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In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitch Hiker’s Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopedia 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.

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.

“One thing,” he further added, “has suddenly ceased to lead to another” – in contradiction of which he had another drink and slid gracelessly off his chair.

The air was clear and scented, the breeze flitted lightly through the tall grass around his cave, the birds were chirruping at each other, the butterflies were flitting about prettily, and the whole of nature seemed to be conspiring to be as pleasant as it possibly could.

It wasn’t all the pastoral delights that were making Arthur feel so cheery, though. He had just had a wonderful idea about how to cope with the terrible lonely isolation, the nightmares, the failure of all his attempts at horticulture, and the sheer futurelessness and futility of his life here on prehistoric Earth, which was that he would go mad.

“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 don’t really have any advice, other than to say it’s the most appallingly difficult thing I’ve ever tried to do and I wish I had a better idea of how to do it. In my experience what you end up with is the by-product of your failure to achieve what you set out to do. It may turn out OK, but it wasn’t what you meant and you’ve no idea how you got there.

Getting a movie made in Hollywood is like trying to grill a steak by having a succession of people coming into the room and breathing on it.

MIT, 1999

Svlad Cjelli. Popularly known as Dirk, though, again, “popular” was hardly right. Notorious, certainly; sought after, endlessly speculated about, those too were true. But popular? Only in the sense that a serious accident on the motorway might be popular– everyone slows down to have a good look, but no one will get too close to the flames. Infamous was more like it. Svlad Cjelli, infamously known as Dirk.

“Oh God,” muttered Ford, slumped against a bulkhead and started to count to ten. He was desperately worried that one day sentient life forms would forget how to do this. Only by counting could humans demonstrate their independence of computers.

England no longer existed. He’d got that – somehow he’d got it. He tried again. America, he thought, has gone. He couldn’t grasp it. He decided to start smaller again. New York has gone. No reaction. He’d never seriously believed it existed anyway. The dollar, he thought, had sunk for ever. Slight tremor there. Every Bogart movie has been wiped, he said to himself, and that gave him a nasty knock. McDonalds, he thought. There is no longer any such thing as a McDonald’s hamburger. He passed out. When he came round a second later he found he was sobbing for his mother.

“Space,” it says, “is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mindboggingly 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.

I’ve heard an idea proposed, I’ve no idea how seriously, to account for the sensation of vertigo. It’s an idea that I instinctively like and it goes like this. The dizzy sensation we experience when standing in high places is not simply a fear of falling. It’s often the case that the only thing likely to make us fall is the actual dizziness itself, so it is, at best, an extremely irrational, even self-fulfilling fear. However, in the distant past of our evolutionary journey toward our current state, we lived in trees. We leapt from tree to tree. There are even those who speculate that we may have something birdlike in our ancestral line. In which case, there may be some part of our mind that, when confronted with a void, expects to be able to leap out into it and even urges us to do so. So what you end up with is a conflict between a primitive, atavistic part of your mind which is saying “Jump!” and the more modern, rational part of your mind which is saying, “For Christ’s sake, don’t!” In fact, vertigo is explained by some not as the fear of falling, but as the temptation to jump!

“That young girl,” he added unexpectedly, “is one of the least benightedly unintelligent life forms it has been my profound lack of pleasure not to be able to avoid meeting.”

The lights were off so that his heads could avoid looking at each other, because neither of them was currently a particularly engaging sight, and nor had they been since he had made the error of looking into his soul.
It had indeed been an error. It had been late one night – of course. It had been a difficult day – of course. There had been soulful music playing on the ship’s sound system – of course. And he had, of course, been slightly drunk.
In other words, all the usual conditions which bring on a bout of soul-searching had applied, but it had, nevertheless, clearly been an error.

It’s all right. There’s nothing to see, it’s all over. None of this is actually happening.

The Census report, like most such surveys, had cost an awful lot of money and didn’t tell anybody anything they didn’t already know – except that every single person in the Galaxy had 2.4 legs and owned a hyena.

The main town was called OhWell. There weren’t any other towns to speak of. Settlement on NowWhat had not been a success and the sort of people who actually wanted to live on NowWhat were not the sort of people you would want to spend time with.

Thor was the God of Thunder and, frankly, acted like it.

We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works.

I get all my ideas from a mail order company in Indianapolis. Although I’m not prepared to give you their name.

So after a hectic week of believing that war was peace, that good was bad, that the moon was made of blue cheese, and that God needed a lot of money sent to a certain box number, the Monk started to believe that thirty-five percent of all tables were hermaphrodites, and then broke down.