- 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
“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.
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 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.