The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams—eventually continued by Eoin Colfer after Douglas' death—started as a comedy radio play on the BBC in 1978 and expanded into a TV series, a series of novels, and a feature film. The story follows the adventures of Arthur Dent, the last human who hitched a ride off Earth moments before it was destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass.
- 1 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979 novel)
- 1.1 Introduction
- 1.2 Chapter 1
- 1.3 Chapter 2
- 1.4 Chapter 3
- 1.5 Chapter 4
- 1.6 Chapter 5
- 1.7 Chapter 6
- 1.8 Chapter 7
- 1.9 Chapter 8
- 1.10 Chapter 9
- 1.11 Chapter 10
- 1.12 Chapter 11
- 1.13 Chapter 12
- 1.14 Chapter 13
- 1.15 Chapter 16
- 1.16 Chapter 17
- 1.17 Chapter 18
- 1.18 Chapter 20
- 1.19 Chapter 23
- 1.20 Chapter 24
- 1.21 Chapter 27
- 1.22 Chapter 28
- 1.23 Chapter 30
- 1.24 Chapter 34
- 1.25 Chapter 35
- 2 The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980)
- 3 Life, the Universe and Everything (1982)
- 4 So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (1984)
- 5 Mostly Harmless (1992)
- 6 And Another Thing... (2009)
- 7 Radio Series
- 8 TV Series
- 9 Young Zaphod Plays it Safe
- 10 External links
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979 novel)
- This planet has—or rather had—a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much all of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.
- Many were increasingly of the opinion that they'd all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans.
- In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitchhiker's Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopaedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects.
First, it is slightly cheaper; and secondly it has the words DON'T PANIC inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.
- "But the plans were on display . . ."
"On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."
"That's the display department."
"With a torch."
"Ah, well the lights had probably gone."
"So had the stairs."
"But look, you found the notice, didn't you?"
"Yes," said Arthur, "yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard."
- "Some factual information for you. Have you any idea how much damage that bulldozer would suffer if I just let it roll straight over you?"
"How much?" said Arthur.
"None at all," said Mr. Prosser.
- "The mere thought," growled Mr. Prosser, "hadn't even begun to speculate," he continued, settling himself back, "about the merest possibility of crossing my mind."
- [The Guide] says that the best drink in existence is the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. It says that the effect of a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.
- "Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so."
"Very deep," said Arthur, "you should send that in to the Reader's Digest. They've got a page for people like you."
- "This must be Thursday," said Arthur to himself, sinking low over his beer, "I never could get the hang of Thursdays."
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has a few things to say on the subject of towels.
A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. Partly it has great practical value—you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble‐sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand‐to‐hand‐combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindbogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you—daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
- More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: nonhitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, washcloth, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet-weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might have accidentally "lost.". What the strag will think is that any man that can hitch the length and breadth of the Galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through and still know where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.
- Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in "Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There's a frood who really knows where his towel is." (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)
- The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't.
- People of Earth, your attention, please. This is Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council. As you will no doubt be aware, the plans for development of the outlying regions of the Galaxy require the building of a hyperspatial express route through your star system. And regrettably, your planet is one of those scheduled for demolition. The process will take slightly less than two of your Earth minutes. Thank you.
- There’s no point in acting surprised about it. All the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display at your local planning department in Alpha Centauri for 50 of your Earth years, so you’ve had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaint and it’s far too late to start making a fuss about it now. ... What do you mean you’ve never been to Alpha Centauri? Oh, for heaven’s sake, mankind, it’s only four light years away, you know. I’m sorry, but if you can’t be bothered to take an interest in local affairs, that’s your own lookout. Energize the demolition beams.
- I don't know, apathetic bloody planet, I've no sympathy at all.
- There was a terrible ghastly silence.
There was a terrible ghastly noise.
There was a terrible ghastly silence.
- It was for the sake of this day that he had first decided to run for the Presidency, a decision which had sent waves of astonishment throughout the Imperial Galaxy—Zaphod Beeblebrox? President? Not the Zaphod Beeblebrox? Not the President? Many had seen it as a clinching proof that the whole of known creation had finally gone bananas.
- The President is always a controversial choice, always an infuriating but fascinating character. His job is not to wield power but to draw attention away from it.
- One of the things Ford Prefect had always found hardest to understand about humans was their habit of continually stating and repeating the very very obvious, as in It's a nice day, or You're very tall, or Oh dear you seem to have fallen down a thirty-foot well, are you alright? At first Ford had formed a theory to account for this strange behaviour. If human beings don't keep exercising their lips, he thought, their mouths probably seize up. After a few months' consideration and observation he abandoned this theory in favour of a new one. If they don't keep on exercising their lips, he thought, their brains start working. After a while he abandoned this one as well as being obstructively cynical.
- "If I asked you where the hell we were," said Arthur weakly, "would I regret it?"
Ford stood up. "We're safe," he said.
"Oh good," said Arthur.
"We're in a small galley cabin," said Ford, "in one of the spaceships of the Vogon Constructor Fleet."
"Ah," said Arthur, "this is obviously some strange usage of the word safe that I wasn't previously aware of."
- "Vogon Constructor Fleets. Here is what to do if you want to get a lift from a Vogon: forget it. They are one of the most unpleasant races in the Galaxy—not actually evil, but bad-tempered, officious and callous. They wouldn't even lift a finger to save their own grandmothers from the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal without orders signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public inquiry, queried, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighters.
"The best way to get a drink out of a Vogon is to stick your finger down his throat, and the best way to irritate him is to feed his grandmother to the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.
"On no account allow a Vogon to read poetry at you."
- "The Babel fish," said The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy quietly, "is small, yellow and leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. It feeds on brainwave energy received not from its own carrier but from those around it. It absorbs all unconscious mental frequencies from this brainwave energy to nourish itself with. It then excretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix formed by combining the conscious thought frequencies with nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain which has supplied them. The practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything in any form of language. The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel fish.
"Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mindbogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as the final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.
"The argument goes something like this: 'I refuse to prove that I exist,' says God, 'for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.'
"'But,' says Man, 'the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED.'
"'Oh dear,' says God, 'I hadn't thought of that,' and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
"'Oh, that was easy,' says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.
"Most leading theologians claim that this argument is a load of dingo's kidneys, but that didn't stop Oolon Colluphid making a small fortune when he used it as the central theme of his bestselling book, Well That about Wraps It Up for God.
"Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation."
- "If you're a researcher on this book thing and you were on Earth, you must have been gathering material on it."
"Well, I was able to extend the original entry a bit, yes."
"Let me see what it says in this edition, then. I've got to see it."
... "What? Harmless! Is that all it's got to say? Harmless! One word! ... Well, for God's sake I hope you managed to rectify that a bit."
"Oh yes, well I managed to transmit a new entry off to the editor. He had to trim it a bit, but it's still an improvement."
"And what does it say now?" asked Arthur.
"Mostly harmless," admitted Ford with a slightly embarrassed cough.
- (Ford) "you'd better be prepared for the jump into hyperspace. It's unpleasantly like being drunk."
(Arthur) "What's so unpleasant about being drunk?"
(Ford) "Ask a glass of water."
- "You know," said Arthur, "it's at times like this, when I'm trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young."
"Why, what did she tell you?"
"I don't know, I didn't listen."
- "This is terrific," Arthur thought to himself, "Nelson's Column has gone, McDonald's have gone, all that's left is me and the words Mostly harmless. Any second now all that will be left is Mostly harmless. And yesterday the planet seemed to be going so well."
- “I don’t want to die now! I’ve still got a headache! I don’t want to go to heaven with a headache, I’d be all cross and wouldn’t enjoy it!”
- "Space," it says, "is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space. Listen..." and so on.
- The fabulously beautiful planet Bethselamin is now so worried about the cumulative erosion by ten billion visiting tourists a year that any net imbalance between the amount you eat and the amount you excrete while on the planet is surgically removed from your body weight when you leave: so every time you go to the lavatory there it is vitally important to get a receipt.
- Arthur looked up. "Ford!" he said, "there's an infinite number of monkeys outside who want to talk to us about this script for Hamlet they've worked out."
- "Ford," he said, "you're turning into a penguin. Stop it."
- "But that's not the point!" raged Ford "The point is that I am now a perfectly safe penguin, and my colleague here is rapidly running out of limbs!"
- ...such generators were often used to break the ice at parties by making all the molecules in the hostess's undergarments leap simultaneously one foot to the left, in accordance with the Theory of Indeterminacy. Many respectable physicists said that they weren't going to stand for this, partly because it was a debasement of science, but mostly because they didn't get invited to those sorts of parties.
- It startled him even more when just after he was awarded the Galactic Institute's Prize for Extreme Cleverness he got lynched by a rampaging mob of respectable physicists who had finally realized that the one thing they really couldn't stand was a smart-a**.
- "Five to one against and falling..." she said, "four to one against and falling...three to one...two...one...probability factor of one to one...we have normality, I repeat we have normality." She turned her microphone off—then turned it back on, with a slight smile and continued: "Anything you still can’t cope with is therefore your own problem."
- "I think you ought to know I'm feeling very depressed," Marvin said.
- He reached out and pressed an invitingly large red button on a nearby panel. The panel lit up with the words Please do not press this button again.
- "All the doors in this spaceship have a cheerful and sunny disposition. It is their pleasure to open for you, and their satisfaction to close again with the knowledge of a job well done."
- "Come on," he droned, "I've been ordered to take you down to the bridge. Here I am, brain the size of a planet and they ask me to take you down to the bridge. Call that job satisfaction? 'Cos I don't."
- "Sorry, did I say something wrong?" said Marvin, dragging himself on regardless. "Pardon me for breathing, which I never do anyway so I don't know why I bother to say it, oh God I'm so depressed. Here's another one of those self-satisfied doors. Life! Don't talk to me about life."
- "If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now."
- One of the major difficulties Trillian experienced in her relationship with Zaphod was learning to distinguish between him pretending to be stupid just to get people off their guard, pretending to be stupid because he couldn't be bothered to think and wanted someone else to do it for him, pretending to be outrageously stupid to hide the fact that he actually didn't understand what was going on, and really being genuinely stupid.
- Marvin trudged on down the corridor, still moaning.
"...and then of course I've got this terrible pain in all the diodes down my left hand side..."
"No?" said Arthur grimly as he walked along beside him. "Really?"
"Oh yes," said Marvin, "I mean I've asked for them to be replaced but no one ever listens."
"I can imagine."
- “Funny,” he intoned funereally, “how just when you think life can’t possibly get any worse it suddenly does.”
- Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?
- He had found a Nutri-Matic machine which had provided him with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.
- Another thing that got forgotten was the fact that against all probability a sperm whale had suddenly been called into existence several miles above the surface of an alien planet.
- And since this is not a naturally tenable position for a whale, this poor innocent creature had very little time to come to terms with its identity as a whale before it then had to come to terms with not being a whale any more.
- This is a complete record of its thought from the moment it began its life till the moment it ended it.
- Ah . . . ! What's happening? it thought.
- Er, excuse me, who am I?
- Why am I here? What's my purpose in life?
- What do I mean by who am I?
- Calm down, get a grip now . . . oh! this is an interesting what is it?
- It's sort of . . . yawning, tingling sensation in my . . . my . . . well, I suppose I'd better start finding names for things if I want to make any headway in what for the sake of what I shall call an argument I shall call the world, so let's call it my stomach.
- Good. Ooooh, it's getting quite strong. And hey, what about this whistling roaring sound going past what I'm suddenly going to call my head? Perhaps I can call that . . . wind! Is that a good name? It'll do . . . perhaps I can find a better name for it later when I've found out what it's for.
- It must be something very important because there certainly seems to be a hell of a lot of it. Hey! What's this thing? This . . . let's call it a tail - yeah, tail. Hey! I can really thrash it about pretty good, can't I? Wow! Wow! That feels great! Doesn't seem to achieve very much but I'll probably find out what it's for later on. Now, have I built up any coherent picture of things yet?
- Never mind, hey, this is really exciting, so much to find out about, so much to look forward to, I'm quite dizzy with anticipation . . . Or is it the wind?
- There really is a lot of that now, isn't there? And wow! Hey! What's this thing suddenly coming toward me very fast? Very, very fast. So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide-sounding name like . . . ow . . . ound . . . round . . . ground! That's it! That's a good name- ground!
- I wonder if it will be friends with me?
- And the rest, after a sudden wet thud, was silence.
- Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the Universe than we do now.
- "Life," said Marvin dolefully, "loathe it or ignore it, you can't like it."
- For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.
- The last ever dolphin message was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double-backwards-somersault through a hoop whilst whistling the 'Star Spangled Banner', but in fact the message was this: So long, and thanks for all the fish.
- Looking up into the night sky is looking into infinity—distance is incomprehensible and therefore meaningless.
- "Forty-two," said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.
- "The Answer to the Great Question, of Life, the Universe and Everything"
- "I checked it very thoroughly," said the computer, "and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you've never actually known what the question is."
"But it was the Great Question! The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything," howled Loonquawl.
"Yes," said Deep Thought with the air of one who suffers fools gladly, "but what actually is it?"
A slow stupefied silence crept over the men as they stared at the computer and then at each other.
"Well, you know, it's just Everything ... Everything ..." offered Phouchg weakly.
"Exactly!" said Deep Thought. "So once you know what the question actually is, you'll know what the answer means."
- "The chances of finding out what really is going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is to say hang the sense of it and keep yourself occupied ... Look at me: I design coastlines. I got an award for Norway."
- "I'd far rather be happy than right any day."
"And are you?"
"No, that's where it all falls down, of course."
"Pity," said Arthur with sympathy. "It sounded like quite a good lifestyle otherwise."
- "Come," said Slartibartfast, "you are to meet the mice."
- The aircar rocketed them at speeds in excess of R17 through the steel tunnels that lead out onto the appalling surface of the planet which was now in the grip of yet another drear morning twilight. Ghastly grey lights congealed on the land.
R is a velocity measure, defined as a reasonable speed of travel that is consistent with health, mental wellbeing and not being more than say five minutes late. It is therefore clearly an almost infinitely variable figure according to circumstances, since the first two factors vary not only with speed taken as an absolute, but also with awareness of the third factor. Unless handled with tranquility this equation can result in considerable stress, ulcers and even death.
R17 is not a fixed velocity, but it is clearly far too fast.
- "What's up?"
"I don't know," said Marvin, "I've never been there."
- "Simple. I got very bored and depressed, so I went and plugged myself in to its external computer feed. I talked to the computer at great length and explained my view of the Universe to it," said Marvin.
"And what happened?" pressed Ford.
"It committed suicide," said Marvin and stalked off back to the Heart of Gold.
- It said: "The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why and Where phases.
"For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question How can we eat? the second by the question Why do we eat? and the third by the question Where shall we have lunch?"
- There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
- The story so far:
In the beginning the Universe was created.
This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
- "Share and Enjoy" is the company motto of the hugely successful Sirius Cybernetics Corporation Complaints division, which now covers the major land masses of three medium sized planets and is the only part of the Corporation to have shown a consistent profit in recent years.
- The protruding upper halves of the letters now appear, in the local language, to read "Go stick your head in a pig", and are no longer illuminated, except at times of special celebration.
- Quite how Zaphod Beeblebrox arrived at the idea of holding a seance at this point is something he was never quite clear on.
Obviously the subject of death was in the air, but more as something to be avoided than harped upon.
Possibly the horror that Zaphod experienced at the prospect of being reunited with his deceased relatives led on to the thought that they might just feel the same way about him and, what's more, be able to do something about helping to postpone this reunion.
- "Concentrate," hissed Zaphod, "on his name."
"What is it?" asked Arthur.
"Zaphod Beeblebrox the Fourth."
"Zaphod Beeblebrox the Fourth. Concentrate!"
"Yeah. Listen, I'm Zaphod Beeblebrox, my father was Zaphod Beeblebrox the Second, my grandfather Zaphod Beeblebrox the Third..."
"There was an accident with a contraceptive and a time machine. Now concentrate!"
- By an equally suspicious freak of temporal relastatics, it is nearly always Saturday afternoon just before the beach bars close.
No adequate explanation for this has been forthcoming from the dominant life forms on Ursa Minor Beta, who spend most of their time attempting to achieve spiritual enlightenment by running round swimming pools, and inviting Investigation Officials from the Galactic Geo-Temporal Control Board to "have a nice diurnal anomaly."
- The Guide is definitive. Reality is frequently inaccurate.
- "Well sir," snapped the fragile little creature, "if you could be a little cool about it..."
"Look," said Zaphod. "I'm up to here with cool, okay? I'm so amazingly cool you could keep a side of meat in me for a month. I'm so hip I have trouble seeing over my pelvis. Now will you move before I blow it?"
- "Listen, three eyes," he said, "don't you try to outweird me, I get stranger things than you free with my breakfast cereal."
- "You are Zaphod Beeblebrox?" [the insect] squeeked.
"Yeah," said Zaphod, "but don't shout it out or they'll all want one."
"The Zaphod Beeblebrox?"
""No, just a Zaphod Beeblebrox; didn't you hear I come in six packs?"
- "Mr. Beeblebrox, sir," said the insect in awed wonder, "you're so weird you should be in movies."
"Yeah," said Zaphod patting the thing on a glittering pink wing, "and you, baby, should be in real life."
- "I'm looking for someone."
"Who?" hissed the insect.
"Zaphod Beeblebrox," said Marvin, "he's over there."
The insect shook with rage. It could hardly speak.
"Then why did you ask me?"
"I just wanted something to talk to," said Marvin.
"Pathetic, isn't it?"
- "So, how are you?" [Zaphod] said aloud.
"Oh, fine," said Marvin, "if you happen to like being me, which personally I don't."
- "Marvin," he said, "just get this elevator to go up, will you? We've got to get to Zarniwoop."
"Why?" asked Marvin dolefully.
"I don't know," said Zaphod, "but when I find him, he'd better have a very good reason for me wanting to see him."
- "Well," the [elevator's] voice trickled on like honey on biscuits, "there's the basement, the microfiles, the heating system ...er..."
"Nothing particularly exciting," it admitted, "but they are alternatives."
"Holy Zarquon," muttered Zaphod, "did I ask for an existential elevator?" He beat his fists against the wall.
"What's the matter with the thing?" he spat.
"It doesn't want to go up," said Marvin simply. "I think it's afraid."
"Afraid?" cried Zaphod. "Of what? Heights? An elevator that's afraid of heights?"
"No," said the elevator miserably, "of the future...."
"The future?" exclaimed Zaphod. "What does the wretched thing want, a pension plan?"
- Modern elevators are strange and complex entities. The ancient electric winch and "maximum-capacity-eight-persons" jobs bear as much relation to a Sirius Cybernetics Corporation Happy Vertical People Transporter as a packet of mixed nuts does to the entire west wing of the Sirian State Mental Hospital.
This is because they operate on the curious principle of "defocused temporal perception." In other words they have the capacity to see dimly into the immediate future, which enables the elevator to be on the right floor to pick you up even before you knew you wanted it, thus eliminating all the tedious chatting, relaxing and making friends that people were previously forced to do while waiting for elevators.
Not unnaturally, many elevators imbued with intelligence and precognition became terribly frustrated with the mindless business of going up and down, up and down, experimented briefly with the notion of going sideways, as a sort of existential protest, demanded participation in the decision-making process and finally took to squatting in basements sulking.
An impoverished hitchhiker visiting any planets in the Sirius star system these days can pick up easy money working as a counselor for neurotic elevators.
- The Total Perspective Vortex derives its picture of the whole Universe on the principle of extrapolated matter analyses.
To explain—since every piece of matter in the Universe is in some way affected by every other piece of matter in the Universe, it is in theory possible to extrapolate the whole of creation—every sun, every planet, their orbits, their composition and their economic and social history from, say, one small piece of fairy cake.
The man who invented the Total Perspective Vortex did so basically in order to annoy his wife.
Trin Tragula—for that was his name—was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.
And she would nag him incessantly about the utterly inordinate amount of time he spent staring out into space, or mulling over the mechanics of safety pins, or doing spectrographic analyses of pieces of fairy cake.
"Have some sense of proportion!" she would say, sometimes as often as thirty-eight times in a single day.
And so he built the Total Perspective Vortex—just to show her.
And into one end he plugged the whole of reality as extrapolated from a piece of fairy cake, and into the other end he plugged his wife: so that when he turned it on she saw in one instant the whole infinity of creation and herself in relation to it.
To Trin Tragula's horror, the shock completely annihilated her brain; but to his satisfaction he realized that he had proved conclusively that if life is going to exist in a Universe of this size, then the one thing it cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion.
- [Zaphod] opened the door of the box and stepped in. Inside the box he waited. After five seconds there was a click, and the entire Universe was there in the box with him.
- [Zaphod] had seen the whole universe stretching to infinity around him—everything. And with it had come the clear and extraordinary knowledge that he was the most important thing in it. Having a conceited ego is one thing. Being told by a computer is another.
Zaphod finds an airline in the desert and boards
- "Delay?" [Zaphod] cried. "Have you seen the world outside this ship? It's a wasteland, a desert. Civilization's been and gone, man. There are no lemon-soaked paper napkins on the way from anywhere."
"The statistical likelihood," continued the autopilot primly, "is that other civilizations will arise. There will one day be lemon-soaked paper napkins. Till then there will be a short delay. Please return to your seat."
- Most readers [of Dr. Dan Streetmentioner's Time Traveler's Handbook of 1001 Tense Transformations] get as far as the Future Semiconditionally Modified Subinverted Plagal Past Subjunctive Intentional before giving up; and in fact in later editions of the book all pages beyond this point have been left blank to save on printing costs.
- "Have another drink," said Trillian. "Enjoy yourself."
"Which?" said Arthur. "The two are mutually exclusive."
"Poor Arthur, you're really not cut out for this life are you?"
"You call this life?"
"You're starting to sound like Marvin."
"Marvin is the clearest thinker I know."
- I am the main Dish of the Day. May I interest you in parts of my body?
- "Shee, you guys are so unhip it's a wonder your bums don't fall off." Zaphod
- "Maybe somebody here tipped off the Galactic Police," said Trillian. "Everyone saw you come in."
"You mean they want to arrest me over the phone?" said Zaphod. "Could be. I'm a pretty dangerous dude when I'm cornered."
"Yeah," said the voice from under the table, "you go to pieces so fast people get hit by the shrapnel."
- "But I'm quite used to being humiliated," droned Marvin, "I can even go and stick my head in a bucket of water if you like. Would you like me to go and stick my head in a bucket of water? I've got one ready. Wait a minute."
"Er, hey, Marvin ..." interrupted Zaphod, but it was too late. Sad little clunks and gurgles came up the line.
"What's he saying?" asked Trillian.
"Nothing," said Zaphod, "he just phoned to wash his head at us."
- "The first ten million years were the worst," said Marvin, "and the second ten million years, they were the worst too. The third ten million years I didn't enjoy at all. After that I went into a bit of a decline."
- "The best conversation I had was over forty million years ago," continued Marvin. ..."And that was with a coffee machine."
- "Amazing-looking ship though. Looks like a fish, moves like a fish, steers like a cow."
- Ford Prefect
- "Well, I wish you'd just tell me rather than try to engage my enthusiasm," said Marvin, "because I haven't got one."
- "Er..." [Zarquon] said, "hello. Er, look, I'm sorry I'm a bit late. I've had the most ghastly time, all sorts of things cropping up at the last moment."
He seemed nervous of the expectant awed hush. He cleared his throat.
"Er, how are we for time?" he said, "have I just got a min—"
And so the Universe ended.
- It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.
- The ship was rocking and swaying sickeningly as Ford and Zaphod tried to wrest control from the autopilot. The engines howled and whined like tired children in a supermarket.
- "You mean," said Arthur, "you mean you can see into my mind?"
"Yes," said Marvin.
Arthur stared in astonishment.
"And ...?" Arthur.
"It amazes me how you can manage to live in anything that small."
"Ah," said Arthur, "abuse."
"Yes," confirmed Marvin.
- The trouble with most forms of transport, he thought, is basically one of them not being worth all the bother. On Earth—when there had been an Earth, before it was demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass—the problem had been with cars. The disadvantages involved in pulling lots of black sticky slime from out of the ground where it had been safely hidden out of harm's way, turning it into tar to cover the land with, smoke to fill the air with and pouring the rest into the sea, all seemed to outweigh the advantages of being able to get more quickly from one place to another—particularly when the place you arrived at had probably become, as a result of this, very similar to the place you had left, i.e. covered with tar, full of smoke and short of fish.
- The designer of the gun had clearly not been instructed to beat about the bush. "Make it evil," he'd been told. "Make it totally clear that this gun has a right end and a wrong end. Make it totally clear to anyone standing at the wrong end that things are going badly for them. If that means sticking all sort of spikes and prongs and blackened bits all over it then so be it. This is not a gun for hanging over the fireplace or sticking in the umbrella stand, it is a gun for going out and making people miserable with."
- The major problem—one of the major problems, for there are several—one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.
To summarise: it is a well known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarise the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarise the summary of the summary: people are a problem.
- "How can I tell," said the man, "that the past isn't a fiction designed to account for the discrepancy between my immediate physical sensations and my state of mind?"
- "Well, you're obviously being totally naive of course", said the girl, "When you've been in marketing as long as I have, you'll know that before any new product can be developed it has to be properly researched. We’ve got to find out what people want from fire, how they relate to it, what sort of image it has for them."
The crowd were tense. They were expecting something wonderful from Ford.
"Stick it up your nose," he said.
"Which is precisely the sort of thing we need to know," insisted the girl, "Do people want fire that can be fitted nasally?"
"And the wheel," said the Captain, "What about this wheel thingy? It sounds a terribly interesting project."
"Ah," said the marketing girl, "Well, we're having a little difficulty there."
"Difficulty?" exclaimed Ford. "Difficulty? What do you mean, difficulty? It's the single simplest machine in the entire Universe!"
The marketing girl soured him with a look.
"Alright, Mr. Wiseguy," she said, "if you're so clever, you tell us what colour it should be."
- "If," ["the management consultant"] said tersely, "we could for a moment move on to the subject of fiscal policy..."
"Fiscal policy!" whooped Ford Prefect. “Fiscal policy!"
The management consultant gave him a look that only a lungfish could have copied.
"Fiscal policy..." he repeated, "that is what I said."
"How can you have money," demanded Ford, "if none of you actually produces anything? It doesn't grow on trees you know."
"If you would allow me to continue.. ."
Ford nodded dejectedly.
"Thank you. Since we decided a few weeks ago to adopt the leaf as legal tender, we have, of course, all become immensely rich."
Ford stared in disbelief at the crowd who were murmuring appreciatively at this and greedily fingering the wads of leaves with which their track suits were stuffed.
“But we have also,” continued the management consultant, “run into a small inflation problem on account of the high level of leaf availability, which means that, I gather, the current going rate has something like three deciduous forests buying one ship's peanut."
Murmurs of alarm came from the crowd. The management consultant waved them down.
"So in order to obviate this problem," he continued, "and effectively revalue the leaf, we are about to embark on a massive defoliation campaign, and...er, burn down all the forests. I think you'll all agree that's a sensible move under the circumstances."
The crowd seemed a little uncertain about this for a second or two until someone pointed out how much this would increase the value of the leaves in their pockets whereupon they let out whoops of delight and gave the management consultant a standing ovation. The accountants among them looked forward to a profitable autumn aloft and it got an appreciative round from the crowd.
- The regular early morning yell of horror was the sound of Arthur Dent waking up and suddenly remembering where he was.
- The alien ship was already thundering toward the upper reaches of the atmosphere, on its way out into the appalling void that separates the very few things there are in the Universe from one another.
- In the end, it was the Sunday afternoons he couldn't cope with, and that terrible listlessness that starts to set in about 2:55, when you know you’ve taken all the baths that you can usefully take that day, that however hard you stare at any given paragraph in the newspaper you will never actually read it, or use the revolutionary new pruning technique it describes, and that as you stare at the clock the hands will move relentlessly on to four o’clock, and you will enter the long dark teatime of the soul.
- "Africa was very interesting," said Ford, "I behaved very oddly there." ... "I took up being cruel to animals," he said airily. "But only," he added, "as a hobby."
"Oh yes," said Arthur, warily.
"Yes," Ford assured him. "I won't disturb you with the details because they would—"
"Disturb you. But you may be interested to know that I am singlehandedly responsible for the evolved shape of the animal you came to know in later centuries as a giraffe."
- He gazed keenly into the distance and looked as if he would quite like the wind to blow his hair back dramatically at that point, but the wind was busy fooling around with some leaves a little way off.
- "I have detected," he said, "disturbances in the wash." ...
"The wash?" said Arthur.
"The space-time wash," said Ford. ...
Arthur nodded, and then cleared his throat. "Are we talking about," he asked cautiously, "some sort of Vogon laundromat, or what are we talking about?"
"Eddies," said Ford, "in the space-time continuum."
"Ah," nodded Arthur, "is he? Is he?" He pushed his hands into the pocket of his dressing gown and looked knowledgeably into the distance.
"What?" said Ford.
"Er, who," said Arthur, "is Eddy, then, exactly, then?"
- "There!" said Ford, shooting out his arm. "There, behind that sofa!"
Arthur looked. Much to his surprise, there was a velvet paisley-covered Chesterfield sofa in the field in front of them. He boggled intelligently at it. Shrewd questions sprang into his mind.
"Why," he said, "is there a sofa in that field?"
"I told you!" shouted Ford, leaping to his feet. "Eddies in the space-time continuum!"
"And this is his sofa, is it?" asked Arthur, struggling to his feet and, he hoped, though not very optimistically, to his senses.
- For a moment or two the old man didn't reply. He was staring at the instruments with the air of one who is trying to convert Fahrenheit to centigrade in his head while his house is burning down.
- The first nonabsolute number is the number of people for whom the table is reserved. This will vary during the course of the first three telephone calls to the restaurant, and then bear no apparent relation to the number of people who actually turn up...
- The second nonabsolute number is the given time of arrival, which is now known to be one of those most bizarre of mathematical concepts, a recipriversexlusion, a number whose existence can only be defined as being anything other than itself. In other words, the given time of arrival is the one moment of time at which it is impossible that any member of the party will arrive.
- the third non-absolute number is the number on the bill, (and how many people actually have the money to pay it)
- "My doctor says that I have a malformed public-duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fibre," Ford muttered to himself, "and that I am therefore excused from saving Universes."
- Several billion trillion tons of superhot exploding hydrogen nuclei rose slowly above the horizon and managed to look small, cold and slightly damp.
- There is a moment in every dawn when light floats, there is the possibility of magic. Creation holds its breath.
The moment passed as it regularly did on Sqornshellous Zeta, without incident.
- Very few things actually get manufactured these days, because in an infinitely large Universe such as, for instance, the one in which we live, most things one could possibly imagine, and a lot of things one would rather not, grow somewhere.
- "My capacity for happiness," he added, "you could fit into a matchbox without taking out the matches first." —Marvin
- "You may not instantly see why I bring the subject up, but that is because my mind works so phenomenally fast, and I am at a rough estimate thirty billion times more intelligent than you. Let me give you an example. Think of a number, any number."
"Er, five," said the mattress.
"Wrong," said Marvin. "You see?"
The mattress was much impressed by this and realized that it was in the presence of a not unremarkable mind.
- "I would like to say that it is a very great pleasure, honour and privilege for me to open this bridge, but I can't because my lying circuits are all out of commission."—Marvin
- "Voon," [the mattress] wurfed at last, "and was it a magnificent occasion?"
"Reasonably magnificent. The entire thousand-mile-long bridge spontaneously folded up its glittering spans and sank weeping into the mire, taking everybody with it."
- The renewed shock had nearly made him spill his drink. He drained it quickly before anything serious happened to it. He then had another quick one to follow the first one down and check that it was all right.
"Freedom," he said aloud.
Trillian came on to the bridge at that point and said several enthusiastic things on the subject of freedom.
"I can't cope with it," Zaphod said darkly, and sent a third drink down to see why the second hadn't yet reported on the condition of the first. He looked uncertainly at both of her and preferred the one on the right.
He poured a drink down his other throat with the plan that it would head the previous one off at the pass, join forces with it, and together they would get the second to pull itself together. Then all three would go off in search of the first, give it a good talking to and maybe a bit of a sing as well.
He felt uncertain as to whether the fourth drink had understood all that, so he sent down a fifth to explain the plan more fully and a sixth for moral support.
- [The Guide] had some advice to offer on drunkenness.
"Go to it," it said, "and good luck."
It was cross-referenced to the entry concerning the size of the Universe and the ways of coping with that.
- There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. ... Clearly, it is this second part, the missing, which presents the difficulties.
- Do not listen to what anybody says to you at this point because they are unlikely to say anything helpful.
- [Zaphod] sat up sharply and started to pull clothes on. He decided that there must be someone in the Universe feeling more wretched, miserable and forsaken than himself, and he determined to set out and find him.
Halfway to the bridge it occurred to him that it might be Marvin, and he returned to bed.
- On the way back they sang a number of tuneful and reflective songs on the subjects of peace, justice, morality, culture, sport, family life and the obliteration of all other life forms.
- Time travel is increasingly regarded as a menace. History is being polluted.
- There is, or was, a poet. His name was Lallafa, and he wrote what are widely regarded throughout the Galaxy as the finest poems in existence, the Songs of the Long Land.
- Lallafa had lived in the forests of the Long Lands of Effa.
- [Lallafa] wrote about a girl who had left him and precisely what he thought about that. Long after his death his poems were found and wondered over. News of them spread like morning sunlight. For centuries they illuminated and watered the lives of many people whose lives might otherwise have been darker and dryer. Then, shortly after the invention of time travel, some major correcting fluid manufacturers wondered whether his poems might have been better still if he had had access to say a few words to that effect. They traveled the time waves; they found him. They explained the situation -- with some difficulty -- to him, and did indeed persuade him. In fact they persuaded him to such effect that he became extremely rich at their hands, and the girl about whom he was otherwise destined to write with such precision never got around to leaving him, and in fact they moved out of the forest to a rather nice pad in town and he frequently commuted to the future to do talk shows, on which he sparkled wittily.
- [Lallafa] never got around to writing the poems, of course, which was a problem, but an easily solved one. The manufacturers of correcting fluid simply packed him off for a week somewhere with a copy of a later edition of his book and stacks of dried habra leaves to copy them out onto, making the odd deliberate mistake and correction on the way.
- Many people now say that the poems are suddenly worthless. Others argue that they are exactly the same as they always were, so what's changed?
- They obstinately persisted in their absence.
- It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.
- Marvin droned,
Now the world has gone to bed,
Darkness don't engulf my head,
I can see by infrared,
How I hate the night.
He paused to gather artistic and emotional strength to tackle the next verse.
Now I lay me down to sleep,
Try to count electric sheep,
Sweet dream wishes you can keep,
How I hate the night.
- "That young girl," Marvin added unexpectedly, "is one of the least benightedly unintelligent organic life forms it has been my profound lack of pleasure not to be able to avoid meeting."
- "Excuse me," [Arthur] said, "the Ashes. I've got them. They were stolen by those white robots a moment ago ... what should I do with them?"
The policeman told him, but Arthur could only assume that he was speaking metaphorically.
- He hoped and prayed that there wasn't an afterlife. Then he realized there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped that there wasn't an afterlife.
- In Relativity, Matter tells Space how to curve, and Space tells Matter how to move.
The Heart of Gold told space to get knotted, and parked itself neatly within the inner steel perimeter of the Argabuthon Chamber of Law.
- If a sunbeam had ever managed to slink this far into the justice complex of Argabuthon it would have turned around and slunk straight back out again.
- “I'm afraid,” he said at last, “that the Question and the Answer are mutually exclusive. Knowledge of one logically precludes knowledge of the other. It is impossible that both can ever be known about the same Universe.”
- "I wasn't very impressed with it when I first knew what it was," he said, "but now I think back to how impressed I was by the Prince's reason, and how soon afterward I couldn't recall it at all, I think it might be a lot more helpful. Would you like to know what it is? Would you?" They nodded dumbly. "I bet you would. If you're that interested I suggest you go and look for it. It is written in thirty-foot-high letters of fire on top of the Quentulus Quazgar Mountains in the land of Sevorbeupstry on the planet Preliumtarn, third out from the sun Zarss in Galactic Sector QQ7 ActiveJ Gamma. it is guarded by the Lajestic Vantrashell of Lob."
There was a long silence following this announcement, which was finally broken by Arthur. "Sorry, it's where?" he said.
"It is written," repeated Prak, "in thirty-foot-high letters of fire on top of the Quentulus Quazgar Mountains in the land of Sevorbeupstry on the planet Preliumtarn, third out from the..."
"Sorry," said Arthur again, "which mountains?"
"The Quentulus Quazgar Mountains in the land of Sevorbeupstry on the planet..."
"Which land was that? I didn't quite catch it."
"Sevorsbeupstry, on the planet..."
"Oh, for heaven's sake," said Prak, and died testily.
- Many were increasingly of the opinion that they'd all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans.
And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl sitting on her own in a small café in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.
Sadly, however, before she could get to a phone to tell anyone about it, the Earth was unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass, and so the idea was lost, seemingly for ever.
This is her story.
- Eskimos had over two hundred different words for snow, without which their conversation would probably have got very monotonous. So they would distinguish between thin snow and thick snow, light snow and heavy snow, sludgy snow, brittle snow, snow that came in flurries, snow that came in drifts, snow that came in on the bottom of your neighbor's boots all over your nice clean igloo floor, the snows of winter, the snows of spring, the snows you remember from your childhood that were so much better than any of your modern snow, fine snow, feathery snow, hill snow, valley snow, snow that falls in the morning, snow that falls at night, snow that falls all of a sudden just when you were going out fishing, and snow that despite all your efforts to train them, the huskies have pissed on.
- And as he drove on, the rain clouds dragged down the sky after him for, though he did not know it, Rob McKenna was a Rain God. All he knew was that his working days were miserable and he had a succession of lousy holidays. All the clouds knew was that they loved him and wanted to be near him, to cherish him and to water him.
- The storm had now definitely abated, and what thunder there was now grumbled over more distant hills, like a man saying "And another thing..." twenty minutes after admitting he's lost the argument.
- The moon was out in a watery way. It looked like a ball of paper from the back pocket of jeans that have just come out of the washing machine, which only time and ironing would tell if it was an old shopping list or a five pound note.
- They were not the same eyes with which he had last looked out at this particular scene, and the brain which interpreted the images the eyes resolved was not the same brain. There had been no surgery involved, just the continual wrenching of experience.
- Once you know what it is you want to be true, instinct is a very useful device for enabling you to know that it is.
- He paused and maneuvered his thoughts. It was like watching oil tankers doing three-point turns in the English Channel.
- He was wrong to think he could now forget that the big, hard, oily, dirty, rainbow-hung Earth on which he lived was a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot lost in the unimaginable infinity of the Universe.
- Grown men, he told himself, in flat contradiction of centuries of accumulated evidence about the way grown men behave, do not behave like this.
- The problem is, or rather one of the problems, for there are many, a sizeable proportion of which are continually clogging up the civil, commercial, and criminal courts in all areas of the Galaxy, and especially, where possible, the more corrupt ones, this.
The previous sentence makes sense. That is not the problem.
Read it through again and you'll get it.
- Ford: "Life," he said, "is like a grapefruit."
Creature: "Er, how so?"
Ford: "Well, it's sort of orangey-yellow and dimpled on the outside, wet and squidgy in the middle. It's got pips inside, too. Oh, and some people have half a one for breakfast."
- "This Arthur Dent," comes the cry from the furthest reaches of the galaxy, and has even now been found inscribed on a mysterious deep space probe thought to originate from an alien galaxy at a distance too hideous to contemplate, "what is he, man or mouse? Is he interested in nothing more than tea and the wider issues of life? Has he no spirit? has he no passion? Does he not, to put it in a nutshell, fuck?"
Those who wish to know should read on. Others may wish to skip on to the last chapter which is a good bit and has Marvin in it.
- And as they drifted up, their minds sang with the ecstatic knowledge that either what they were doing was completely and utterly and totally impossible or that physics had a lot of catching up to do.
- In a mute embrace, they drifted up till they were swimming among the misty wraiths of moisture that you can see feathering around the wings of an airplane but can never feel because you are sitting warm inside the stuffy airplane and looking through the little scratchy Plexiglas window while somebody else's son tries patiently to pour warm milk into your shirt.
- She was mostly immensely relieved to think that virtually everything that anybody had ever told her was wrong.
- The sign said:
Hold stick near centre of its length. Moisten pointed end in mouth. Insert in tooth space, blunt end next to gum. Use gentle in-out motion.
"It seemed to me," said Wonko the Sane, "that any civilization that had so far lost its head as to need to include a set of detailed instructions for use in a packet of toothpicks, was no longer a civilization in which I could live and stay sane."
- "I'm afraid I can't comment on the name Rain God at this present time, and we are calling him an example of a Spontaneous Para-Causal Meteorological Phenomenon."
"Can you tell us what that means?"
"I'm not altogether sure. Let's be straight here. If we find something we can't understand we like to call it something you can't understand, or indeed pronounce. I mean if we just let you go around calling him a Rain God, then that suggests that you know something we don't and I'm afraid we couldn't have that."
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy ... says of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation products that "it is very easy to be blinded to the essential uselessness of them by the sense of achievement you get from getting them to work at all."
- "I come in peace," [the silver robot] said, adding after a long moment of further grinding, "take me to your Lizard."
- "So much time," it groaned, "oh so much time. And pain as well, so much of that, and so much time to suffer it in too. One or the other on its own I could probably manage. It's the two together that really get me down."
- "Ha!" snapped Marvin. "Ha!" he repeated. "What do you know of always? You say 'always' to me, who, because of the silly little errands your organic lifeforms keep on sending me through time on, am now thirty-seven times older than the Universe itself? Pick your words with a little more care," he coughed, "and tact."
- "We apologize for the inconvenience." God's Final Message to His Creation, written in letters of fire on the side of the Quentulus Quazgar Mountains.
"I think," Marvin murmured at last, from deep within his corroding rattling thorax, "I feel good about it."
The lights went out in his eyes for absolutely the very last time ever.
- There was a point to this story, but it has temporarily escaped the chronicler's mind.
Mostly Harmless (1992)
- Anything that happens, happens.
Anything that, in happening, causes something else to happen, causes something else to happen.
Anything that, in happening, causes itself to happen again, happens again.
It doesn't necessarily do it in chronological order, though.
- One of the problems has to do with the speed of light and the difficulties involved in trying to exceed it. You can't. Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.
- The last time anybody made a list of the top hundred character attributes of New Yorkers, common sense snuck in at number 79.
- "But you like the way it's changed?" demanded Ford.
"I like everything," moaned the robot. "Especially when you shout at me like that. Do it again, please."
"Just tell me what's happened!"
"Oh, thank you, thank you!"
- The current editor-in-chief, Stagyar-zil-Doggo, was a dangerously unbalanced man who took a homicidal view of contributing staff turning up in his office without pages of fresh, proofed copy, and had a battery of laser-guided guns linked to special scanning devices in the door frame to deter anybody who was merely bringing extremely good reasons why they hadn't written any. Thus was a high level of output maintained.
- [The Ident-I-Eeze] encoded every single piece of information about you, your body and your life into one all-purpose machine-readable card that you could then carry around in your wallet, and it therefore represented technology's greatest triumph to date over both itself and plain common sense.
- "You stay there," said Ford, "and you'll soon be recaptured and have your conditional chip replaced. You want to stay happy, come now."
The robot let out a long heartfelt sigh of impassioned tristesse and sank reluctantly away from the ceiling.
- When the Guide moved on, taking its building with it, it left a little like a thief in the night. Exactly like a thief in the night in fact. It usually left in the very early hours of the morning, and the following day there always turned out to be a very great deal of stuff missing. Whole cultures and economies would collapse in its wake, often within a week, leaving once-thriving planets desolate and shell-shocked but still somehow feeling they had been part of some great adventure.
- It was a programming technique that had been reverse-engineered from the sort of psychotic mental blocks that otherwise perfectly normal people had been observed invariably to develop when elected to high political office.
- The doors of the elevator slid open to reveal a large posse of security guards and robots poised waiting for it and brandishing filthy-looking weapons.
They ordered him out.
With a shrug he stepped forward. The all pushed rudely past him into the elevator, which took them down to continue their search for him on the lower levels.
This was fun, thought Ford ... .
- "We all like to congregate... at boundary conditions. Where land meets water. Where earth meets air. Where body meets mind. Where time meets space. We like to be on one side, and look at the other."
- "Protect me from knowing what I don't need to know. Protect me from even knowing that there are things to know that I don't know. Protect me from knowing that I decided not to know about the things that I decided not to know about. Amen."
- "There's another prayer that goes with it that's very important. ...'Lord, lord, lord. Protect me from the consequences of the above prayer. Amen' And that's it. Most of the trouble people get into in life comes from leaving out that last part."
- If any of them had chosen to look out of the window at that moment, they would have been startled by the sight of Ford Prefect dropping past them to his certain death and flipping the finger at them.
- Sub-editors. Bastards. What about all that copy of his they'd cut? Fifteen years of research he'd filed from one planet alone and they'd cut it to two words. "Mostly harmless." The finger to them as well.
- The thing they wouldn't be expecting him to do was to be there in the first place. Only an absolute idiot would be sitting where he was, so he was winning already. A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
- The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair.
- "The insurance business is completely screwy now. You know they've reintroduced the death penalty for insurance company directors?"
"Really?" said Arthur. "No, I didn't. For what offense?"
"What do you mean, offense?"
- It wasn't merely that their left hand didn't always know what their right hand was doing, so to speak; quite often their right hand had a pretty hazy notion as well.
- "Colin," he said, turning to the little, hovering ball. "I am going to abandon you to your fate."
"I'm so happy," said Colin.
"Make the most of it," said Ford. "Because what I want you to do is nursemaid that package out of the building. They'll probably incinerate you when they find you, and I won't be here to help. It will be very, very nasty for you, and that's just too bad. Got it?"
"I gurgle with pleasure," said Colin.
- So everything was going well, was it? Everything was working out as if the most extraordinary luck was on his side? Well, he'd see about that.
In a spirit of scientific inquiry he hurled himself out of the window again.
- It: No, the answer is an orange and two lemons.
- Random: Lemons?
- It: If I have three lemons and three oranges and I lose two oranges and a lemon, what do I have left?
- Random: Huh?
- It: Okay, so you think time flows that way, do you? Interesting.
- If you'd like to know, I can tell you that in your universe you move freely in three dimensions that you call space. You move in a straight line in a fourth, which you call time, and stay rooted to one place in a fifth, which is the first fundamental of probability. After that it gets a bit complicated, and there's all sort of stuff going on in dimensions thirteen to twenty-two that you really wouldn't want to know about. All you really need to know for the moment is that the universe is a lot more complicated than you might think, even if you start from a position of thinking it's pretty damn complicated in the first place. I can easily not say words like "damn" if it offends you.
- There's nothing there that wasn't there before. I'm just using light to draw your attention to certain drops at certain moments. Now what do you see?
- "So what's the point of showing me something I can't see?"
"So that you understand that just because you see something, it doesn't mean to say it's there. And if you don't see something, it doesn't mean to say it's not there. It's only what your senses bring to your attention."
- "Your universe is vast to you. Vast in time, vast in space. That's because of the filters through which you perceive it. But I was built with no filters at all, which means I perceive the Mish Mash which contains all possible universes but which has, itself, no size at all. For me, anything is possible. I am omniscient and omnipotent, extremely vain and, what is more, I come in a handy self-carrying package. You have to work out how much of the above is true."
- "Reverse engineering enables us to shortcut all the business of waiting for one of those horribly few spaceships that passes through your galactic sector every year or so to make up its mind about whether or not it feels like giving you a lift. You want a lift, a ship arrives and gives you one. The pilot may think he has any one of a million reasons why he has decided to stop and pick you up. The real reason is that I have determined that he will."
"This is you being extremely vain, isn't it, little bird?"
- It would be hard to say which he was more frightened of: that he might have hurt the person he had inadvertently sat on or that the person he had inadvertently sat on would hurt him back.
- "Why are we surrounded by squirrels, and what do they want?"
"I've been pestered by squirrels all night," said Arthur. "They keep on trying to give me magazines and stuff."
- "I think it may be something unimaginably dangerous."
"And you sent it to me?" protested Arthur.
"Safest place I could think of. I thought I could rely on you to be absolutely boring and not open it."
- "What did she say?"
"She hit me on the head with the rock again."
"I think I can confirm that that was my daughter."
"You have to get to know her," said Arthur.
"She eases up, does she?"
"No," said Arthur, "but you get a better sense of when to duck."
- "This is very, very serious indeed. The Guide has been taken over. It's been bought out."
Arthur leapt up. "Oh, very serious," he shouted. "Please fill me in straight away on some corporate publishing politics! I can't tell you how much it's been on my mind of late!"
"You don't understand! There's a whole new Guide!"
"Oh!" shouted Arthur again. "Oh! Oh! Oh! I'm incoherent with excitement! I can hardly wait for it to come out to find out which are the most exciting spaceports to get bored hanging about in in some globular cluster I've never heard of. Please, can we rush to a store that's got it right this very instant?"
Ford narrowed his eyes. "This is what you call sarcasm, isn't it?"
"Do you know," bellowed Arthur, "I think it is? I really think it might just be a crazy little thing called sarcasm seeping in at the edges of my manner of speech! Ford, I have had a fucking bad night! Will you please try and take that into account while you consider what fascinating bits of badger-sputumly inconsequential trivia to assail me with next?"
- "Temporal reverse engineering."
Arthur put his head in his hands and shook it gently from side to side.
"Is there any humane way," he moaned, "in which I can prevent you from telling me what temporary reverse bloody-whatsiting is?"
- "I leaped out of a high-rise office window."
This cheered Arthur up. "Oh!" he said. "Why don't you do it again?"
"Hmmm," said Arthur, disappointed. "Obviously no good came of it."
- "What was the self-sacrifice?"
"I jettisoned half of a much-loved and I think irreplaceable pair of shoes."
"Why was that self-sacrifice?"
"Because they were mine!" said Ford, crossly.
"I think we have different value systems."
"Well, mine's better."
- It wasn't [the Captain's] job to worry about that, though. It was his job to do his job, which was to do his job. If that led to a certain narrowness of vision and circularity of thought, then it wasn't his job to worry about such things. Any such things that came his way were referred to others, who had, in turn, other people to refer such things to.
- Somewhere on a fetid, fog-bound mud bank on [Vogsphere] there stands, surrounded by the dirty, broken and empty carapaces of the last few jeweled scuttling crabs, a small stone monument which marks the place where, it is thought, the species Vogon Vogonblurtus first arose. On the monument there is carved an arrow which points away, into the fog, under which is inscribed in plain, simple letters the words "The buck stops there."
- Where do I fit?
- A tremendous feeling of peace came over him. He knew that at last, for once and for ever, it was now all, finally, over.
And Another Thing... (2009)
- At the center of an uncertain and possibly illusionary universe there would always be tea.
- Whenever the Universe fell apart, Ford Prefect was never far behind.
- "I will thank you," said the Hitchhiker's Guide Mk II, "to mind your language. I am fully programmed to take offense."
- "You, Mr. President, are the most philosophunculistic, moronic, steatopygic excuse for a politician that it has ever been my good fortune to not vote for, and if I thought for one second that this crappy Universe deserved any better, then I would pay, out of my own pocket you understand, to have you assassinated."—Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged
- "We can charge the Unnecessarily Painful Slow Death torpedoes on the trip. Hyperspace static will give them a little extra sting."
Jeltz nodded approvingly. "You, Mown, are an utter bastard."
"Thanks, Dad," he said.
- Anything can be real. Every imaginable thing is happening somewhere along the dimensional axis. These things happen a billion times over with exactly the same outcome and no one learns anything. Whatever a person can think, imagine, wish for, or believe has already come to pass. Dreams come true all the time, just not for the dreamers.
- It's not every day a Galactic President gets dumped out of an air lock by his own head.
- Gazing up at a god's crotch can do wonders for a person's lack of low self-esteem.
- "I do not hate myself. In many ways, I am not altogether too bed." - Constant Mown
- "Don't give any money to the unicorns, it only encourages them."—Eric the Red
- "Don't worry. I've been in show business for years; I know how to handle bastards."—Zaphod Beeblebrox
- "Hello, ladies. You may not know me yet, but you're gonna miss me tomorrow."—Zaphod Beeblebrox
- Arthur was stumped. How was he to feel if not put upon?
- For a being of light, gazing even for a moment into the heart of dark space has an effect equivalent to a dozen near-death experiences. It's the Universe's way of telling you to get on with your life. Which is a good thing if the feeling budding in a person's heart is a good feeling.
- There is a theory which states that the universe is built on uncertainty and that a definitive statement/action creates a momentary energy vacuum into which flows a diametrically opposing statement/action. Famous vacuum-inducing statements include:
- Surely that's not going to fit in there.
- I am sick of betting the same numbers every week. They are never going to come up.
- We are a peaceful people. Not even the Armorfiends of Striterax would want to pick a fight with us.
- You look gorgeous in that sweater, Felix. There is no way anyone is going to call you a freak and throw you in a dumple composter.
- Think before you pluck. Irresponsible plucking costs lives.
- "You go ahead and kill yourself, don't worry about me." - Trillian
- There is no such thing as a happy ending. Every culture has a maxim that makes this point, while nowhere in the Universe is there a single gravestone that reads, He Loved Everything About His Life, Especially the Dying Bit at the End.
- "What you think is the happy ending is actually a brief respite before the serial killer that you thought was dead gets back up and butchers everyone except the girl with the biggest boobs, who dies first in the sequel the following year."—Rollit Klet, the Dentrassis independent-film-director-cum-chef
Fit the Second
- Marvin: Do you want me to sit in a corner and rust or just fall apart where I'm standing?
- Marvin: Life, don't talk to me about life.
Fit the Fourth
- Arthur Dent: I seem to be having this tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle. As soon as I reach some kind of definite policy about what is my kind of music and my kind of restaurant and my kind of overdraft, people start blowing up my kind of planet and throwing me out of their kind of spaceships!
Fit the Sixth
- Zaphod: Can it Trillian, I'm trying to die with dignity.
Marvin: I'm just trying to die.
Fit the Seventh
- The other Shaltanac's joopleberry shrub is always a more mauvy shade of pinky-russet.
- The Shaltanac equivalent of "the other man's grass is always greener"
Fit the Eighth
- Zaphod: The building's being bombed! Who in their right minds would want to bomb a publishing company?
- Marvin: Another publishing company.
- What to do if you find yourself stuck in a crack in the ground underneath a giant boulder you can't move with no hope of rescue:
Consider how lucky you are that life has been good to you so far.
Alternatively, if life hasn't been good to you so far (which, given your current circumstances, seems more likely):
Consider how lucky you are that it won't be troubling you much longer.
- Frogstar Robot: Out of my way little robot
- Marvin: I'm afraid I've been left here to stop you.
- Frogstar Robot: You? Stop me? Go on!
- Marvin: No really I have.
- Frogstar Robot: What are you armed with?
- Marvin: Guess.
- Frogstar Robot:Guess?
- Marvin: Yes, go on, you'll never guess.
- Frogstar Robot: Erm... laser beam?
- Marvin: No.
- Frogstar Robot: No, no no no no, too obvious I suppose...Anti matter ray?
- Marvin: Far too obvious.
- Frogstar Robot: Yes... er, how about an electron ram?
- Marvin: What’s that?
- Frogstar Robot: One of these.
[Robot fires electron ram causing lots of noise and destruction]
- Marvin: No, not one of those.
- Frogstar Robot: Good though isn't it?
- Marvin: Very good.
- Frogstar Robot: I know, you must have one of those new Xanthic Re-Structtion Destabilised Zenon Emitters.
- Marvin: Nice, aren't they?
- Frogstar Robot: That what you got?
- Marvin: No.
- Frogstar Robot: Oh, then it must be one of those things with twirls... goes whoosh...
- Marvin: You're thinking along the wrong lines you know, you're failing to take into account something very basic in the relationship between men and robots.
- Frogstar Robot: I- I- I- I know it I know it, I've seen them. Quite big... er...
- Marvin: Look, look, no, just think. They left me—an ordinary, menial robot to stop you—a gigantic, heavy-duty battle machine—whilst they ran off to save themselves... What do you think they would leave me with?
- Frogstar Robot: Well, er, something pretty damn devastating I would expect.
- Marvin: Expect? Oh yes, expect. I’ll tell you what they gave me to protect myself with, shall I?
- Frogstar Robot: Yes all right.
- Marvin: Nothing.
- Frogstar Robot: What?
- Marvin: Nothing at all. Not an electronic sausage.
- Frogstar Robot: Well, doesn't that just take the biscuit!
- Marvin: And me with this terrible pain in all the diodes down my left side.
- Frogstar Robot: Yeah? Oh that makes me angry, think I'll smash that wall down.
[Robot fires at wall which promptly crumbles]
- Marvin: That's very impressive.
- Frogstar Robot: Oh you ain’t seen nothing yet, I can take this floor out too... no trouble!
[Robot fires at floor which gives way]
- Frogstar Robot: oh dear!
[Robot falls through hole in floor]
- Frogstar Robot: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...
- Marvin: What a depressingly stupid machine.
[Crash as Frogstar Robot Class D hits ground. An alarm goes off].
Fit the Ninth
- Life, as many people have spotted, is, of course, terribly unfair. For instance, the first time the Heart of Gold ever crossed the galaxy the massive improbability field it generated caused two hundred and thirty-nine thousand lightly-fried eggs to materialise in a large, wobbly heap on the famine-struck land of Poghril in the Pansel system. The whole Poghril tribe had just died out from famine...except for one man who died of cholesterol poisoning some weeks later.
- The Book: Having been through the Total Perspective Vortex, Zaphod Beeblebrox now knows himself to be the most important being in the entire Universe...something he had hitherto only suspected. It is said that his birth was marked by earthquakes, tidal waves, tornadoes, firestorms, the explosion of three neighbouring stars, and, shortly afterwards, by the issuing of over six and three quarter million writs for damages from all of the major landowners in his galactic sector. However, the only person by whom this is said is Beeblebrox himself, and there are several possible theories to explain this...
- Arthur Dent: Ford?
- Ford Prefect: Yes?
- Arthur Dent: He's totally mad, isn't he?
- Ford Prefect: Well, the border between madness and genius is pretty narrow.
- Arthur Dent: So's the Berlin Wall.
- Ford Prefect: The...?
- Arthur Dent: Oh, the Berlin Wall, it's the border between East and West Germany. It's very narrow, I mean the point I'm trying to make is -
- Ford Prefect: Was very narrow. Get your tenses right.
- Arthur Dent: Thank you.
- Ford Prefect: Anything wrong?
- Arthur Dent: On Earth we have a word -
- Ford Prefect: Had a word.
- Arthur Dent: - had a word called 'tact'.
- Arthur Dent: I mean, what is the point?
- Nutrimatic Drink Dispenser: Nutrition and pleasurable sense data. Share and enjoy!
- Arthur Dent: Listen, you stupid machine, it tastes filthy! Here, take this cup back! (He throws cup at the dispenser)
- Nutrimatic Drink Dispenser: If you have enjoyed the experience of this drink, why not share it with your friends?
- Arthur Dent: Because I want to keep them! Will you try and comprehend what I’m telling you? That drink -
- Nutrimatic Drink Dispenser: That drink was individually tailored to meet your personal requirements for nutrition and pleasure.
- Arthur Dent: Ah. So I’m a masochist on a diet, am I?!
- Nutrimatic Drink Dispenser: Share and enjoy!
- Arthur Dent: Oh, shut up!
Fit the Eleventh
- Will everything tie up neatly or will it be just like life: quite interesting in parts, but no substitute for the real thing? What is the real thing?
- I ache, therefore I am.
Fit the Twelfth
Zaphod Beeblebrox: B - b - but who are you, man? Why do I want to see you? I was told you were on an intergalactic cruise, which (offhandedly) I can handle...but in your office, which I can’t.
- The Book: The major problem - one of the major problems, for there are several - one of the many major problems with governing people is that of who you get to do it; or, rather, of who manages to get people to let them do it to them. To summarise: it is a well-known and much lamented fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarise the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made president should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarise the summary of the summary: people are a problem.
- Man in Shack: The lord knows I am not a cruel man.
- Zarniwoop: Ah - you say, "the Lord', so you believe in —
- Man in Shack: My cat. I call him "the lord". I am kind to him.
- Zarniwoop: Alright. How do you know he exists? How do you know he knows you to be kind or enjoys what you think of as your kindness?
- Man in Shack: I don't. I have no idea. It merely pleases me to behave in a certain way to what appears to be a cat. What else do you do? Please...I am tired.
Fit the Twenty-Second
- Was I amongst friends when the Haggunenon admiral evolved into a life pod and everybody aboard his flagship escaped leaving me aboard as it steered itself into the nearest star?
Was I amongst friends when I was left to walk in circles on a swamp planet?
Left to park cars outside a restaurant for millenia?
Left for the Krikkit robots to use for batting practice?
Friend? I don't think I ever came across one of those, sorry, can't help you there.
Fit the Twenty-Sixth
- Marvin: This is the car park, you ordered a babe wash for your ship. Due to staff shortages, I am your babe.
- Zaphod: Marvin—I thought you were dead!
- Marvin: Seems I was still under warranty. Sorry to disappoint you...sorrier than you can possibly imagine.
- Zaphod: You're still parking cars here?
- Marvin: Spend a few thousand million years in a job and eventually you get promoted, I have my own bucket now. Finally, I am somebody.
- Zaphod: OK metal man, how about giving the Heart of Gold a hot wax with full valet?
- Marvin: That depends on whether or not I can find my frilly apron, with my luck, I probably can.
- Humans are not proud of their ancestors, and rarely invite them round to dinner.
- Waiter: Would you all like to see the menu? Or would you care to meet the main dish of the day?
- Arthur: Meet?
- Trillian: What is it?
- Waiter: It's an Ameglian Major Cow. I'll bring him over.
- Zaphod: Ok, we'll meet the meat. that's cool. [a large Pig-like creature is wheeled in on a trolley]
- Dish of the Day: Bweeeh... [clears throat] Good evening, Madam and Gentlemen. I am the main Dish of the Day. May I interest you in parts of my body? [Arthur and Trillian go "Huh?"]
- Ford: Oh, well.
- Dish of the Day: Something off my shoulder, perhaps, brazed in a little White Wine sauce?
- Arthur: Your shoulder?
- Dish of the Day: Well, naturally mine, sir. Nobody else's is mine to offer. [clears throat] The, uh, rump is very good, sir. I have been exercising and eating plenty of grain so there's a lot of good meat there. [moos] Or a casserole of me, perhaps?
- Trillian: You mean this animal actually wants us to eat it?
- Ford: Me, I don't mean anything.
- Bodyguard: OK, Hotblack. Black ship's ready to crash into the sun of Kakrafoon. Time to get there ourselves.
- Zaphod: Listen, Earth man, you've got a job to do, right? The question to the ultimate answer, right? There's a lot of loot tied up in that, er, head thing of yours.
- Arthur: Yes, but where do we start? The ultimate answer's 42. What's the question? How should I know? Could be anything. I mean, what's 6 times seven?
- Zaphod and Trillian: 42.
- Marvin: 42.
- Arthur: Yes, I know that! Just saying it could be anything. [chuckles] Why ask me?
- Zaphod: Because you're the last one! You were there when your planet did the big firework!
- Arthur: I do wish you'd stop saying that!
- Marvin: I know.
- Ford: Ah, shut up, Marvin! This is organism talk!
- Marvin: It's printed in the Earth man's brainwave patterns but I don't suppose you'll be very interested in knowing that.
- Arthur: You mean you can see into my mind?
- Marvin: Yes.
- Arthur: And?
- Marvin: It amazes me how you manage to live in anything that small.
- Number Three: Captain?
- Captain: Yes, Number Three?
- Number Three: I've just had a sort of report thingy from Number One.
- Captain: Oh, dear.
- Number Three: He was shouting something or other about having found some prisoners.
- Captain: Oh, well, perhaps it'll keep him happy for a bit. He's always wanted some.
- Number One: [entering the Captain's room with Ford and Arthur] Captain, sir!
- Captain: Oh, hello, Number One! Having a nice day?
- Number One: I've brought you the prisoners I located in Freezer bay 7, sir.
- Ford and Arthur: Hi.
- Captain: Hello. Excuse me not getting up, just having a quick bath. Oh, well. Gin and Tonics all round! Look in the fridge there, Number Three.
- Number Three: Certainly, sir.
- Number One: Don't you want to interrogate the prisoners, sir?
- Captain: Why on Golgafrincham should I want to do that?
- Number One: To get information out of them, sir. Find out why they came here, sir.
- Captain: No, no, I expect they just dropped in for a quick Gin and Tonic, don't you?
- Number One: Sir, they're my prisoners. Can't I just interrogate them a little bit?
- Captain: Oh, very well. Ask them what they want to drink.
- Number One: Thank you, sir. Alright. [grabs Ford's collar] You scum! You vermin!
- Captain: Steady on, Number One!
- Number One: What do you want to drink?
- Ford: Well, Gin and Tonic sounds very nice to me. Arthur?
- Arthur: Hmm? Yes.
- Number One: With ice? Or without?
- Ford: [thinks for a second] With, please.
- Number One: Lemon?
- Ford: Umm, yeah. Oh, and do you have any of those little biscuits? You know, the cheesy ones?
- Number One: I'm asking the questions!
- Captain: Number One. Push off, will you, there's a good fellow. I'm trying to take a relaxing bath! [blows into his bubble pipe]
- Number One: May I respectfully remind you that you've now been in that bath for over three years.
- Captain: Yes, well, one needs to relax a lot in a job like mine.
- What do you think I am, completely without any moral whatsits, what are they called, those moral things?