- 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.
I had to go back and transcribe all of my speech notes from my Newton, which is what I usually use for giving speeches from, because I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to read it in this light, so I had to transcribe the notes onto paper. Unfortunately, my Newton is better at reading my handwriting than I am. So, there may be a pause while I try and decipher what I’ve written.
The idea that Bill Gates has appeared like a knight in shining armour to lead all his customers out of a mire of technological chaos neatly ignores the fact that it was he who by peddling second-hand, second-rate technology, led them all into it in the first place.
“Gravity,” said Dirk with a slightly dismissive shrug, “yes, there was that as well, I suppose. Though that, of course, was merely a discovery. It was there to be discovered.”
He took a penny out of his pocket and tossed it casually on to the pebbles that ran alongside the paved pathway. “You see?” he said, “They even keep it on at weekends. Someone was bound to notice sooner or later.”
“Life,” said Marvin dolefully, “loathe it or ignore it, you can’t like it.”
Arthur glanced around him once more, and then down at himself, at the sweaty disheveled clothes he had been lying in the mud in on Thursday morning. “I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle,” he muttered to himself.
Talking to yourself is a sign of impending mental collapse.
The great thing about being the only species that makes a distinction between right and wrong is that we can make up the rules for ourselves as we go along.
“I would like you to shut up about your towel,” said Ford.
“It isn’t my towel,” insisted Arthur, “that is the point I am trying to …”
“And the time at which I would like you to shut up about it,” continued Ford in a low growl, “is now.”
Ford and Arthur decided just to relax and be harrowed.
“Santa Zarquana Voostra!” exclaimed both of Zaphod’s heads in chorus.
“So safe that you have to build a zarking fortress ship to take the by-products to the nearest black hole and tip them in! Only it doesn’t get there because the pilot takes a detour–is this right?–to pick up some lobster…? OK, so the guy is cool, but…I mean own up, this is barking time, this is major lunch, this is stool approaching critical mass, this is….this is…total vocabulary failure!”
He sat on a step, took from his satchel a bottle of that Ol’ Janx Spirit and a towel. He opened the bottle and wiped the top of it with the towel, which had the opposite effect to the one intended, in that the Ol’ Janx Spirit instantly killed off millions of the germs which had been slowly building up quite a complex and enlightened civilization on the smellier patches of the towel.
Besides, she told herself, taking a deep breath, if life had taught her anything it was this: Never go back for your bag.
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.
Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
And then because of the success of that damn book, suddenly I have to do another book, and another book and another book. I’m not somebody who’s set out to be a novelist per se. It just happened to be the clearest success I’ve had. I didn’t want to be trapped into just sitting in a room typing. It’s not the life I have envisaged for myself–sitting in a room typing for year after year. I kind of wanted to do something that would be…I’d get to work with a lot people, have a lot of fun, have a lot of meetings, have lots of brainstorming, lots of clever people around. I’ve also a chance to get a lot of toys. So that’s what this was. It was a kind of mid-life crisis project.
There’s a scene in which Trillian can’t understand why Zaphod seems on the one hand quite bright and on the other appallingly dumb. That was a bit of self-portraiture. I sometimes strike myself as being quite a clever guy, and sometimes cannot imagine how I can be so slow-witted and stupid, so dull and brainless. I can’t understand why I should be able to write something which everybody thinks is terribly clever, and at the same time be personally so dumb. I think I’m schizophrenic.
Nothing. Not a single droplet formed. That would satisfy a doctor, that’s what they always did on television – if no mist formed on the mirror, there was no breath. Perhaps, he thought anxiously to himself, perhaps it was something to do with having heated wing mirrors. Didn’t this car have heated wing mirrors? Hadn’t the salesman gone on and on about heated this, electric that, and servo-assisted the other? Maybe they were digital wing mirrors. That was it. Digital, heated, servo-assisted, computer controlled, breath-resistant wing mirrors…
“Look,” said Arthur, “would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?”
Arthur stared into his beer.
“Did I do anything wrong today,” he said, “or has the world always been like this and I’ve been too wrapped up in myself to notice?”