- 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
“I want to hear your speech,” said the mattress.
“This is what I said. I said, ‘I would like to say that it is a very great pleasure, honor and privilege for me to open this bridge, but I can’t because my lying circuits are all out of commission. I hate and despise you all. I now declare this hapless cyberstructure open to the unthinkable abuse of all who wantonly cross her.’ And I plugged myself into the opening circuits.”
Marvin paused, remembering the moment.
Arthur lay in startled stillness on the acceleration couch. He wasn’t certain whether he had just got space-sickness or religion.
Any sophisticated knowledgable person, who had knocked about, seen a few things, would probably have remarked on how much the craft looked like a filing cabinet–a large and recently burgled filing cabinet lying on its back with its drawers in the air and flying.
The islanders, whose experience was of a different kind, were instead struck by how little it looked like a lobster.
He had read somewhere that the Eskimos had over two hundred words for snow, without which their conversation would probably have got very monotonous. So they would distinguish between thin snow and thick snow, light snow and heavy snow, sludgy snow, brittle snow, snow that came in flurries, snow that came in drifts, snow that came in on the bottom of your neighbour’s boots all over your nice clean igloo floor, the snows of winter, the snows of spring, the snows you remember from your childhood that were so much better than any of your modern snow, fine snow, feathery snow, hill snow, valley snow, snow that falls in the morning, snow that falls at night, snow that falls all of a sudden just when you were going out fishing, and snow that despite all your efforts to train them, the huskies have pissed on.
She was a rapidly rising anchor. She had what it took: great hair, a profound understanding of strategic lip gloss, the intelligence to understand the world and a tiny secret interior deadness which meant she didn’t care.
The last time anybody made a list of the top hundred character attributes of New Yorkers, common sense snuck in at number 79.
All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others.
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?”