HITCH HIKING WITH DOUGLAS ADAMS by Stefan Posthuma
Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of
the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded
Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles
is an utterly insignificant little blue and green planet whose
ape-descendant life forms are so amazingly primitive that they
still think the digital watch is a pretty neat idea.
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 movements of small
green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it
wasn't the small pieces of paper that were unhappy.
And so the problem remained; lots of people were mean, and most
of them were miserable, even the ones with digital watches.
Many were increasingly of the opinion that they'd all made a
big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And
some even said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that
no one should ever have left the oceans.
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
café 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.
Sadly however, before she could get to a phone to tell anyone
about it, a terrible stupid catastrophe occurred, and the idea
was lost for ever.
This is not her story.
But this is the story of that terrible stupid catastrophe and
some of its consequences.
It is also the story of a book, a book called The Hitch Hiker's
Guide to the Galaxy - not an Earth book, never published on
Earth, and until that terrible catastrophe occurred, never seen
or even heard of by any Earthman.
Nevertheless, a wholly remarkable book.
In fact, it was probably the most remarkable book ever to come
out of the great publishing corporations of Ursa Minor - of which
no Earthman had heard either.
Not only is it a wholly remarkable book, it is also a highly
successful one - more popular that the Celestial Home Care
Omnibus, better selling than Fifty-three More Things to do in
Zero Gravity, and more controversial than Oolon Colluphid's
trilogy of philosofical blockbusters Where God Went Wrong, Some
More of God's Greatest Mistakes and Who is this God Person
In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern
Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitch Hicker'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 it 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.
But the story of this terrible, stupid Thursday, the story of
its extraordinary consequences, and the story of how these
consequences are inextricably intertwined with this remarkable
book begins very simply.
It begins with a house.
This is the beginning of a series of novels which together form
the most absurd story I have ever had the unspeakable pleasure to
read. It is about Life, the Universe and Everything. It is about
Earth, being a super-computer built by Magratheans, ordered by a
race of Hyper-Intelligent pan-dimensional beings who want to find
out the Question to the Answer which was fourty-two. (The famous
band Level 42 was named after this, according to Mark King,
brilliant bass player and founder of level 42). If this doesn't
puzzle you, you are not fit to read the rest of this article.
It is a story about a perfectly ordinary Earthling called Arthur
Dent. One day, his house is demolished to make way for a new
bypass, and that afternoon, his planet is demolished by
Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning
Council to make way for a hyperspatial express route. Luckily,
his friend Ford Prefect turns out not to be from Earth as he
always claimed, but from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity
of Betelgeuse. He has an Electronic Thumb which is great for
hitching rides on Spaceships. Now the Vogons never take
hitchhickers aboard, but their Dentrassi cooks just love
Hitchhickers, so Ford and Arthur are beamed aboard.
From that moment on, the most absurd things happen to poor
Arthur. He gets beamed half way around the Galaxy, insulted,
shot at, made a fool of, thrown into space, deserted and
generally not left alone. The travels through time inifinite
reaches of time to places like the Restaurant at the end of the
Universe, in which you can have lunch and watch the Universe
explode. He travels around in the Heart of Gold with its
wonderful Improbability Drive, visits the legendary planet
Magrathea, flies around in the famous Starship Bistromath, meets
Zaphod Beeblebrox, and Marvin the Paranoid Android. He finds out
about the terrible Krikkit wars and the real meaning of mice.
Also, he reads the Hitch Hickers Guide to the Galaxy.
You might be interested by the things going on in the story.
Those who are into crazy stuff like this, read the books and you
will be amazed by the imagination of Mr. Douglas Adams.
As the story unfolds itself, you will become aware of the amazing
theories Adams has about the Universe. He is constantly referring
to the Universe as something utterly unexplicable. He makes fun
of Sceince-Fiction, in a remarkable way. For example, alomost
everything in the story, from doors to drink machines have a
personality. Doors are happy ones, and their greatest pleasure is
opening for you. Also, there is Eddie, the computer on board of
the Heart of Gold, a very cheerful computer who is always trying
to be happy. On the other hand, there is Marvin. He is an android
who is always unhappy and depressed. He hates everything,
especially those super-stupid bipedal carbon based lifeforms as
Humans are called here. There are things here that are extremely
weird. Like the Disaster Area, a rock group so loud that complete
earthquackes and floods upset the planet where a concert is held.
Or the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, a creature so stupid
that when you can't see it, it thinks that it can't see you as
well. A towel can come in handy when you meet the Beast. Or what
about Eccentrica Gallumbits, the triple-breasted whore from
Eroticon six, whose erogenous zones start four miles from her
Douglas Adams is a master of creating the weirdest descriptions
and words possible. He really becomes enthousiastic when he
starts describing some of the greatest computers in the Universe
ever built. It is the part when a computer has been built to find
out the answer to the question of Live, the Universe and the
Rest. Marvel at this exerpt from The Hitch Hickers Guide to the
The sublest of hums indicated that the massive computer was now
in total active mode. After a pause it spoke to them in a voice
rich resonant and deep.
It said: 'What is this great task for which I, Deep Thought, the
second greatest computer in the Universe of Time and Space have
been called into existence?'
Lunkwill and Fook glanced at each other in surprise.
'Your task, O Computer...' began Fook.
'No, wait a minute, this isn't right,' said Lunkwill, worried.
'We distinctly desinged this computer to be the greatest one ever
and we're not making do with second best. Deep Thought,' he
addressed the computer, 'are you not as we designed you to be,
the greatest most powerful computer in all time?'
'I described myself as the second greatest,' intoned Deep
Thought, 'and such I am'.
Another worried look passed between the two programmers.
Lunkwill cleared his throat.
'There must be some mistake,' he said, 'are you not a greater
computer than the Milliard Gargantubrain at Maximegalon which can
count all the atoms in a star in a millisecond?'
'The Milliard Gargantubrain?' said Deep Thought with unconcealed
contempt. 'A mere abacus - mention it not.'
'And are you not,' said Fook leaning anxiously forward, 'a
greater analyst than the Googleplex Star Thinker in the Seventh
Galaxy of Light and Ingenuity which can calculate the trajectory
over every single dust particle throughout a five-week Dangrabad
Beta sand blizzard?'
'A five-week sand blizzard?' said Deep Thought haughtily. 'You
ask this of me who have contemplated the very vectors of the
atoms in the Big Bang itself? Molest me not with this pocket
The two programmers sat in uncomfortable silence for a moment.
Then Lunkwill leaned forward again.
'But are you not,' he said, 'a more fiendish disputant than the
Great Hyperlobic Omni-Cognate Neutron Wrangler of Ciceronicus 12,
the Magic and Indefatigable?'
'The Great Hyperlobic Omni-Cognate Neutron Wrangler,' said Deep
Thought thoroughly rolling the r s, 'could talk all four legs off
an Arcturan MegaDonkey - but only I could persuade it to go for a
'Then what,' asked Fook, 'is the problem?'
'There is no problem,' said Deep Thought with magnificent
ringing tones. 'I am simply the second greatest computer in the
Universe of Space and Time.'
'But the second?' insisted Lunkwill. 'Why do you keep saying the
second? You're surely not thinking of the Multicorticoid
Perspicutron Titan Muller are you? Or the Pondermatic? Or the...'
Contemptuous lights flashed across the computer's console. 'I
spare not a single unit of thought on these cybernetic
simpletons!' he boomed. 'I speak of none but the computer that is
to come after me!'
The above piece of text should give you an idea of what the books
are like. If you are into this, I suggest you go out NOW and try
to get hold of them. You'll be amazed.
The Hitch Hickers Guide to the Galaxy
The Restaurant at the end of the Universe
Life, the Universe and Everything
So long and thanks for all the fish
These are the four books written by Douglas Adams. He has also
written a book called 'Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency'.
It is about a brilliant computer programmer, a ghost, a time
machine and an alien. Not as absurd as the Hitch Hickers Guide,
but it has a good plot and some nice touches. The greatest
character from this book is an Electronic Monk who has been
created by some alien race because they got tired of all those
religions and let the Electronic Monks do the believing for them.
Just read the books.