Douglas Adams



British comic author, best known as the creator of "The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy", but who also created 'Dirk Gently' the holistic detective. He was born on 11th April 1952 in Cambridge, England, and died 11th May 2001 in Santa Barbara, California, USA.

  • Real name
  • Douglas Noël Adams
  • Name variations
  • Adams
  • Active years
  • 67
  • Primary profession
  • Writer·script_department·actor
  • Country
  • United Kingdom
  • Nationality
  • British
  • Gender
  • Male
  • Birth date
  • 11 March 1952
  • Place of birth
  • Cambridge
  • Death date
  • 2001-05-11
  • Death age
  • 49
  • Place of death
  • Santa Barbara· California
  • Cause of death
  • Natural causes
  • Residence
  • Brentwood· Essex·London
  • Children
  • Polly Jane Rocket Adams
  • Spouses
  • Jane Belson
  • Education
  • Brentwood School· Essex·St John's College· Cambridge
  • Member of
  • Footlights
  • Parents
  • ·Janet Adams
  • Influence
  • Jane Austen·Charles Dickens·P. G. Wodehouse·Kurt Vonnegut·Monty Python·






He studied English Literature at Cambridge University. While at university, he was a member of the prestigious Cambridge University Footlights Club. His academic experience inspired his highly regarded script for Doctor Who: Shada , which was set in Cambridge but sadly never completed for television due to a strike at the BBC. The Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann , later starred in an animated version, "Doctor Who: Shada" , which was broadcast online.

He had one daughter, Polly Jane Rocket Adams.

He claimed to have had the initial idea for his most famous work, "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" , while lying drunk in a field holding a copy of The Hitchhikers Guide to Europe. He was working on having a film of it produced at the time of his death. This eventually became The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy , which featured his close friend Stephen Fry as the Narrator.

He died of an apparent heart attack on 11 May 2001; collapsed while working out in a gym.

The day before his death (10th May 2001) the Minor Planet Centre of the International Astronomical Union named asteroid 18610 "Arthurdent", after the character Arthur Dent in "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" .

He was left-handed and had a large collection of left-handed guitars.

He helped Keith Allen with his piano lessons.

He was a big fan of the progressive rock band Pink Floyd and a friend of the guitarist David Gilmour. At his request, he helped come up with a name for a new Pink Floyd album ("The Division Bell"). In exchange, Gilmour contributed 5000 to a charity of Adams choice. He was also huge fan of The Beatles and referenced them constantly in his work.

He stated once that he always found it difficult to write for female characters.

The on-line translator Babelfish is named after the Babelfish that Adams wrote of in his novel "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy." In "The Hitchhikers Guide..." the Babelfish was a tiny fish that one puts in ones ear and then any of the galaxys myriad languages they hear is automatically translated and heard in their native language. The instant messaging software Trillian is named after the lead female character in "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy."

In September 2004, new "Tertiary Phase" episodes of "The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy" BBC Radio 4 series debuted. Prior to his death, Adams had begun work with Dirk Maggs on adapting books 3-5 of the "trilogy" for radio. Maggs has taken on the mantle of finishing the writing (based on Adams extensive notes) and directing the episodes. Phase 4 ("Quandary") began airing in May 2005, with phase 5 to follow.

The online site was created at his suggestion. The site is a web-based pseudo-encyclopedia, inspired by the style of Adams fictional Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy (hence, HHGG, or H2G2). The site was one of the first "reference" web sites maintained by contributions from the public at large.

He was an early pioneer in the personal computer explosion of the 1980s and 90s. For example, he owned the first two Apple Macintosh computers sold in the UK; was heavily involved in the development of first-person computer games (such as the computer version of "The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy", "Bureaucracy" and "Starship Titanic"); and was an early adopter of the Internet. For several years, he was actively involved in the Internet newsgroup,, and would often personally answer messages in that forum. However, as the Internet became more popular, the questions became more and more repetitions of the same (or were offensive and/or insulting), and his personal responses became rare.

Adams used to shower with the hot water running, and stay there until he had come up with an idea. His water bill was extremely high.

He was a founding member of the team that launched Comic Relief.

He had been a huge fan of the British science-fiction series "Doctor Who" since its debut and had submitted story ideas to the series which were initially rejected before being accepted to write "Doctor Who" {The Pirate Planet: Part One (#16.5)} . His second script for the series, "Doctor Who" {City of Death: Part One (#17.5)} , which he co-wrote with producer Graham Williams under the pseudonym of David Agnew, is regarded by many fans as one of the best stories in the series entire run. It was voted the seventh greatest story in a "Doctor Who" Magazine poll in 1998 and the fifth greatest "Doctor Who" story in fan site Outpost Gallifreys 40th Anniversary Poll.

When he died, his Internet site was flooded by condolence messages, a big amount of whose simply read "So long and thanks for all the fish", one of the catchphrases from the Hitchhikers Guide. The same sentence is also his gravestone epitaph.

During a lecture Neil Gaiman told that when he was a guest in Adams house, he asked "Where are the towels?" and Adams answered "I dont know". Half of the audience sniggered at that, and Gaiman said, "Many of you dont know why its funny that Adams didnt know where his towels were. Too bad." It was a reference to the towels running joke in Hitchhikers Guide.

He was proud that his initials spelled DNA and used to point it out.

He was well-known for his love of technology, especially products by Apple.

He was a notorious procrastinator and his editors once had to lock him inside of a hotel room to get him to finish a book.

(September 2004) Posthumously playing the part of Agrajag in the new "Tertiary Phase" episodes of "The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy" BBC4 radio series (adapted from book 3, "Life, The Universe, and Everything"). This was done by incorporating recordings of him reading his books.

According to The Salmon of Doubt, he once took an impromptu trip to Australia to comparatively test-drive a new underwater vehicle and a sting ray for an article so that he could procrastinate on a book. Similarly, he once hiked up Mt. Kilimanjaro - spending a part of a trip in a rhino suit - for similar purposes.

The Asteroid Apophis, which was classified as a Near Earth Object with a record-breaking Torino Scale rating and thought to be a threat to Earth in 2036(more accurate measurements followed and the threat was scaled down entirely) had the designation 99942. Numerology enthusiasts would notice that that is the UK Emergency Services phone number and the number of the Meaning of Life in quick succession.

From The Salmon of Doubt: "Douglas had an amazing capacity for procrastination, but more about that later...".

On the documentary Paris in the Springtime , Steven Moffat claimed that if Adams had lived he would probably have been approached to write for the 21st century revival of "Doctor Who" . This is despite the fact no other writer from the original series was used until 2017.

According to Peter Davison , Adams once told him that the secret to making "Doctor Who" well was "making it simple enough for the adults to understand but complicated enough to hold the childrens attention".


I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.

[agreeing that Starship Titanic (1998) (VG) should be delayed,rather than released incomplete] We should nail our colors to the mast,of quality.

When it comes down to it, my principle is this - Arthur should be,British. The rest of the cast should be decided purely on merit and not,on nationality.

Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no,account be allowed to do the job.

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from,the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent,disinclination to do so.

Even he, to whom most things that most people would think were pretty,smart were pretty dumb, thought it was pretty smart.

Cyberspace is - or can be - a good, friendly and egalitarian place to,meet.

I find the whole business of religion profoundly interesting. But it,does mystify me that otherwise intelligent people take it seriously.

There is a particular disdain with which Siamese cats regard you. Anyone,who has walked in on the Queen cleaning her teeth will be familiar with,the feeling.

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: It is a well known fact, that those people who most want to,rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. Anyone who is,capable of getting themselves into a position of power should on no,account be allowed to do the job. Another problem with governing people,is people.

There are two things in particular that it [the computer industry],failed to foresee: one was the coming of the Internet . . . the other,was the fact that the century would end.

See first, think later, then test. But always see first. Otherwise you,will only see what you were expecting. Most scientists forget that.

I think that "Doctor Who" (1963) is at its best when the humour,and the drama work together and that however absurd a situation may be,it is actually very, very real and it has very real consequences.

It is not considered fashionable in Britain to know things or to talk,about stuff. You should bear this in mind when visiting.

One of the best ways to keep from being unhappy is not to have a word,for it.

The inventor of the Total Perspective Vortex did it, as is the case with,the best of things, to annoy his wife.

[So long and thanks for all the fish] She was mostly immensely relieved,to think that virtually everything that anybody had ever told her was,wrong.

All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others.

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.

We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works.

He stood up straight and looked the world squarely in the fields and hills. To add weight to his words he stuck the rabbit bone in his hair. He spread his arm out wide. "I will go mad!" he annouced.

Life is wasted on the living.

The story so far:In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.

The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.

The Guide says 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.

Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?,Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.

Nothing travels faster than the speed of light, with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.

If you try and take a cat apart to see how it works, the first thing you have on your hands is a non-working cat.

My doctor says that I have a malformed public-duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fibre and that I am therefore excused from saving universes.

He attacked everything in life with a mix of extraordinary genius and naive incompetence, and it was often difficult to tell which was which.

To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem.

Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the Universe than we do now.

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.

Arthur blinked at the screens and felt he was missing something important. Suddenly he realized what it was. "Is there any tea on this spaceship?" he asked.

The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it which the merely improbable lacks.

Simple. I got very bored and depressed, so I went and plugged myself in to its external computer feed. I talked to the computer at great length and explained my view of the Universe to it," said Marvin. "And what happened?" pressed Ford. "It committed suicide," said Marvin and stalked off back to the Heart of Gold.

I think fish is nice, but then I think that rain is wet, so who am I to judge?,I have detected disturbances in the wash. 'The wash?'The space-time wash. 'Are we talking about some sort of Vogon laundromat, or what are we talking about?'Eddies in the space-time continuum. 'Ah. . . is he. Is he. 'What?'Er, who is Eddy, then, exactly?,Ow! My brains!,Ford carried on counting quietly. This is about the most aggressive thing you can do to a computer, the equivalent of going up to a human being and saying "Blood. . . blood. . . blood. . . blood. . .

The only moral it is possible to draw from this story is that one should never throw the Q letter into a privet bush, but unfortunately there are times when it is unavoidable.

Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.

So, the world is fine. We don’t have to save the world—the world is big enough to look after itself. What we have to be concerned about, is whether or not the world we live in, will be capable of sustaining us in it. That’s what we need to think about.

My favourite piece of information is that Branwell Brontë, brother of Emily and Charlotte, died standing up leaning against a mantle piece, in order to prove it could be done. This is not quite true, in fact. My absolute favourite piece of information is the fact that young sloths are so inept that they frequently grab their own arms and legs instead of tree limbs, and fall out of trees. However, this is not relevant to what is currently on my mind because it concerns sloths, whereas the Branwell Brontë piece of information concerns writers and feeling like death and doing things to prove they can be done, all of which are pertinent to my current situation to a degree that is, frankly, spooky.

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.

He felt a spasm of excitement because he knew instinctively who it was, or at least knew who it was he wanted it to be, and once you know what it is you want to be true, instinct is a very useful device for enabling you to know that it is.

He had seen the whole Universe stretching to infinity around him—everything. And with it had come the clear and extraordinary knowledge that he was the most important thing in it. Having a conceited ego is one thing. Actually being told by a machine is another.

The Ultimate Answer to Life, The Universe and Everything is. . . 42!,Arthur shook his head and sat down. He looked up. “I thought you must be dead …” he said simply. “So did I for a while,” said Ford, “and then I decided I was a lemon for a couple of weeks. I kept myself amused all that time jumping in and out of a gin and tonic.

Stomp stomp. Whirr. Pleased to be of service. Shut up. Thank you. Stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp. Whirr. Thank you for making a simple door very happy. Hope your diodes rot. Thank you. Have a nice day. Stomp stomp stomp stomp. Whirr. It is my pleasure to open for you. . . Zark off. . . . and my satisfaction to close again with the knowledge of a job well done. I said zark off. Thank you for listening to this message.

Ford Prefect suppressed a little giggle of evil satisfaction, realized that he had no reason to suppress it, and laughed out loud, a wicked laugh.

Fenchurch had red mullet and said it was delicious. Arthur had a swordfish steak and said it made him angry. He grabbed a passing waitress by the arm and berated her. “Why’s this fish so bloody good?” he demanded, angrily.

A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.

Lovers of print are simply confusing the plate for the food.

Could be. I’m a pretty dangerous dude when I’m cornered. ”“Yeah,” said the voice from under the table, “you go to pieces so fast people get hit by the shrapnel.

He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.

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.

It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.

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.

Life,” said Marvin dolefully, “loathe it or ignore it, you can’t like it.

And all dared to brave unknown terrors, to do mighty deeds, to boldly split infinitives that no man had split before--and thus was the Empire forged.

Beppu (n. )The triumphant slamming shut of a book after reading the final page.

Alltami (n. )The ancient art of being able to balance the hot and cold shower taps.

Aberystwyth (n. )A nostalgic yearning which is in itself more pleasant than the thing being yearned for.

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 calculator stuff.

ART: None. The function of art is to hold the mirror up to nature, and there simply isn’t a mirror big enough—see point one.

But for a moment Dirk had a sense of inifinite loss and sadness that somewhere among the frenzy of information noise that daily rattled the lives of men he thought he might have heard a few notes that denoted the movements of gods.

[The Head of Radio Three] had been ensnared by the Music Director of the college and a Professor of Philosophy. These two were busy explaining to the harassed man that the phrase "too much Mozart" was, given any reasonable definition of those three words, an inherently self-contradictory expression, and that any sentence which contained such a phrase would be thereby rendered meaningless and could not, consequently, be advanced as part of an argument in favour of any given programme-scheduling strategy.

Reality is frequently inaccurate.

. . . just because you see something, it doesn’t mean to say it’s there. And if you don’t see something, it doesn’t mean to say it’s not there. It’s only what your senses bring to your attention.

I certainly don’t like the idea of missionaries. In fact, the whole business fills me with fear and alarm. I don’t believe in God, or at least not in the one we’ve invented for ourselves in England to fulfill our peculiarly English needs, and certainly not in the ones they’ve invented in America, who supply their servants with toupees, television stations, and, most important, toll-free telephone numbers. I wish that people who did believe in such things would keep them to themselves and not export them to the developing world.

Yes. 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.

There are some people you like immediately, some whom you think you might learn to like in the fullness of time, and some that you simply want to push away from you with a sharp stick.

A life that is burdened with expectations is a heavy life. Its fruit is sorrow and disappointment.

Words used carelessly, as if they did not matter in any serious way, often allowed otherwise well-guarded truths to seep through.

People who need to bully you are the easiest to push around.

Rather than arriving five hours late and flustered, it would be better all around if he were to arrive five hours and a few extra minutes late, but triumphantly in command.

We have a saying up here. ‘Life is wasted on the living.

One of the major problems encountered in time travel is not that of accidentally becoming your own father or mother. There is no problem involved in becoming your own father or mother that a broad-minded and well-adjusted family can’t cope with. There is no problem about changing the course of history—the course of history does not change because it all fits together like a jigsaw. All the important changes have happened before the things they were supposed to change and it all sorts itself out in the end.

Many words and expressions which only a matter of decades ago were considered so distastefully explicit that, were they merely to be breathed in public, the perpetrator would be shunned, barred from polite society, and in some extreme cases shot through the lungs, are now thought to be very healthy and proper, and their use in everyday speech and writing is seen as evidence of a well-adjusted, relaxed and totally un****ed-up personality,You live and learn. At any rate, you live.

Adams has done a bit of everything, from radio to television to designing computer games. Not all of them worked out. “These are life’s little learning experiences,” he said. “You know what a learning experience is? A learning experience is one of those things that says, ‘You know that thing you just did? Don’t do that. ’ “At the end of all this being-determined-to-be-a-jack-of-all-trades, I think I’m better off just sitting down and putting a hundred thousand words in a cunning order. ” Adams writes “slowly and painfully. ” “People assume you sit in a room, looking pensive and writing great thoughts,” he said. “But you mostly sit in a room looking panic-stricken and hoping they haven’t put a guard on the door yet.

The light was only just visible - except of course that there was no one to see, no witnesses, not this time, but it was nevertheless a light.

He let the curtain drop and the terrible light that had played on his features went off to play somewhere more healthy.

This planet has — or rather had — a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much all of the time.

If everyone knew exactly what I was going to say, then there would be no point in my saying it, would there?,David Attenborough has said that Bali is the most beautiful place in the world, but he must have been there longer than we were, and seen different bits, because most of what we saw in the couple of days we were there sorting out our travel arrangements was awful. It was just the tourist area, i. e.

that part of Bali which has been made almost exactly the same as everywhere else in the world for the sake of people who have come all this way to see Bali.

He was alone with his thoughts. They were extremely unpleasant thoughts and he would rather have had a chaperon.

When the hunt for new sources of energy had at one point got particularly frantic, one bright young chap suddenly spotted that one place which had never used up all its available energy was - the past. And with the sudden rush of blood to the head that such insights tend to induce, he invented a way of mining it that very same night, and within a year huge tracts of the past were being drained of all their energy and simply wasting away. Those who claimed that the past should be left unspoilt were accused of indulgingin an extremely expensive form of sentimentality.

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.

The quality of any advice anybody has to offer has to be judged against the quality of life they actually lead.

He was following the Earth through its days, drifting with the rhythms of its myriad pulses, seeping through the webs of its life, swelling with its tides, turning with its weight.

Conceited little mega-puppy.

The longest and most destructive party ever held is now into its fourth generation and still no one shows any signs of leaving. Somebody did once look at his watch, but that was eleven years ago now, and there has been no follow up.

How many roads must a man walk down?,When one day an expedition was sent to the spatial coordinates that Voojagig had claimed for the planet they discovered only a small asteroid inhabited by a solitary old man who claimed repeatedly that nothing was true, though he was later discovered to be lying.

Howl howl gargle howl gargle howl howl howl gargle howl gargle howl howl gargle gargle howl gargle gargle gargle howl slurrp uuuurgh should have a good time. Message repeats.

Zaphod had never heard of this. He believed that he had heard of all the fun things in the Galaxy, so he assumed that the Total Perspective Vortex was not fun.

The last time anybody made a list of the top hundred character attributes of New Yorkers, common sense snuck in at number 79.

The main reception foyer was almost empty but Ford nevertheless weaved his way through it.

The Googleplex Star Thinker is a super-computer from the Seventh Galaxy of Light and Ingenuity and has the ability to calculate the trajectory of every single dust particle during a five-week Dangrabad Beta sand blizzard. The Deep Thought computer call it a pocket calculator in comparison to itself.

Time is the worst place, so to speak, to get lost in, as Arthur Dent could testify, having been lost in both time and space a good deal. At least being lost in space kept you busy.

We started to collect more and more of these words and concepts, and began to realize what an arbitrarily selective work the Oxford English Dictionary is. It simply doesn’t recognize huge wodges of human experience. Like, for instance, standing in the kitchen wondering what you went in there for. Everybody does it, but because there isn’t—or wasn’t—a word for it, everyone thinks it’s something that only they do and that they are therefore more stupid than other people. It is reassuring to realize that everybody is as stupid as you are and that all we are doing when we are standing in the kitchen wondering what we came in here for is “woking.

But she was finding it increasingly easy to believe that God, if there was a God, and if it was remotely possible that any godlike being who could order the disposition of particles at the creation of the Universe would also be interested in directing traffic on the M4, did not want her to fly to Norway either.

The chances of finding out what’s really going on in the universe are so remote, the only thing to do is hang the sense of it and keep yourself occupied.

The history of every major galactic civilisation tends to pass through three distinct and recognisable phases, those of Survival, Enquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why and Where phases. For instance, the first phase is characterised by the question How can we eat?, the second by the question Why do we eat?, and the third but the question Where shall we have lunch?,He would insult the Universe. That is, he would insult everybody in it. Individually, personally, one by one, and (this was the thing he really decided to grit his teeth over) in alphabetical order.

In an infinite Universe anything can happen," said Ford, "Even survival. Strange but true.

After five seconds there was a click, and the entire Universe was there in the box with him.

When I was young I used to have this nightmare about dying. I used to lie awake at night screaming. All my schoolfriends went to heaven or hell, and I was sent to Southend.

Having not said anything the first time, it was somehow even more difficult to broach the subject the second time around.

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.

He wondered if it was safe to grin. Very slowly and carefully, he grinned. It was safe.

His eyes passed over the solid shapes of the instruments and computers that lined the bridge. They winked away innocently at him. He stared out at the stars, but none of them said a word.

He was a man who was charged with the work he did in life because he was not one to ask questions - not so much on account of any natural quality of discretion as because he simply could never think of any questions to ask. . . . On the strength of which he had guaranteed himself regular employment for as long as he cared to live.

Zaphod marched quickly down the passageway, nervous as hell, but trying to hide it by striding purposefully.

He recalls a lot of family worry about what he was going to do, and while he still sent in the occasional sketch to radio shows, he acknowledges that his confidence was extremely low. Despite his subsequent success and wealth, this propensity for a lack of confidence has continued. “I have terrible periods of lack of confidence,” he explains. “I just don’t believe I can do it and no evidence to the contrary will sway me from that view. I briefly did therapy, but after a while I realised it is just like a farmer complaining about the weather. You can’t fix the weather—you just have to get on with it. ”So has that approach helped him? “Not necessarily,” he shrugs.

I was once in San Francisco, and I parked in the only available space, which happened to be on the other side of the street. The law descended on me. Was I aware of how dangerous the manoeuvre I’d just made was? I looked at the law a bit blankly. What had I done wrong? I had, said the law, parked against the flow of traffic. Puzzled, I looked up and down the street. What traffic? I asked. The traffic that would be there, said the law, if there was any traffic. This was a bit metaphysical, even for me, so I explained, a bit lamely, that in England we just park wherever we can find a parking space available, and weren’t that fussy about which side of the street it was on. He looked at me aghast, as if I was lucky to have got out of a country of such wild and crazy car parkers alive, and promptly gave me a ticket. Clearly he would rather have deported me before my subversive ideas brought chaos and anarchy to streets that normally had to cope with nothing more alarming than a few simple assault rifles. Which, as we know, in the States are perfectly legal, and without which they would be overrun by herds of deer, overbearing government officers, and lawless British tea importers.

Gilks sighed. ‘You’re a clever man, Cjelli, I grant you that,’ he said, ‘but you make the samemistake a lot of clever people do of thinking everyone else is stupid.

Zaphod did not want to tangle with them and, deciding that just as discretion is the better part of valor, so was cowardice is the better part of discretion, he valiantly hid himself in a closet.

I wanted to join Footlights,” he says. “I wanted to be a writer-performer like the Pythons. In fact I wanted to be John Cleese and it took me some time to realise that the job was in fact taken.

The best way to get a drink out of a Vogon is to stick your finger down his throat.

Jane, who is much better at reading guide books than I am (I always read them on the way back to see what I missed, it’s often quite a shock), discovered something wonderful in the book she was reading. Did I know, she asked, that Brisbane was originally founded as a penal colony for convicts who committed new offences after they had arrived in Australia ? I spent a good half hour enjoying this single piece of information. It was wonderful. There we British sat, poor grey sodden creatures, huddling under our grey northern sky that seeped like a rancid dish cloth, busy sending those we wished to punish most severely to sit in bright sunlight on the coast of the Tasman Sea at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef and maybe do some surfing too. No wonder the Australians have a particular kind of smile that they reserve exclusively for use on the British.

They wouldn’t even lift a finger to save their own grandmothers from the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal without orders signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public inquiry, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighters.

Arthur felt happy. He was terribly pleased that the day was for once working out so much according to plan. Only twenty minutes ago he had decided he would go mad, and now here he was already chasing a Chesterfield sofa across the fields of prehistoric Earth.

There was a sort of gallery structure in the roof space which held a bed and also a bathroom which you could actually swing a cat in. But only if it was a reasonably patient cat and didn’t mind a few nasty cracks about the head.

You know because you’ve been it, and I know because I’m dead and it gives one such a wonderfully uncluttered perspective.

Anything that thinks logically can be fooled by something else that thinks at least as logically as it does.

The idea was fantastically, wildly improbable. But like most fantastically, wildly improbable ideas it was at least as worthy of consideration as a more mundane one to which the facts had been strenuously bent to fit.

In fact it was altogether an odd dog, of uncertain breed, or breeds. It was large and black, but its hair was tufty, its body scrawny and clumsy, and its manner edgy, anxious, verging on the completely neurotic. Whenever it came to a halt for a moment or so, the business of starting up again often seemed to cause it trouble, as if it had difficulty in remembering where it had left each of its legs.

So what part did I play in all this? Well, none really. They completely ignored me for the whole twenty or thirty minutes. Which was perfectly fine, of course, I didn’t mind. But it did puzzle me, because early every morning they would come yelping and scratching around the doors and windows of my house until I got up and took them for their walk. If anything disturbed the daily ritual, like I had to drive into town, or have a meeting, or fly to England or something, they would get thoroughly miserable and simply not know what to do. Despite the fact that they would always completely ignore me whenever we went on our walks together, they couldn’t just go and have a walk without me. This revealed a profoundly philosophical bent in these dogs that were not mine, because they had worked out that I had to be there in order for them to be able to ignore me properly. You can’t ignore someone who isn’t there, because that’s not what “ignore” means.

I don’t know why we keep building these fucking dams,” Adams said in a surprisingly forceful British whisper. “Not only do they cause environmental and social disasters, they, with very few exceptions, all fail to do what they were supposed to do in the first place. Look at the Amazon, where they’ve all silted up. What is the reaction to that? They’re going to build another eighty of them. It’s just balmy. We must have beaver genes or something. There’s just this kind of sensational desire to build dams, and maybe that should be looked at and excised from human nature. Maybe the Human Genome Project can locate the beaver/dam-building gene and cut that out.

and then I decided I was a lemon for a couple of weeks.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has this to say about the planet of Golgafrincham: it is a planet with an ancient and mysterious history, rich in legend, red, and occasionally green with the blood of those who sought in times gone by to conquer her; a land of parched and barren landscapes, of sweet and sultry air heady with the scent of the perfumed springs that trickle over its hot and dusty rocks and nourish the dark and musky lichens beneath; a land of fevered brows and intoxicated imaginings, particularly among those who taste the lichens; a land also of cool and shaded thoughts among those who have learned to forswear the lichens and find a tree to sit beneath; a land also of steel and blood and heroism; a land of the body and of the spirit. This was its history. And in all this ancient and mysterious history, the most mysterious figures of all were without doubt those of the Great Circling poets of Arium. These Circling Poets used to live in remote mountain passes where they would lie in wait for small bands of unwary travelers, circle around them, and throw rocks at them. And when the travelers cried out, saying why didn’t they go away and get on with writing some poems instead of pestering people with all this rock-throwing business, they would suddenly stop, and then break into one of the seven hundred and ninety-four great Song Cycles of Vassillian. These songs were all of extraordinary beauty, and even more extraordinary length, and all fell into exactly the same pattern.

City of Vassillian a party of five sage princes with four horses. The princes, who are of course brave, noble and wise, travel widely in distant lands, fight giant ogres, pursue exotic philosophies, take tea with weird gods and rescue beautiful monsters from ravening princesses before finally announcing that they have achieved enlightenment and that their wanderings are therefore accomplished. The second, and much longer, part of each song would then tell of all their bickerings about which one of them is going to have to walk back. All this lay in the planet’s remote past.

The insurance companies involved had all claimed that this was, by any reasonable standards, an act of God. But, Dirk had argued, which god? Britain was constitutionally a Christian monotheistic state, and therefore any “act of God” defined in a legal document must refer to the Anglican chap in the stained glass and not to some polytheistic thug from Norway.

The deep roar of the ocean. The break of waves on farther shores that thought can find. The silent thunders of the deep. And from among it, voices calling, and yet not voices, humming trillings, wordlings, and half-articulated songs of thought. Greetings, waves of greetings, sliding back down into the inarticulate, words breaking together. A crash of sorrow on the shores of Earth. Waves of joy on--where? A world indescribably found, indescribably arrived at, indescribably wet, a song of water. A fugue of voices now, clamoring explanations, of a disaster unavertable, a world to be destroyed, a surge of helplessness, a spasm of despair, a dying fall, again the break of words. And then the fling of hope, the finding of a shadow Earth in the implications of enfolded time, submerged dimensions, the pull of parallels, the deep pull, the spin of will, the hurl and split of it, the fight. A new Earth pulled into replacement, the dolphins gone. Then stunningly a single voice, quite clear. "This bowl was brought to you by the Campaign to Save the Humans. We bid you farewell. "And then the sound of long, heavy, perfectly gray bodies rolling away into an unknown fathomless deep, quietly giggling.

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.

[. . ] when we get down to the subatomic level, the solid world we live in also consists, again rather worryingly, of almost nothing and that wherever we do find something it turns out not to actually something, but only the probability that there may something there.

And as they drifter up their minds sang with the ecstatic knowledge that either what they were doing was completely and utterly and totally impossible or that physics had a lot of catching up to do. Physics shook its head and, looking the other way, concentrated on keeping the cards going along the Euston Road and out over towards the Westway flyover, on keeping the street lights lit and on making sure that when somebody on Baker Street dropped a cheeseburger it went splat on the ground.

A fragrant breeze wandered up from the quiet sea, trailed along the beach, and drifted back to the sea again, wondering where to go next. On a mad impulse it went up to the beach again. It drifted back to sea.

Vell, Zaphod’s just zis guy, you know?,Janx Spirit : Janx Spirit is a rather potent alcoholic beverage, and is used heavily in drinking games that are played in the hyperspace ports that serve the madranite mining belts in the star system of Orion Beta. The game is not unlike the Earth game called Indian Wrestling, and is played like this: Two contestants sit at either side of a table, with a glass in front of each of them. Between them would be placed a bottle of Janx Spirit — as immortalized in that ancient Orion mining song :“Oh don’t give me no more of that Old Janx SpiritNo, don’t you give me no more of that Old Janx SpiritFor my head will fly, my tongue will lie, my eyes will fry and I may dieWon’t you pour me one more of that sinful Old Janx Spirit”Each of the two contestants would then concentrate their will on the bottle and attempt to tip it and pour spirit into the glass of his opponent – who would then have to drink it. The bottle would then be refilled. The game would be played again. And again. Once you started to lose you would probably keep losing, because one of the effects of Janx spirit is to depress telepsychic power. As soon as a predetermined quantity had been consumed, the final loser would have to perform a forfeit, which was usually obscenely biological.

Numbers written on restaurant bills within the confines of restaurants do not follow the same mathematical laws as numbers written on any other pieces of paper in any other parts of the Universe. This single fact took the scientific world by storm. It completely revolutionized it. So many mathematical conferences got held in such good restaurants that many of the finest minds of a generation died of obesity and heart failure and the science of maths was put back by years.

Structural linguistics is a bitterly divided and unhappy profession, and a large number of its practitioners spend many nights drowning their sorrows in Ouisghian Zodahs.

And so the problem remained; lots of people were mean, and most were miserable, even the ones with digital watches.

the only thing that really gets hurt when you try and change time is yourself.

Time travel? I believe there are people regularly travelling back from the future and interfering with our lives on a daily basis. The evidence is all around us. I’m talking about how every time we make an insurance claim we discover that somehow mysteriously the exact thing we’re claiming for is now precisely excluded from our policy.

But now he felt as if the whole world were tipping backwards over his head, and this, he couldn’t help feeling, was a very worrying thing for the world to do.


The bowler approached the wicket at a lope, a trot, and then a run. He suddenly exploded in a flurry of arms and legs, out of which flew a ball.

He suddenly exploded in a flurry of arms and legs, out of which flew a ball.

He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher. . . or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.

Time is bunk.

If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands.

Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

The knack of flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.

A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

Working out the social politics of who you can trust and why is, quite literally, what a very large part of our brain has evolved to do.

To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.