Douglas Adams · 216 pages
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“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.”
“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”
“Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?”
“The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't.”
“He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.”
“Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.”
“I'd far rather be happy than right any day.”
“If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.”
“You know," said Arthur, "it's at times like this, when I'm trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young."
"Why, what did she tell you?"
"I don't know, I didn't listen.”
“For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen.”
“This must be Thursday,' said Arthur to himself, sinking low over his beer. 'I never could get the hang of Thursdays.”
“Ford... you're turning into a penguin. Stop it.”
“So this is it," said Arthur, "We are going to die."
"Yes," said Ford, "except... no! Wait a minute!" He suddenly lunged across the chamber at something behind Arthur's line of vision. "What's this switch?" he cried.
"What? Where?" cried Arthur, twisting round.
"No, I was only fooling," said Ford, "we are going to die after all.”
“A towel, [The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy] says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”
“This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.”
“O Deep Thought computer," he said, "the task we have designed you to perform is this. We want you to tell us...." he paused, "The Answer."
"The Answer?" said Deep Thought. "The Answer to what?"
"Life!" urged Fook.
"The Universe!" said Lunkwill.
"Everything!" they said in chorus.
Deep Thought paused for a moment's reflection.
"Tricky," he said finally.
"But can you do it?"
Again, a significant pause.
"Yes," said Deep Thought, "I can do it."
"There is an answer?" said Fook with breathless excitement.
"Yes," said Deep Thought. "Life, the Universe, and Everything. There is an answer. But, I'll have to think about it."
Fook glanced impatiently at his watch.
“How long?” he said.
“Seven and a half million years,” said Deep Thought.
Lunkwill and Fook blinked at each other.
“Seven and a half million years...!” they cried in chorus.
“Yes,” declaimed Deep Thought, “I said I’d have to think about it, didn’t I?"
[Seven and a half million years later.... Fook and Lunkwill are long gone, but their descendents continue what they started]
"We are the ones who will hear," said Phouchg, "the answer to the great question of Life....!"
"The Universe...!" said Loonquawl.
"Shhh," said Loonquawl with a slight gesture. "I think Deep Thought is preparing to speak!"
There was a moment's expectant pause while panels slowly came to life on the front of the console. Lights flashed on and off experimentally and settled down into a businesslike pattern. A soft low hum came from the communication channel.
"Good Morning," said Deep Thought at last.
"Er..good morning, O Deep Thought" said Loonquawl nervously, "do you have...er, that is..."
"An Answer for you?" interrupted Deep Thought majestically. "Yes, I have."
The two men shivered with expectancy. Their waiting had not been in vain.
"There really is one?" breathed Phouchg.
"There really is one," confirmed Deep Thought.
"To Everything? To the great Question of Life, the Universe and everything?"
Both of the men had been trained for this moment, their lives had been a preparation for it, they had been selected at birth as those who would witness the answer, but even so they found themselves gasping and squirming like excited children.
"And you're ready to give it to us?" urged Loonsuawl.
"Now," said Deep Thought.
They both licked their dry lips.
"Though I don't think," added Deep Thought. "that you're going to like it."
"Doesn't matter!" said Phouchg. "We must know it! Now!"
"Now?" inquired Deep Thought.
"All right," said the computer, and settled into silence again. The two men fidgeted. The tension was unbearable.
"You're really not going to like it," observed Deep Thought.
"All right," said Deep Thought. "The Answer to the Great Question..."
"Of Life, the Universe and Everything..." said Deep Thought.
"Is..." said Deep Thought, and paused.
"Forty-two," said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.”
“The Answer to the Great Question... Of Life, the Universe and Everything... Is... Forty-two,' said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.”
“Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as the final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.
The argument goes something like this: "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 arguments, you don't. QED."
"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
"Oh, that was easy," says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.”
“So long, and thanks for all the fish.”
“One of the things Ford Prefect had always found hardest to understand about humans was their habit of continually stating and repeating the very very obvious.”
“Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”
“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.”
“We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!”
“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?”
“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”
“All through my life I've had this strange unaccountable feeling that something was going on in the world, something big, even sinister, and no one would tell me what it was."
"No," said the old man, "that's just perfectly normal paranoia. Everyone in the Universe has that.”
“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.”
“Arthur: If I asked you where the hell we were, would I regret it?
Ford: We're safe.
Arthur: Oh good.
Ford: We're in a small galley cabin in one of the spaceships of the Vogon Constructor Fleet.
Arthur: Ah, this is obviously some strange use of the word safe that I wasn't previously aware of.”
“Just try and live. Try and be happy. Or else, what’s the fucking point?”
“While Steve cooked dinner, I sat at one end of the sofa. Rosie lay coiled at the other. I eyed her suspiciously. She eyed me the same way, both of us hoping that we each didn’t just suddenly fling ourselves at the other in attack.”
“I had no shoes, and I felt sorry for myself until I met a man who had no feet. I took his shoes. Now I feel better.”
“I never had, or wished for, power over you. That isn't true, of course. I wanted the greatest power of all. but not advantage, or authority.”
“No encounter occured that day, and I was glad of it; I took out of my pocket a little Homer I had not opened since leaving Marseilles, reread three lines of the Odyssey, learned them by heart; then, finding sufficient sustenance in their rhythm and reveling in them at leisure, I closed the book and remained, trembling, more alive than I had thought possible, my mind numb with happiness.”
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