Differences between the US and UK editions of Douglas Adams' "Life, the Universe and Everything".

Major Spoilers all through!

I feel I might need to point something out... I got this document off of the net (or maybe a post), so I'm not the original author. I've just made it available... I have no idea who the original author is, so if that person would like to drop me a line, I'll put the credit on it.


The differences between the US and UK editions are more than can be called "minor". Sure, there are "small" changes (presumably due to some editor believing Americans to be more gentle and tender than the rough barbarian English...) but there are a couple of *major* differences (one of which has been beaten to death here before but what the Hell!)

Like, what's the purpose of changing the chapter numbering? This way we have readers from both sides of the Atlantic giving chapter references which can never be reconciled.

So, here follows a list of the differences I've found. I've used two paperback editions - UK "Pan" from 1982 and US "Pocket" from 1983.

Chapter numbers:

Differences in actual wording:

When the debate about editing/censorship started in this forum a few weeks ago, I felt inclined to interpret the changes in a generous mind - that they were really an improvement; that one fairly flat joke hinged upon a four-letter-word was replaced with a long and quite funny side-track. After comparing the exact wording, however, I must say that I find that "censorship" springs to mind again. The phrase:

'The Most Gratuitous Use Of The Word "Fuck" In A Serious Screenplay. It's very prestigious.'

is clearly a strong slap in the face of the entire 'Oscar' award system. Note the capitalization throughout. The re-wording for the US edition with the changes in type-setting gets a totally different flavour:

"The Most Gratuitous Use of the Word "Belgium" in a Serious Screenplay. It's very prestigious."

Not only does this wording avoid the usage of the word "fuck" which, presumably, could have been offensive to some people, but it also introduces a great deal of confusion which takes the pressure away from the awarding system and instead makes us chuckle at Ostend Hoverport. The decisive evidence, however, comes when the word "unfucked-up" is written "un****ed-up". That is the dead give-away that the entire change is due to the fear of "moral judgement". Even in the BBC radio broadcasts, the narrator said "unfucked-up", clearly and explicitly (remember, though, that in the radio shows this passage came in an entirely different context). Taken together with the changing of "asshole" and "shit" into "kneebiter" and "swut", I find it clearly shown that we do indeed have what has been called "The Most Gratuitous Use of Censorship in a Popular Book".

So, what can we do about it? Not a whole lot, I suspect. Except possibly try to spread the word about it and put pressure on the editors by letting them know we object to such changes.

In a recent posting about Robert Heinlein, we were told that new editions of several older books were due with previously omitted passages re-instated (50 000 words in _SiaSL_???!!!) This is all very nice, but why were they cut out in the first place? I for one strongly object to this (or any) kind of censorship and I find it quite appalling that it goes on, even today!


Add in another one. In the UK, it sounds like a hundred thousand people are saying "wop." In the US, that becomes "whop," no doubt because the first form is most commonly used as derogatory ethnic slang.

[Ed. note:] And yet another one! In the UK version of THHGTTG, it mentions Earth orbiting the sun at a distance of roughly 92 million miles, while in the US edition the sum is displayed as roughly 98 million miles. Why that would need to be changed I can hardly fathom, but as it is, so it is... Also, in the UK version, when Arthur and Ford rematerialize at the cricket match, a man drops dead of a heart attack (Agrajagg) - this has been removed (inexplicably) from the US version.