultural influence, hidden meanings, etc.), check out A vague and rather incomplete look at The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – quite a good rundown.