- 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.”
In the end, it was the Sunday afternoons he couldn’t cope with, and that terrible listlessness which starts to set in at about 2:55, when you know that you’ve had all the baths you can usefully have that day, that however hard you stare at any given paragraph in the papers 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.
“Zaphod’s calmed down a lot you know.”
“Really?” said Arthur, clustering hurriedly round Fenchurch to relieve her of the shopping.
“Yeah,” said Ford, “at least one of his heads is now saner than an emu on acid.”
Grown men, he told himself, in flat contradiction of centuries of accumulated evidence about the way grown men behave, do not behave like this.
He looked up at the sky, which was sullen, streaked and livid, and reflected that it was the sort of sky that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse wouldn’t feel like a bunch of complete idiots riding out of.
It was a couple of days before Kate Schechter became aware of any of these things, or indeed of anything at all in the outside world.
She passed the time quietly in a world of her own in which she was surrounded as far as the eye could see with old cabin trunks full of past memories in which she rummaged with great curiosity, and sometimes bewilderment. Or, at least, about a tenth of the cabin trunks were full of vivid, and often painful or uncomfortable memories of her past life; the other nine-tenths were full of penguins, which surprised her. Insofar as she recognised at all that she was dreaming, she realised that she must be exploring her own subconscious mind. She had heard it said that humans are supposed only to use about a tenth of their brains, and that no one was very clear what the other nine-tenths were for, but she had certainly never heard it suggested that they were used for storing penguins.
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.