The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Here are my notes from book The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

  • 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 from point B are so keen to get there, and what’s so great about point B that so many people from 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.
  • “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.’
  • the best drink in existence is the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.
  • The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.
  • 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.
  • If they don’t keep on exercising their lips, he thought, their brains start working.
  • “What’s so unpleasant about being drunk?”
    “You ask a glass of water.”
  • ‘I refuse to prove that I exist,’ says God, ‘for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.’
  • “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.”
  • “Please relax,” said the voice pleasantly, like a stewardess in an airliner with only one wing and two engines, one of which is on fire, “you are perfectly safe.”
  • “Can we drop your ego for a moment? This is important.”
    “If there’s anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.”
  • Trilllian had come to suspect that the main reason he had had such a wild and successful life was that he never really understood the significance of anything he did.
  • She wished she knew what it was she was trying not to think about.
  • He never appeared to have a reason for anything he did at all: he had turned unfathomability into an art form. He attacked everything in life with a mixture of extraordinary genius and naive incompetence and it was often difficult to tell which was which.
  • “Magrathea’s been dead for five million years,” said Zaphod; “of course it’s safe. Even the ghosts will have settled down and raised families by now.”
  • “Look,” said Arthur, “would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?”
  • Science has achieved some wonderful things, of course, but I’d far rather be happy than right any day.
  • The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why and Where phases. For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question How can we eat? the second by the question Why do we eat? and the third by the question Where shall we have lunch?
  • 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.
  • Life is wasted on the living.
  • Reality is frequently inaccurate.
  • All this way, thought Zaphod, all this trouble, all this not-lying-on-the-beach-having-a-wonderful-time, and for what?
  • You can kill a man, destroy his body, break his spirit, but only the Total Perspective Vortex can annihilate a man’s soul!
  • If he (the ruller of universe) could cook a good meal he wouldn’t worry about the rest of the Universe.
  • The Universe, as has been observed before, is an unsettlingly big place, a fact which for the sake of a quiet life most people tend to ignore. Many would happily move to somewhere rather smaller of their own devising, and this is what most beings in fact do.
  • For when you are put into the Vortex you are given just one momentary glimpse of the entire unimaginable infinity of creation, and somewhere in it a tiny little marker, a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot, which says “You are here.”
  • The Total Perspective Vortex derives its picture of the whole Universe on the principle of extrapolated matter analyses. To explain—since every piece of matter in the Universe is in some way affected by every other piece of matter in the Universe, it is in theory possible to extrapolate the whole of creation—every sun, every planet, their orbits, their composition and their economic and social history from, say, one small piece of fairy cake. The man who invented the Total Perspective Vortex did so basically in order to annoy his wife. Trin Tragula—for that was his name—was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.
  • If life is going to exist in a Universe of this size, then the one thing it cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion.
  • Milliways — the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
  • A large dairy animal approached Zaphod Beeblebrox’s table, a large fat meaty quadruped of the bovine type with large watery eyes, small horns and what might almost have been an ingratiating smile on its lips.
    “Good evening,” it lowed and sat back heavily on its haunches, “I am the main Dish of the Day. May I interest you in parts of my body?” It harrumphed and gurgled a bit, wriggled its hind quarters into a more comfortable position and gazed peacefully at them. Its gaze was met by looks of startled bewilderment from Arthur and Trillian, a resigned shrug from Ford Prefect and naked hunger from Zaphod Beeblebrox.
    “Something off the shoulder perhaps?” suggested the animal. “Braised in a white wine sauce?”
    “Er, your shoulder?” said Arthur in a horrified whisper. “But naturally my shoulder, sir,” mooed the animal contentedly, “nobody else’s is mine to offer.” Zaphod leapt to his feet and started prodding and feeling the animal’s shoulder appreciatively.
    “Or the rump is very good,” murmured the animal. “I’ve been exercising it and eating plenty of grain, so there’s a lot of good meat there.” It gave a mellow grunt, gurgled again and started to chew the cud. It swallowed the cud again. “Or a casserole of me perhaps?” it added.
    “You mean this animal actually wants us to eat it?” whispered Trillian to Ford.
    “Me?” said Ford, with a glazed look in his eyes. “I don’t mean anything.”
    “That’s absolutely horrible,” exclaimed Arthur, “the most revolting thing I’ve ever heard.”
    “What’s the problem, Earthman?” said Zaphod, now transferring his attention to the animal’s enormous rump.
    “I just don’t want to eat an animal that’s standing there inviting me to,” said Arthur. “It’s heartless.”
    “Better than eating an animal that doesn’t want to be eaten,” said Zaphod.
    “That’s not the point,” Arthur protested. Then he thought about it for a moment. “All right,” he said, “maybe it is the point. I don’t care, I’m not going to think about it now. I’ll just…er…” The Universe raged about him in its death throes. “I think I’ll just have a green salad,” he muttered.
    “May I urge you to consider my liver?” asked the animal, “it must be very rich and tender by now, I’ve been force-feeding myself for months.”
    “A green salad,” said Arthur emphatically.
    “A green salad?” said the animal, rolling his eyes disapprovingly at Arthur.
    “Are you going to tell me,” said Arthur, “that I shouldn’t have green salad?”
    “Well,” said the animal, “I know many vegetables that are very clear on that point. Which is why it was eventually decided to cut through the whole tangled problem and breed an animal that actually wanted to be eaten and was capable of saying so clearly and distinctly. And here I am.” It managed a very slight bow.
    “Glass of water please,” said Arthur.
    “Look,” said Zaphod, “we want to eat, we don’t want to make a meal of the issues. Four rare steaks please, and hurry. We haven’t eaten in five hundred and seventy-six thousand million years.”
    The animal staggered to its feet. It gave a mellow gurgle. “A very wise choice, sir, if I may say so. Very good,” it said. “I’ll just nip off and shoot myself.” He turned and gave a friendly wink to Arthur. “Don’t worry, sir,” he said, “I’ll be very humane.” It waddled unhurriedly off to the kitchen.
    A matter of minutes later the waiter arrived with four huge steaming steaks. Zaphod and Ford wolfed straight into them without a second’s hesitation. Trillian paused, then shrugged and started into hers.
    “Hey, Earthman,” said Zaphod with a malicious grin on the face that wasn’t stuffing itself, “what’s eating you?”
    And the band played on.
  • How do you know you’re having fun if there’s no one watching you have it?
  • You go to pieces so fast people get hit by the shrapnel.
  • “Listen, you semievolved simian,” cut in Zaphod, “go climb a tree will you?”
  • The theories that Ford had come up with, on his first encounter with human beings, to account for their peculiar habit of continually stating and restating the very very obvious, as in “It’s a nice day,” or “You’re very tall,” or “So this is it, we’re going to die.” His first theory was that if human beings didn’t keep exercising their lips, their mouths probably shriveled up. After a few months of observation he had come up with a second theory, which was this—“If human beings don’t keep exercising their lips, their brains start working.”
  • “Out,” he said. People who can supply that amount of firepower don’t need to supply verbs as well.
  • The idea was that into the first ship, the ‘A’ ship, would go all the brilliant leaders, the scientists, the great artists, you know, all the achievers; and then into the third, or ‘C’ ship, would go all the people who did the actual work, who made things and did things; and then into the ‘B’ ship—that’s us—would go everyone else, the middlemen, you see.
  • The major problem—one of the major problems, for there are several—one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them. To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem.
  • We were just about to do nothing at all for a while but it can wait.
  • The alien ship was already thundering toward the upper reaches of the atmosphere, on its way out into the appalling void that separates the very few things there are in the Universe from one another.
  • I’ve never met all these people you speak of. And neither, I suspect, have you. They only exist in words we hear. It is folly to say you know what is happening to other people. Only they know, if they exist. They have their own Universes of their eyes and ears.”
  • “The point is, you see,” said Ford, “that there is no point in driving yourself mad trying to stop yourself going mad. You might just as well give in and save your sanity for later.”
  • “There is an art to flying,” said Ford, “or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”
  • The technology involved in making anything invisible is so infinitely complex that nine hundred and ninety-nine billion, nine hundred and ninety-nine million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine times out of a trillion it is much simpler and more effective just to take the thing away and do without it. The ultrafamous sciento-magician Effrafax of Wug once bet his life that, given a year, he could render the great megamountain Magramal entirely invisible. Having spent most of the year jiggling around with immense Lux-O-Valves and Refracto-Nullifiers and Spectrum-By-Pass-O-Matics, he realized, with nine hours to go, that he wasn’t going to make it. So, he and his friends, and his friends’ friends, and his friends’ friends’ friends, and his friends’ friends’ friends’ friends, and some rather less good friends of theirs who happened to own a major stellar trucking company, put in what is now widely recognized as being the hardest night’s work in history and, sure enough, on the following day, Magramal was no longer visible. Effrafax lost his bet—and therefore his life—simply because some pedantic adjudicating official noticed (a) that when walking around the area where Magramal ought to be he didn’t trip over or break his nose on anything, and (b) a suspicious-looking extra moon. The Somebody Else’s Problem field is much simpler and more effective, and what is more can be run for over a hundred years on a single flashlight battery. This is because it relies on people’s natural predisposition not to see anything they don’t want to, weren’t expecting or can’t explain. If Effrafax had painted the mountain pink and erected a cheap and simple Somebody Else’s Problem field on it, then people would have walked past the mountain, around it, even over it, and simply never have noticed that the thing was there.
  • “Overnight,” said Slartibartfast, “the whole population of Krikkit was transformed from being charming, delightful, intelligent…” “…if whimsical…” interpolated Arthur. “…ordinary people,” said Slartibartfast, “into charming, delightful, intelligent…” “…whimsical…” “…manic xenophobes. The idea of a Universe didn’t fit into their world picture, so to speak. They simply couldn’t cope with it. And so, charmingly, delightfully, intelligently, whimsically if you like, they decided to destroy it.
  • They believe in ‘peace, justice, morality, culture, sport, family life and the obliteration of all other life forms.’
  • It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.
  • And fighting was what the Silastic Armorfiends of Striterax were good at, and being good at it, they did it a lot. They fought their enemies (i.e., everybody else), they fought each other. Their planet was a complete wreck. The surface was littered with abandoned cities that were surrounded by abandoned war machines, which were in turn surrounded by deep bunkers in which the Silastic Armorfiends lived and squabbled with each other. The best way to pick a fight with a Silastic Armorfiend of Striterax was just to be born. They didn’t like it, they got resentful. And when an Armorfiend got resentful, someone got hurt. An exhausting way of life, one might think, but they did seem to have an awful lot of energy. The best way of dealing with a Silastic Armorfiend was to put him in a room on his own, because sooner or later he would simply beat himself up.
  • In Relativity, Matter tells Space how to curve, and Space tells Matter how to move.
  • “Do you want to have a good time?” said a voice from a doorway.
    “As far as I can tell,” said Ford, “I’m having one. Thanks.”
    “Are you rich?” said another.
    This made Ford laugh. He turned and opened his arms in a wide gesture.
    “Do I look rich?” he said.
    “Don’t know,” said the girl. “Maybe, maybe not. Maybe you’ll get rich. I have a very special service for rich people….”
    “Oh yes,” said Ford, intrigued but careful, “and what’s that?”
    “I tell them it’s okay to be rich.”
  • Some crackpot theory that instead of invading a country it would be much cheaper and more effective to make everyone think they’d been invaded.
  • The thing she took out of her bag was battered and travel-worn as if it had been hurled into prehistoric rivers, baked under the sun that shines so redly on the deserts of Kakrafoon, half buried in the marbled sands that fringe the heady vapored oceans of Santraginus V, frozen on the glaciers of the moon of Jaglan Beta, sat on, kicked around spaceships, scuffed and generally abused, and since its makers had thought that these were exactly the sorts of things that might happen to it, they had thoughtfully encased it in a sturdy plastic cover and written on it, in large friendly letters, the words “Don’t Panic.”
  • Mark Knopfler has an extraordinary ability to make a Schecter Custom Stratocaster hoot and sing like angels on a Saturday night, exhausted from being good all week and needing a stiff drink
  • Looking at the Pacific Ocean for the first time in their lives. And apparently, after a long pause, one of them said to the other, ‘You know, it’s not as big as I expected.’
  • The sign above the front door read “Come Outside,” and so, nervously, they had.
  • “They are the words that finally turned me into the hermit I have now become. It was quite sudden. I saw them, and I knew what I had to do.” The sign read: “Hold stick near center of its length. Moisten pointed end in mouth. Insert in tooth space, blunt end next to gum. Use gentle in-out motion.”
    “It seemed to me,” said Wonko the Sane, “that any civilization that had so far lost its head as to need to include a set of detailed instructions for use in a package of toothpicks, was no longer a civilization in which I could live and stay sane.”
  • See first, think later, then test. But always see first. Otherwise you will only see what you were expecting. Most scientists forget that.
  • You can’t possibly be a scientist if you mind people thinking that you’re a fool.
  • It is very easy to be blinded to the essential uselessness of them by the sense of achievement you get from getting them to work at all.
  • Beyond what used to be known as the Limitless Lightfields of Flanux until the Gray Binding Fiefdoms of Saxaquine were discovered lying behind them, lie the Gray Binding Fiefdoms of Saxaquine. Within the Gray Binding Fiefdoms of Saxaquine lies the star named Zarss, around which orbits the planet Preliumtarn in which is the land of Sevorbeupstry, and it was to the land of Sevorbeupstry that Arthur and Fenchurch came at last, a little tired by the journey. And in the land of Sevorbeupstry, they came to the Great Red Plain of Rars, which was bounded on the south side by the Quentulus Quazgar Mountains, on the farther side of which, according to the dying words of Prak, they would find in thirty-foot-high letters of fire God’s Final Message to His Creation. According to Prak, if Arthur’s memory served him right, the place was guarded by the Lajestic Vantrashell of Lob, and so, after a manner, it proved to be. He was a little man in a strange hat and he sold them a ticket.
  • They gazed at God’s Final Message to His Creation in wonderment, and were slowly and ineffably filled with a great sense of peace, and of final and complete understanding.
  • The fearsome invaders who, like most warlike races were only on the rampage because they couldn’t cope with things at home,
  • Thanks for their support, help and constructive abuse.
  • If anybody had known anything about them, it is just possible that a most terrible catastrophe would have been averted—or, at least, would have had to find a different way to happen.
  • One of the extraordinary things about life is the sort of places it’s prepared to put up with living.
  • Great hair, a profound understanding of strategic lip gloss, the intelligence to understand the world and a tiny secret interior deadness which meant she didn’t care.
  • People in New York were not nice to each other without reason.
  • You can not observe without taking part.
  • The first thing to realize about parallel universes, the Guide says, is that they are not parallel. It is also important to realize that they are not, strictly speaking, universes either, but it is easiest if you don’t try to realize that until a little later, after you’ve realized that everything you’ve realized up to that moment is not true. The reason they are not universes is that any given universe is not actually a thing as such, but is just a way of looking at what is technically known as the WSOGMM, or Whole Sort of General Mish Mash. The Whole Sort of General Mish Mash doesn’t actually exist either, but is just the sum total of all the different ways there would be of looking at it if it did. The reason they are not parallel is the same reason that the sea is not parallel. It doesn’t mean anything. You can slice the Whole Sort of General Mish Mash any way you like and you will generally come up with something that someone will call home.
  • MISPWOSO (the MaxiMegalon Institute of Slowly and Painfully Working Out the Surprisingly Obvious).
  • “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.”
  • We exploit the multidimensional nature of the Universe to cut down on manufacturing costs. And we don’t sell to penniless hitchhikers. What a stupid notion that was! Find the one section of the market that, more or less by definition, doesn’t have any money, and try to sell to it. No. We sell to the affluent business traveler and his vacationing wife in a billion, billion different futures. This is the most radical, dynamic and thrusting business venture in the entire multidimensional infinity of space-time-probability ever.
  • Busy executives often didn’t have time for a full-time wife and family and would just rent them for weekends.
  • Ford kicked at the door. It opened. “Mixture of pleasure and pain,” he muttered. “Always does the trick.”
  • “Where land meets water. Where earth meets air. Where body meets mind. Where space meets time. We like to be on one side, and look at the other.”
  • “Do you have any advice for a traveler?” “Yes. Get a beach house.”
  • You come to me for advice, but you can’t cope with anything you don’t recognize. Hmmm. So we’ll have to tell you something you already know but make it sound like news, eh? Well, business as usual, I suppose.
  • You cannot see what I see because you see what you see. You cannot know what I know because you know what you know. What I see and what I know cannot be added to what you see and what you know because they are not of the same kind. Neither can it replace what you see and what you know, because that would be to replace you yourself.
  • Fire engulfed the forest, boiled into the night, then neatly put itself out, as all unscheduled fires over a certain size are now required to do by law.
  • A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof was to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
  • The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair.
  • He always found that intense multidimensional logic was something he understood best in the bath.
  • Coming soon to a dimension near you.
  • Let the past hold on to itself and let the present move forward into the future.
  • He knew that one of the things he was supposed to do as a parent was to show trust in his child, to build a sense of trust and confidence into the bedrock of relationship between them. He had had a nasty feeling that that might be an idiotic thing to do, but he did it anyway, and sure enough it had turned out to be an idiotic thing to do. You live and learn. At any rate, you live. You also panic.
  • “Well, there’s probably a lot you don’t know about me,” said Arthur. “Come to mention it, there’s probably a lot I don’t know about me either.”
  • Sometimes if you received an answer, the question might be taken away.
  • He didn’t know what from or what to, but running away seemed a prudent move.
  • It’s at times like this that you kind of wonder if it’s worth worrying about the fabric of space-time and the causal integrity of the multidimensional probability matrix and the potential collapse of all waveforms in the Whole Sort of General Mish Mash and all that sort of stuff that’s been bugging me.
  • It wasn’t his job to worry about that, though. It was his job to do his job, which was to do his job. If that led to a certain narrowness of vision and circularity of thought, then it wasn’t his job to worry about such things. Any such things that came his way were referred to others, who had, in turn, other people to refer such things to.