- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
- The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
- The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
- The Salmon of Doubt
Driving a Porsche in London is like bringing a Ming vase to a football game.
You are disoriented. Blackness swims toward you like a school of eels who have just seen something that eels like a lot.
When you’re a student or whatever, and you can’t afford a car, or a plane fare, or even a train fare, all you can do is hope that someone will stop and pick you up.
At the moment we can’t afford to go to other planets. We don’t have the ships to take us there. There may be other people out there (I don’t have any opinions about Life Out There, I just don’t know) but it’s nice to think that one could, even here and now, be whisked away just by hitchhiking.
It was a battered yellow Citroën 2CV which had had one careful owner but also three suicidally reckless ones.
You would probably not say that he was sleeping the sleep of the just, unless you meant the just asleep, but it was certainly the sleep of someone who was not fooling about when he climbed into bed at night and turned off the light.
Dirk gave a gracious bow of his head to the man’s retreating back, and then hurried on, opening the newspaper at the horoscope page as he did so.
“Virtually everything you decide today will be wrong,” it said bluntly.
If you describe yourself as “Atheist,” some people will say, “Don’t you mean ‘Agnostic’?” I have to reply that I really do mean Atheist. I really do not believe that there is a god – in fact I am convinced that there is not a god (a subtle difference). I see not a shred of evidence to suggest that there is one. It’s easier to say that I am a radical Atheist, just to signal that I really mean it, have thought about it a great deal, and that it’s an opinion I hold seriously.
I’d take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.
“All right,” said Ford, “I’ll try to explain. How long have we known each other?”
“How long?” Arthur thought. “Er, about five years, maybe six,” he said. “Most of it seemed to make some sense at the time.”
Well all right, I wasn’t doing very well with her. I’d been trying all evening. Hell, she was something though. Beautiful, charming, devastatingly intelligent, at last I’d got her to myself for a bit and was plying her with a bit of talk when this friend of yours barges up and says ‘Hey doll, is this guy boring you? Why don’t you talk to me instead? I’m from a different planet.’ I never saw her again.
One of the things Ford Prefect had always found hardest to understand about human beings was their habit of continually stating and repeating the 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 all right? At first Ford had formed a theory to account for this strange behavior. 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 favor 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 and decided he quite liked human beings after all, but he always remained desperately worried about the terrible number of things they didn’t know about.
“You’re proposing twenty hours on a boat-”
“A small boat,” added Mark.
“On violently heaving seas-”
“With a three-day-old dead goat.”
“I hardly know what to say.”
I say roughly, because the gorillas are not yet sufficiently advanced in evolutionary terms to have discovered the benefits of passports, currency declaration forms, and official bribery, and tend to wander backwards and forwards across the border as and when their beastly, primitive whim takes them.
“What was that?” hissed Arthur.
“Something red,” hissed Ford back at him.
“Where are we?”
“Er, somewhere green.”
“Shapes,” muttered Arthur. “I need shapes.”
Arthur’s consciousness approached his body as from a great distance, and reluctantly. It had had some bad times in there. Slowly, nervously, it entered and settled down in to its accustomed position.
A man can’t cross a hundred thousand light years, mostly in other people’s baggage compartments, without beginning to fray a little, and Arthur had frayed a lot.
After a while an animal- a deer perhaps – would appear from out of the trees and watch him cautiously. Ford would continue to smile at it, his eyes would soften and shine, and he would seem to radiate a deep and universal love, a love which reached out to embrace all of creation. A wonderful quietness would decend on the surrounding countryside, peacefull and serene, eminating from this transfigured man. Slowly the dear would approch, step by step, until it was almost nuzzling him, whereupon Ford Prefect would reach out to it and break it’s neck.
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.
It’s a few years since I’ve written a novel and I think we’re moving from a position where I have a publisher having a contract with me to having a contract on me.
Dirk, please, if you would. I prefer it. It has more of a sort of Scottish dagger feel to it.
“Drink up,” said Ford, “you’ve got three pints to get through.”
“Three pints?” said Arthur. “At lunchtime?”
The man next to ford grinned and nodded happily. Ford ignored him. He said, “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.”
“Who said anything about panicking?” snapped Arthur. “This is still just the culture shock. You wait till I’ve settled down into the situation and found my bearings. Then I’ll start panicking.”
Only six people in the Galaxy knew that the job of the Galactic President was not to wield power but to attract attention away from it.
Zaphod Beeblebrox was amazingly good at his job.
Being woken up at dawn by the cockerels is not in itself a problem. The problem arises when the cockerels get confused as to when dawn actually is. They suddenly explode into life, sqwaking and screaming at about one o’clock in the morning. At about one-thirty they eventually realise their mistake and shut up, just as the major dogfights of the evening are getting under way. These usually start with a few minor bouts between the more enthusiastic youngsters, and then the full chorus of heavyweights weighs in with a fine impression of what it might be like to fall into the pit of hell with the London Symphony Orchestra.
The kakapo’s persnickety dietary requirements are a whole other area of exasperating difficulty. It makes me tired just to think of them, so I think we’ll pass quickly over all that. Imagine being an airline steward trying to serve meals to a plane full of Moslems, Jews, vegetarians, vegans and diabetics when all you’ve got is turkey because it’s Christmas time.