- 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.
As it is I went to lie in a field, along with my Hitch Hiker’s Guide to Europe, and when the stars came out it occurred to me that if only someone would write a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as well, then I for one would be off like a shot. Having had this thought I promptly fell asleep and forgot about it for six years.
What human beings are able to do–we arrive in new territories and we colonize this entire world. We can live in the tundra, we can live in the Gobi Desert, we can even contrive to live in New York, for heaven’s sake, because what we do is when we arrive somewhere, and let’s say, again, we arrive somewhere much colder, instead of having to wait generations or–while our natural selection favors genes that have got a thicker coat, we see an animal that has already got a thicker coat, we say, we’ll have it off him!
Mason gave him another grim look from a vast repertoire he had developed which ranged from very, very blackly grim indeed at the bottom of the scale, all the way up to tiredly resigned and only faintly grim, which he reserved for his children’s birthdays.
“Myself I’d trust him to the end of the Earth,” said Ford.
“Oh yes,” said Arthur, “and how far’s that?”
“About twelve minutes away,” said Ford, “come on, I need a drink.”
Bypasses are devices which allow some people to drive from point A to point B very fast whilst other people dash from point B to point A very fast. People living at point C, being a point directly in between, are often given to wonder what’s so great about point A that so many people of point B are so keen to get there, and what’s so great about point B that so many people of point A are so keen to get there. They often wish that people would just once and for all work out where the hell they wanted to be.
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 cafe 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.
The aye-aye looks a little like a large cat with a bat’s ears, a beaver’s teeth, a tail like a large ostrich feather, a middle finger like a long dead twig and enormous eyes that seem to peer past you into a totally different world which exists just over your left shoulder.
“Now the world has gone to bed,”
“Darkness won’t engulf my head,
I can see by infra-red,
How I hate the night.”
He paused to gather the 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.”
She didn’t even programme any coordinates, she hadn’t the faintest idea where she was going, she just went – a random row of dots flowing through the Universe. “Anything,” she said to herself as she left, “is better than this.”
“I was being perfectly serious,” said Arthur. “It’s just the Universe I’m never quite sure about.”
Suddenly he realized what the answer to the problem was, and it was this, that something very weird was happening; and if something very weird was happening, he thought, he wanted it to be happening to him.
“Don’t tell me about the future,” said Ford. “I’ve been all over the future. Spend half my time there. It’s the same as anywhere else. Anywhen else. Whatever. Just the same old stuff in faster cars and smellier air.”
Dennis Hutch had stepped up into the top seat when its founder had died of a lethal overdose of brick wall, taken while under the influence of a Ferrari and a bottle of tequila.
The hotel shop only had two decent books, and I’d written both of them.
I didn’t jam with Pink Floyd…[it was] a forty-second birthday present to me from David Gilmour. Which was an invitation to play one number (that actually turned into two) on stage with Pink Floyd, their London gigs at the end of their world tour about three years ago. So I go to play the guitar part–which is the easy bit–of Brain Damage and Eclipse at the end of Dark Side of the Moon. It’s that little sort of finger-picking that any fifteen-year old guitarist can do. That was it. I went out in front of 15, 000 people and played this thing and it was fun. You can see why these guys to do it…It’s a gas.
You have to be careful, I’ve come to realize. Once in a hotel in New York, [I met] the receptionist who was just….mindbogglingly dense. You have one of these conversations where you really think the universe is sort of bending around you, it’s so stupid.
She tried to worry that something terrible had happened to him, but didn’t believe it for a moment. Nothing terrible ever happened to him, though she was beginning to think that it was time it damn well did. If nothing terrible happened to him soon maybe she’d do it herself. Now there was an idea.
“No, wait … I’ll tell you something,” said Zaphod. “I freewheel a lot. I get an idea to do something, and, hey, why not, I do it. I reckon I’ll become President of the Galaxy, and it just happens, it’s easy. I decide to steal this ship. I decide to look for Magrathea, and it all just happens. Yeah, I work out how it can best be done, right, but it always works out. It’s like having a Galacticredit card which keeps on working though you never send off the cheques. And then whenever I stop and think – why did I want to do something? – how did I work out how to do it? – I get a very strong desire just to stop thinking about it. Like I have now. It’s a big effort to talk about it.”
Earthmen are not proud of their ancestors, and never invite them round to dinner.