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!”
[The Guide] says that the effect of a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.
Zaphod Beeblebrox, adventurer, ex-hippy, good timer, (crook? quite possibly), manic self-publicist, terribly bad at personal relationships, often thought to be completely out to lunch.
“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.
“Look,” said Arthur, “would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?”
Arthur stared into his beer.
“Did I do anything wrong today,” he said, “or has the world always been like this and I’ve been too wrapped up in myself to notice?”
“I refuse to prove that I exist,” says God “for proof denies faith and without faith I am nothing”.
“But,” says Man, “the Babel Fish is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own argument you don’t. QED.”
“Oh, dear”, says God, “I hadn’t thought of that”, and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
“My God,” complained Arthur, “you’re talking about a positive mental attitude and you haven’t even had your planet demolished today.”
As soon as Mr. Prosser realized that he was substantially the loser after all, it was as if a weight lifted itself off his shoulders: this was more like the world as he knew it.
“Ford!” he said, “there’s an infinite number of monkeys outside who want to talk to us about this script for Hamlet they’ve worked out!”
“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.
“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.
“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.
Oh, the Paranoid Android, he said. “Yeah, we’ll take him.”
“But what are supposed to do with a manically depressed robot?”
“You think you’ve got problems,” said Marvin as if he was addressing a newly occupied coffin, “what are you supposed to do if you are a manically depressed robot? No, don’t bother to answer that, I’m fifty thousand times more intelligent than you and even I don’t know the answer. It gives me a headache just trying to think down to your level.”