The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy


“Are you telling me,” he said, “that you set yourself up to become President of the Galaxy just to steal that ship?”
“That’s it,” said Zaphod with the sort of grin that would get most people locked away in a room with soft walls.

“Sorry, did I say something wrong?” said Marvin, dragging himself on regardless. “Pardon me for breathing, which I never do anyway so I don’t know why I bother to say it, oh God I’m so depressed. Here’s another of those self-satisfied doors. Life! Don’t talk to me about life.”

It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much – the wheel, New York, wars and so on – whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man – for precisely the same reasons.

“In this replacement Earth we’re building they’ve given me Africa to do and of course I’m doing it with all fjords again because I happen to like them, and I’m old fashioned enough to think that they give a lovely baroque feel to a continent. And they tell me it’s not equatorial enough. Equatorial!” He gave a hollow laugh. “What does it matter? Science has achieved some wonderful things of course, but I’d far rather be happy than right any day.”

“This must be Thursday”, said Arthur musing to himself, sinking low over his beer, “I never could get the hang of Thursdays.”

One of the major difficulties Trillian experienced in her relationship with Zaphod was learning to distinguish between him pretending to be stupid just to get people off their guard, pretending to be stupid because he couldn’t be bothered to think and wanted someone else to do it for him, pretending to be outrageously stupid to hide the fact that he actually didn’t understand what was going on, and really being genuinely stupid. He was renowned for being amazingly clever and quite clearly was so – but not all the time, which obviously worried him, hence the act. He proffered people to be puzzled rather than contemptuous. This above all appeared to Trillian to be genuinely stupid, but she could no longer be bothered to argue about it.

“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.

“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.

Er, excuse me, who am I? Hello? Why am I here? What’s my purpose in life? What do I mean by who am I?

“You’d better be prepared for the jump into hyperspace. It’s unpleasantly like being drunk.”
“What’s so unpleasant about being drunk?”
“You ask a glass of water.”

The Encyclopedia Galactica defines a robot as a mechanical apparatus designed to do the work of a man. The marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation defines a robot as “Your Plastic Pal Who’s Fun To Be With.”

“Ford,” he said. “you’re turning into a penguin. Stop it.”

“Zaphod! Wake up!”
“Hey come on, wake up.”
“Just let me stick to what I’m good at, yeah?” muttered Zaphod and rolled away from the voice back to sleep.

The planet has – or rather had- a problem, which was this: most of the people on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for the problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green peices of paper that were unhappy.

If there’s anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.

And no sneaky knocking down Mr. Dent’s house whilst he’s away, alright?

The suns blazed into the pitch of space and a low ghostly music floated through the bridge: Marvin was humming ironically because he hated humans so much.

Is that robot yours? he said.
“No,” came a thin metallic voice from the crater, “I’m mine.”
“If you’d call it a robot,” muttered Arthur. “It’s more a sort of electronic sulking machine.”

[Arthur Dent] was about thirty as well, dark haired and never quite at ease with himself. The thing that used to worry him most was the fact that people always used to ask him what he was looking so worried about. He worked in local radio which he always used to tell his friends was a lot more interesting than they probably thought. It was, too – most of his friends worked in advertising.

Whatever Zaphod’s qualities of mind might include – dash, bravado, conceit – he was mechanically inept and could easily blow the ship up with an extravagant gesture. Trillian had come to suspect that the main reason why he had had such a wild and successful life that he never really understood the significance of anything he did.

“It’s at times like this, when I’m stuck in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelegeuse about to die of asphyxiation in deep space, that I really wish I’d listened to what my mother told me when I was little.”
“Why, what did she tell you?”
“I don’t know, I didn’t listen!”