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The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Copyright © 1980 by Douglas Adams
There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
There is another which states that this has already happened.
In the beginning the Universe was created.
This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
In fact to see anything much uglier than a Vogon ship you would have to go inside it and look at a Vogon. If you are wise, however, this is precisely what you will avoid doing because the average Vogon will not think twice before doing something so pointlessly hideous to you that you will wish you had never been bornor (if you are a clearer minded thinker) that the Vogon had never been born.
In fact, the average Vogon probably wouldnt even think once.
Yeah. Listen, Im Zaphod Beeblebrox, my father was Zaphod Beeblebrox the Second, my grandfather Zaphod Beeblebrox the
There was an accident with a contraceptive and a time machine.
|Chapter 5||They were a double pair of Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses, which had been specially designed to help people develop a relaxed attitude to danger. At the first hint of trouble they turn totally black and thus prevent you from seeing anything that might alarm you.|
It said The Guide is definitive. Reality is frequently inaccurate.
This has led to some interesting consequences. For instance, when the editors of the Guide were sued by the families of those who had died as a result of taking the entry on the planet Traal literally (it said Ravenous Bugblatter Beasts often make a very good meal for visiting tourists instead of Ravenous Bugblatter Beasts often make a very good meal of visiting tourists), they claimed that the first version of the sentence was the more aesthetically pleasing, summoned a qualified poet to testify under oath that beauty was truth, truth beauty and hoped thereby to prove that the guilty party in this case was Life itself for failing to be either beautiful or true.
I mean, wheres the percentage in being kind or helpful to a robot if it doesnt have any gratitude circuits?
And you dont have any? said the insect, who didnt seem to be able to drag itself out of this conversation.
Ive never had occasion to find out, Marvin informed it.
|Chapter 10||Its a well-known economic phenomenon but tragic to see it in operation, for the more shoe shops there were, the more shoes they had to make and the worse and more unwearable they became. And the worse they were to wear, the more people had to buy to keep themselves shod, and the more the shops proliferated, until the whole economy of the place passed what I believe is termed the Shoe Event Horizon, and it became no longer economically possible to build anything other than shoe shops. Resultcollapse, ruin and famine.|
Arthur Dent was grappling with his consciousness the way one grapples with a lost bar of soap in the bath.
Hey, Ford, he said, identifying one of the slowly solidifying blurs around him, did you get that thing of your whole life flashing before you?
You got that too? said Ford. Your whole life?
Yeah, said Zaphod, at least I assume it was mine. I spend a lot of time out of my skulls you know.
Listen, Ford, said Zaphod, everythings cool and froody.
You mean everythings under control.
No, said Zaphod, I do not mean everythings under control. That would not be cool and froody.
Their songs are on the whole very simple and mostly follow the familiar theme of boy-being meets girl-being beneath a silvery moon, which then explodes for no adequately explored reason.
Many worlds have now banned their act altogether, sometimes for artistic reasons, but most commonly because the bands public address system contravenes local strategic arms limitations treaties.
One of the major selling points of that wholly remarkable travel book, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, apart from its relative cheapness and the fact that it has the words DONT PANIC written in large friendly letters on its cover, is its compendious and occasionally accurate glossary.
|Chapter 20||Look property is theft, right? Therefore theft is property. Therefore this ship is mine, okay?|
|Chapter 22||The disadvantages involved in pulling lots of black sticky slime from out of the ground where it had been safely hidden out of harms way, turning it into tar to cover the land with, smoke to fill the air with and pouring the rest into the sea, all seemed to outweigh the advantages of being able to get more quickly from one place to anotherparticularly when the place you arrived at had probably become, as a result of this, very similar to the place you had left, i.e., covered with tar, full of smoke and short of fish.|
I teleported home one night|
With Ron and Sid and Meg.
Ron stole Meggies heart away
And I got Sidneys leg.
Trouble with a long journey like this, continued the Captain, is that you end up just talking to yourself a lot, which gets terribly boring because half the time you know what youre going to say next.
Only half the time? asked Arthur in surprise.
Who can possibly rule if no one who wants to do it can be allowed to?
How can I tell, said the man, that the past isnt a fiction designed to account for the discrepancy between my immediate physical sensations and my state of mind?
Youre very sure of your facts, he said at last. I couldnt trust the thinking of a man who takes the Universeif there is onefor granted.
Your God person puts an apple tree in the middle of a garden and says, do what you like guys, oh, but dont eat the apple. Surprise surprise, they eat it and he leaps out from behind a bush shouting Gotcha. It wouldnt have made any difference if they hadnt eaten it.
Because if youre dealing with somebody who has the sort of mentality which likes leaving hats on the pavement with bricks under them you know perfectly well they wont give up. Theyll get you in the end.
When youve been in marketing as long as I have youll know that before any new product can be developed it has to be properly researched. Weve got to find out what people want from fire, how they relate to it, what sort of image it has for them.
The crowd were tense. They were expecting something wonderful from Ford.
Stick it up your nose, he said.
Which is precisely the sort of thing we need to know, insisted the girl. Do people want fire that can be fitted nasally?
I read of one planet off in the seventh dimension that got used as a ball in a game of intergalactic bar billiards. Got potted straight into a black hole. Killed ten billion people.
Thats mad, said Mella.
Yes, only scored thirty points too.
text checked (see note) Mar 2005
Life, The Universe and Everything
Copyright © 1982 by Douglas Adams
In the end, it was the Sunday afternoons he couldnt cope with, and that terrible listlessness that starts to set in at about 2:55, when you know youve taken all the baths you can usefully take that day, that however hard you stare at any given paragraph in the newspaper you will never actually read it, or use the revolutionary new pruning technique it describes, and that as you stare at the clock the hands will move relentlessly on to four oclock, and you will enter the long dark teatime of the soul.
Arthurs consciousness approached his body as from a great distance, and reluctantly. It had had some bad times in there.
The Bistromathic Drive is a wonderful new method of crossing vast interstellar distances without all that dangerous mucking about with Improbability Factors.
Bistromathics is simply a revolutionary new way of understanding the behavior of numbers. Just as Einstein observed that space was not an absolute but depended on the observers movement in space, and that time was not an absolute, but depended on the observers movement in time, so it is now realized that numbers are not absolute, but depend on the observers movement in restaurants.
I am at a rough estimate thirty billion times more intelligent than you. Let me give you an example. Think of a number, any number.
Er, five, said the mattress.
Wrong, said Marvin. You see?
|Chapter 8||If it was an emotion, it was a totally emotionless one. It was hatred, implacable hatred. It was cold, not like ice is cold, but like a wall is cold. It was impersonal, not like a randomly flung fist in a crowd is impersonal, but like a computer-issued parking summons is impersonal. And it was deadly, again, not like a bullet or a knife is deadly, but like a brick wall across an expressway is deadly.|
Han Wavel is a world that consists largely of fabulous ultraluxury hotels and casinos, all of which have been formed by the natural erosion of wind and rain.
The chances of this happening are more or less one to infinity against. Little is known of how this came about because none of the geophysicists, probability statisticians, meteoranalysts or bizarrologists who are so keen to research it can afford to stay there.
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy has this to say on the subject of flying.
There is an art, it says, or, rather, a knack to flying.
The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.
Pick a nice day, it suggests, and try it.
The first part is easy.
All it requires is simply the ability to throw yourself forward with all your weight, and the willingness not to mind that its going to hurt.
That is, its going to hurt if you fail to miss the ground.
Most people fail to miss the ground, and if they are really trying properly, the likelihood is that they will fail to miss it fairly hard.
Clearly, it is this second part, the missing, which presents the difficulties.
One problem is that you have to miss the ground accidentally. Its no good deliberately intending to miss the ground because you wont. You have to have your attention suddenly distracted by something else when youre halfway there, so that you are no longer thinking about falling, or about the ground, or about how much its going to hurt if you fail to miss it.
It is notoriously difficult to prize your attention away from these three things during the split second you have at your disposal. Hence most peoples failure, and their eventual disillusionment with this exhilarating and spectacular sport.
|Chapter 31||That young girl, he added unexpectedly, is one of the least benightedly unintelligent organic life forms it has been my profound lack of pleasure not to be able to avoid meeting.|
He hoped and prayed that there wasnt an afterlife. Then he realized there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped that there wasnt an afterlife.
He would feel very, very embarrassed meeting everybody.
Think of a number, said the computer, any number.
Arthur told the computer the telephone number of Kings Cross railway station passenger inquiries, on the grounds that it must have some function, and this might turn out to be it.
The computer injected the number into the ships reconstituted Improbability Drive.
In Relativity, Matter tells Space how to curve, and Space tells Matter how to move.
The Heart of Gold told space to get knotted, and parked itself neatly within the inner steel perimeter of the Argabuthon Chamber of Law.
And sometimes, after some of the worst of these outrages, the Dwellers in the Forest would send a Messenger to either the Leader of the Princes of the Plains or the Leader of the Tribesmen of the Cold Hillsides and demand to know the reason for this intolerable behavior.
And the Leader, whichever one it was, would take the Messenger aside and explain the reason to him, slowly and carefully, and with great attention to the considerable detail involved.
And the terrible thing was, it was a very good one. It was very clear, very rational and tough. The Messenger would hang his head and feel sad and foolish that he had not realized what a tough and complex place the real world was, and what difficulties and paradoxes had to be embraced if one was to live in it.
Now do you understand? the Leader would say.
The Messenger would nod dumbly.
And you see these battles have to take place?
Another dumb nod.
And why they have to take place in the Forest, and why it is in everybodys best interest, the Forest Dwellers included, that they should?
In the long run.
And the Messenger did understand the reason, and he returned to his people in the Forest. But as he approached them, as he walked through the Forest and among the trees, he found that all he could remember of the reason was how terribly clear the argument had seemed. What it actually was, he couldnt remember at all.
And this, of course, was a great comfort when next the Tribesmen and the Princes came hacking and burning their way through the Forest, killing every Forest Dweller in their way.
text checked (see note) Mar 2005
Graphics copyright © 2003, 2004 by Hal Keen