THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, by Douglas Adams

A few delicious tidbits in here, to which we will add as the hours, days, weeks, months and years go by.

Re: THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, by Douglas Adams

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2015 9:22 pm

Chapter 19

Are we taking this robot with us?" said Ford, looking with distaste at Marvin, who was standing in an awkward hunched posture in the corner under a small palm tree.

Zaphod glanced away from the mirror screens which presented a panoramic view of the blighted landscape on which the Heart of Gold had now landed.

"Oh, the Paranoid Android," he said. "Yeah, we'll take him."

"But what are you supposed to do with a manically depressed robot?"

"You think you've got problems," said Marvin, as if he was addressing a newly occupied coffin, "what are you supposed to do if you are a manically depressed robot? No, don't bother to answer that, I'm fifty thousand times more intelligent than you and even I don't know the answer. It gives me a headache just trying to think down to your level."

Trillian burst in through the door from her cabin.

"My white mice have escaped!" she said.

An expression of deep worry and concern failed to cross either of Zaphod's faces.

"Nuts to your white mice," he said.

Trillian glared an upset glare at him, and disappeared again.

It is possible that her remark would have commanded greater attention had it been generally realized that human beings were only the third most intelligent life form present on the planet Earth, instead of (as was generally thought by most independent observers) the second.

***

"Good afternoon, boys."

The voice was oddly familiar, but oddly different. It had a matriarchal twang. It announced itself to the crew as they arrived at the airlock hatchway that would let them out on the planet surface.

They looked at each other in puzzlement.

"It's the computer," explained Zaphod. "I discovered it had an emergency back-up personality that I thought might work out better." "Now this is going to be your first day out on a strange new planet," continued Eddie's new voice, "so I want you all wrapped up snug and warm, and no playing with any naughty bug-eyed monsters."

Zaphod tapped impatiently on the hatch.

"I'm sorry," he said, "I think we might be better off with a slide rule."

"Right!" snapped the computer. "Who said that?"

"Will you open up the exit hatch, please, computer?" said Zaphod. trying not to get angry.

"Not until whoever said that owns up," urged the computer, stamping a few synapses closed.

"Oh God," muttered Ford, slumped against a bulkhead. He started to count to ten. He was desperately worried that one day sentient life forms would forget how to do this. Only by counting could humans demonstrate their independence of computers.

"Come on," said Eddie sternly.

"Computer ..." began Zaphod.

"I'm waiting," interrupted Eddie. "I can wait all day if necessary ..."

"Computer ..." said Zaphod again, who had been trying to think of some subtle piece of reasoning to put the computer down with, and had decided not to bother competing with it on its own ground, "if you don't open that exit hatch this moment I shall zap straight off to your major data banks and reprogram you with a very large ax, got that?"

Eddie, shocked, paused and considered this.

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 ...

Finally Eddie said quietly, "I can see this relationship is something we're all going to have to work at," and the hatchway opened.

An icy wind ripped into them, they hugged themselves warmly and stepped down the ramp on to the barren dust of Magrathea.

"It'll all end in tears, I know it," shouted Eddie after them, and closed the hatchway again.

A few minutes later he opened and closed the hatchway again in response to a command that caught him entirely by surprise.
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Re: THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, by Douglas Adams

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2015 9:23 pm

Chapter 20

Five figures wandered slowly over the blighted land. Bits of it were dullish gray, bits of it dullish brown, the rest of it rather less interesting to look at. It was like a dried-out marsh, now barren of all vegetation and covered with a layer of dust about an inch thick. It was very cold.

Zaphod was clearly rather depressed about it. He stalked off by himself and was soon lost to sight behind a slight rise in the ground.

The wind stung Arthur's eyes and ears, and the stale thin air clasped his throat. However, the thing that was stung most was his mind.

"It's fantastic ..." he said, and his own voice rattled his ears. Sound carried badly in this thin atmosphere.

"Desolate hole, if you ask me," said Ford. "I could have more fun in a cat litter." He felt a mounting irritation. Of all the planets in all the star systems of all the Galaxy -- many wild and exotic, seething with life -- didn't he just have to turn up at a dump like this after fifteen years of being a castaway? Not even a hot-dog stand in evidence. He stooped down and picked up a cold clod of earth, but there was nothing underneath it worth crossing thousands of light-years to look at.

"No," insisted Arthur, "don't you understand, this is the first time I've actually stood on the surface of another planet ... a whole alien world ...! Pity it's such a dump though."

Trillian hugged herself, shivered and frowned. She could have sworn she saw a slight and unexpected movement out of the corner of her eye, but when she glanced in that direction all she could see was the ship, still and silent, a hundred yards or so behind them.

She was relieved when a second or so later they caught sight of Zaphod standing on top of the ridge of ground and waving to them to come and join him.

He seemed to be excited, but they couldn't clearly hear what he was saying because of the thinnish atmosphere and the wind.

As they approached the ridge of higher ground they became aware that it seemed to be circular -- a crater about a hundred and fifty yards wide. Round the outside of the crater the sloping ground was spattered with black and red lumps. They stopped and looked at a piece. It was wet. It was rubbery.

With horror they suddenly realized that it was fresh whalemeat.

At the top of the crater's lip they met Zaphod.

"Look," he said, pointing into the crater.

In the center lay the exploded carcass of a lonely sperm whale that hadn't lived long enough to be disappointed with its lot. The silence was only disturbed by the slight involuntary spasms of Trillian's throat.

"I suppose there's no point in trying to bury it?" murmured Arthur, and then wished he hadn't.

"Come," said Zaphod, and started back down into the crater.

"What, down there?" said Trillian with severe distaste.

"Yeah," said Zaphod, "come on, I've got something to show you."

"We can see it," said Trillian.

"Not that," said Zaphod, "something else. Come on."

They all hesitated.

"Come on," insisted Zaphod, "I've found a way in."

"In?" said Arthur in horror.

"Into the interior of the planet! An underground passage. The force of the whale's impact cracked it open, and that's where we have to go. Where no man has trod these five million years, into the very depths of time itself ..."

Marvin started his ironical humming again.

Zaphod hit him and he shut up.

With little shudders of disgust they all followed Zaphod down the incline into the crater, trying very hard to avoid looking at its unfortunate creator.

"Life," said Marvin dolefully. "loathe it or ignore it, you can't like it."

The ground had caved in where the whale had hit it, revealing a network of galleries and passages, now largely obstructed by collapsed rubble and entrails. Zaphod had made a start clearing a way into one of them, but Marvin was able to do it rather faster. Dank air wafted out of its dark recesses, and as Zaphod shone a flashlight into it, little was visible in the dusty gloom.

"According to the legends," he said, "the Magratheans lived most of their lives underground."

"Why's that?" said Arthur. "Did the surface become too polluted or overpopulated?"

"No, I don't think so," said Zaphod. "I think they just didn't like it very much."

"Are you sure you know what you're doing?" said Trillian, peering nervously into the darkness. "We've been attacked once already, you know."

"Look, kid, I promise you the live population of this planet is nil plus the four of us, so come on, let's get on in there. Er, hey, Earthman ..."

"Arthur," said Arthur.

"Yeah, could you just sort of keep this robot with you and guard this end of the passageway. Okay?"

"Guard?" said Arthur. "What from? You just said there's no one here."

"Yeah, well, just for safety, okay?" said Zaphod.

"Whose? Yours or mine?"

"Good lad. Okay, here we go."

Zaphod scrambled down into the passage, followed by Trillian and Ford.

"Well, I hope you all have a really miserable time," complained Arthur.

"Don't worry," Marvin assured him, "they will."

In a few seconds they had disappeared from view.

Arthur stamped around in a huff, and then decided that a whale's graveyard is not on the whole a good place to stamp around in.

Marvin eyed him balefully for a moment, and then turned himself off.

***

Zaphod marched quickly down the passageway, nervous as hell, but trying to hide it by striding purposefully. He flung the beam around. The walls were covered in dark tiles and were cold to the touch, the air thick with decay.

"There, what did I tell you?" he said. "An inhabited planet. Magrathea," and he strode on through the dirt and debris that littered the tile floors.

Trillian was reminded unavoidably of the London Underground, though it was less thoroughly squalid.

At intervals along the walls the tiles gave way to large mosaics -- simple angular patterns in bright colors. Trillian stopped and studied one of them but could not interpret any sense in them. She called to Zaphod.

"Hey, have you any idea what these strange symbols are?"

"I think they're just strange symbols of some kind," said Zaphod, hardly glancing back.

Trillian shrugged and hurried after him.

From time to time a doorway led either to the left or right into smallish chambers which Ford discovered to be full of derelict computer equipment. He dragged Zaphod into one to have a look. Trillian followed.

"Look," said Ford, "you reckon this is Magrathea ..."

"Yeah," said Zaphod, "and we heard the voice, right?"

"Okay, so I've bought the fact that it's Magrathea -- for the moment. What you have so far said nothing about is how in the Galaxy you found it. You didn't just look it up in a star atlas, that's for sure."

"Research. Government archives. Detective work. Few lucky guesses. Easy."

"And then you stole the Heart of Gold to come and look for it with?"

"I stole it to look for a lot of things."

"A lot of things?" said Ford in surprise. "Like what?"

"I don't know."

"What?"

"I don't know what I'm looking for."

"What not?"

"Because ... because ... I think it might be because if I knew I wouldn't be able to look for them."

"What, are you crazy?"

"It's a possibility I haven't ruled out yet," said Zaphod quietly. "I only know as much about myself as my mind can work out under its current conditions. And its current conditions are not good."

For a long time nobody said anything as Ford gazed at Zaphod with a mind suddenly full of worry.

"Listen, old friend, if you want to ..." started Ford eventually.

"No, wait ... I'll tell you something," said Zaphod. "I freewheel a lot. I get an idea to do something, and, hey, why not, I do it. I reckon I'll become President of the Galaxy, and it just happens, it's easy. I decide to steal this ship. I decide to look for Magrathea, and it all just happens. Yeah, I work out how it can best be done, right, but it always works out. It's like having a Galacticredit card which keeps on working though you never send off the checks. And then whenever I stop and think -- why did I want to do something? -- how did I work out how to do it? -- I get a very strong desire just to stop thinking about it. Like I have now. It's a big effort to talk about it."

Zaphod paused for a while. For a while there was silence. Then he frowned and said, "Last night I was worrying about this again. About the fact that part of my mind just didn't seem to work properly. Then it occurred to me that the way it seemed was that someone else was using my mind to have good ideas with, without telling me about it. I put the two ideas together and decided that maybe that somebody had locked off part of my mind for that purpose, which was why I couldn't use it. I wondered if there was a way I could check.

"I went to the ship's medical bay and plugged myself into the encephalographic screen. I went through every major screening test on both my heads -- all the tests I had to go through under Government medical officers before my nomination for presidency could be properly ratified. They showed up nothing. Nothing unexpected at least. They showed that I was clever, imaginative, irresponsible, untrustworthy, extrovert, nothing you couldn't have guessed. And no other anomalies. So I started inventing further tests, completely at random. Nothing. Then I tried superimposing the results from one head on top of the results from the other head. Still nothing. Finally I got silly, because I'd given it all up as nothing more than an attack of paranoia. Last thing I did before I packed it in was take the superimposed picture and look at it through a green filter. You remember I was always superstitious about the color green when I was a kid? I always wanted to be a pilot on one of the trading scouts?"

Ford nodded

"And there it was," said Zaphod, "clear as day. A whole section in the middle of both brains that related only to each other and not to anything else around them. Some bastard had cauterized all the synapses and electronically traumatized those two lumps of cerebellum."

Ford stared at him, aghast. Trillian had turned white.

"Somebody did that to you?" whispered Ford.

"Yeah."

"But have you any idea who? Or why?"

"Why? I can only guess. But I do know who the bastard was."

"You know? How do you know?"

"Because they left their initials burned into the cauterized synapses. They left them there for me to see."

Ford stared at him in horror and felt his skin begin to crawl.

"Initials? Burned into your brain?"

"Yeah."

"Well, what were they, for God's sake?"

Zaphod looked at him in silence again for a moment. Then he looked away.

"Z.B.," he said quietly.

At that moment a steel shutter slammed down behind them and gas started to pour into the chamber.

"I'll tell you about it later," choked Zaphod as all three passed out.
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Re: THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, by Douglas Adams

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2015 9:23 pm

Chapter 21

On the surface of Magrathea Arthur wandered about moodily. Ford had thoughtfully left him his copy of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy to while away the time with. He pushed a few buttons at random.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a very unevenly edited book and contains many passages that simply seemed to its editors like a good idea at the time.

One of these (the one Arthur now came across) supposedly relates the experiences of one Veet Voojagig, a quiet young student at the University of Maximegalon, who pursued a brilliant academic career studying ancient philology, transformational ethics and the wave harmonic theory of historical perception, and then, after a night of drinking Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters with Zapbod Beeblebrox, became increasingly obsessed with the problem of what had happened to all the ballpoints he'd bought over the past few years.

There followed a long period of painstaking research during which he visited all the major centers of ballpoint loss throughout the Galaxy and eventually came up with a quaint little theory which quite caught the public imagination at the time. Somewhere in the cosmos, he said, along with all the planets inhabited by humanoids, reptiloids, fishoids, walking treeoids and superintelligent shades of the color blue, there was also a planet entirely given over to ballpoint life forms. And it was to this planet that unattended ballpoints would make their way, slipping away quietly through wormholes in space to a world where they knew they could enjoy a uniquely ballpointoid lifestyle, responding to highly ballpoint-oriented stimuli, and generally leading the ballpoint equivalent of the good life.

And as theories go this was all very fine and pleasant until Veet Voojagig suddenly claimed to have found this planet, and to have worked there for a while driving a limousine for a family of cheap green retractables, whereupon he was aken away, locked up, wrote a book and was finally sent into tax exile, which is the usual fate reserved for those who are determined to make fools of themselves in public.

When one day an expedition was sent to the spatial coordinates that Voojagig had claimed for this 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.

There did, however, remain the question of both the mysterious sixty thousand Altairian dollars paid yearly into his Brantisvogan bank account, and of course Zaphod Beeblebrox's highly profitable secondhand ballpoint business.

***

Arthur read this, and put the book down.

The robot still sat there, completely inert.

Arthur got up and walked to the top of the crater. He walked around the crater. He watched two suns set magnificently over Magrathea.

He went back down into the crater. He woke the robot up because even a manically depressed robot is better to talk to than nobody.

"Night's falling," he said. "Look, robot, the stars are coming out."

From the heart of a dark nebula it is possible to see very few stars, and only very faintly, but they were there to be seen.

The robot obediently looked at them, then looked back.

"I know," he said. "Wretched, isn't it?"

"But that sunset! I've never seen anything like it in my wildest dreams ... the two suns! It was like mountains of fire boiling into space."

"I've seen it," said Marvin. "It's rubbish."

"We only ever had the one sun at home," persevered Arthur. "I came from a planet called Earth, you know."

"I know," said Marvin, "you keep going on about it. It sounds awful."

"Ah no, it was a beautiful place."

"Did it have oceans?"

"Oh yes," said Arthur with a sigh, "great wide rolling blue oceans ..."

"Can't bear oceans," said Marvin.

"Tell me," inquired Arthur, "do you get on well with other robots?"

"Hate them," said Marvin. "Where are you going?"

Arthur couldn't bear any more. He had got up again.

"I think I'll just take another walk," he said.

"Don't blame you," said Marvin and counted five hundred and ninety seven billion sheep before falling asleep again a second later.

Arthur slapped his arms about himself to try and get his circulation a little more enthusiastic about its job. He trudged back up the wall of the crater.

Because the atmosphere was so thin and because there was no moon, nightfall was very rapid and it was by now very dark. Because of this, Arthur practically walked into the old man before he noticed him.
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Re: THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, by Douglas Adams

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2015 9:23 pm

Chapter 22

He was standing with his back to Arthur watching the very last glimmers of light sink into blackness behind the horizon. He was tallish, elderly and dressed in a single long gray robe. When he turned, his face was thin and distinguished, careworn but not unkind, the sort of face you would happily bank with. But he didn't turn yet, not even to react to Arthur's yelp of surprise.

Eventually the last rays of the sun vanished completely, and he turned. His face was still illuminated from somewhere, and when Arthur looked for the source of the light he saw that a few yards away stood a small craft of some kind -- a small Hovercraft, Arthur guessed. It shed a dim pool of light around it.

The man looked at Arthur, sadly it seemed.

"You choose a cold night to visit our dead planet," he said.

"Who ... who are you?" stammered Arthur.

The man looked away. Again a look of sadness seemed to cross his face.

"My name is not important," he said.

He seemed to have something on his mind. Conversation was clearly something he felt he didn't have to rush at. Arthur felt awkward.

"I ... er ... you startled me ..." he said, lamely.

The man looked round to him again and slightly raised his eyebrows.

"Hmmm?" he said.

"I said you startled me."

"Do not be alarmed, I will not harm you."

Arthur frowned at him. "But you shot at us! There were missiles ..." he said.

The man gazed into the pit of the crater. The slight glow from Marvin's eyes cast very faint red shadows on the huge carcass of the whale.

The man chuckled slightly

"An automatic system," he said and gave a small sigh. "Ancient computers ranged in the bowels of the planet tick away the dark millennia, and the ages hang heavy on their dusty data banks. I think they take the occasional potshot to relieve the monotony."

He looked gravely at Arthur and said, "I'm a great fan of science, you know."

"Oh ... er, really?" said Arthur, who was beginning to find the man's curious, kindly manner disconcerting.

"Oh yes," said the old man and simply stopped talking again.

"Ah," said Arthur, "er ..." He had an odd feeling of being like a man in the act of adultery who is surprised when the woman's husband wanders into the room, changes his trousers, passes a few idle remarks about the weather and leaves again.

"You seem ill at ease," said the old man with polite concern.

"Er, no ... well, yes. Actually, you see, we weren't really expecting to find anybody about in fact. I sort of gathered that you were all dead or something ..."

"Dead?" said the old man. "Good gracious me, no, we have but slept."

"Slept?" said Arthur incredulously.

"Yes, through the economic recession, you see," said the old man, apparently unconcerned about whether Arthur understood a word he was talking about or not.

Arthur had to prompt him again.

"Er, economic recession?"

"Well, you see, five million years ago the Galactic economy collapsed, and seeing that custom-built planets are something of a luxury commodity, you see ..."

He paused and looked at Arthur.

"You know we built planets, do you?" he asked solemnly.

"Well, yes," said Arthur, "I'd sort of gathered ..."

"Fascinating trade," said the old man, and a wistful look came into his eyes, "doing the coastlines was always my favorite. Used to have endless fun doing the little bits in fjords ... so anyway," he said, trying to find his thread again, "the recession came and we decided it would save a lot of bother if we just slept through it. So we programmed the computers to revive us when it was all over."

The man stifled a very slight yawn and continued.

"The computers were index-linked to the Galactic stock-market prices, you see, so that we'd all be revived when everybody else had rebuilt the economy enough to afford our rather expensive services."

Arthur, a regular Guardian reader, was deeply shocked at this.

"That's a pretty unpleasant way to behave, isn't it?"

"Is it?" asked the old man mildly. "I'm sorry, I'm a bit out of touch."

He pointed down into the crater.

"Is that robot yours?" he said.

"No," came a thin metallic voice from the crater, "I'm mine."

"If you'd call it a robot," muttered Arthur. "It's more a sort of electronic sulking machine."

"Bring it," said the old man. Arthur was quite surprised to hear a note of decision suddenly present in the old man's voice. He called to Marvin, who crawled up the slope making a big show of being lame, which he wasn't.

"On second thoughts," said the old man, "leave it here. You must come with me. Great things are afoot." He turned toward his craft which, though no apparent signal had been given, now drifted quietly toward them through the dark.

Arthur looked down at Marvin, who now made an equally big show of turning round laboriously and trudging off down into the crater again muttering sour nothings to himself.

"Come," called the old man, "come now or you will be late."

"Late?" said Arthur. "What for?"

"What is your name, human?"

"Dent. Arthur Dent," said Arthur.

"Late, as in the late Dentarthurdent," said the old man, sternly. "It's a sort of threat, you see." Another wistful look came into his tired old eyes. "I've never been very good at them myself, but I'm told they can be very effective."

Arthur blinked at him.

"What an extraordinary person," he muttered to himself.

"I beg your pardon?" said the old man.

"Oh, nothing, I'm sorry," said Arthur in embarrassment. "All right, where do we go?"

"In my aircar," said the old man, motioning Arthur to get into the craft which had settled silently next to them. "We are going deep into the bowels of the planet where even now our race is being revived from its five-million-year slumber. Magrathea awakes."

Arthur shivered involuntarily as he seated himself next to the old man. The strangeness of it, the silent bobbing movement of the craft as it soared into the night sky, quite unsettled him.

He looked at the old man, his face illuminated by the dull glow of tiny lights on the instrument panel.

"Excuse me," he said to him, "what is your name, by the way?"

"My name?" said the old man, and the same distant sadness came into his face again. He paused. "My name," he said, "is Slartibartfast."

Arthur practically choked.

"I beg your pardon?" he spluttered.

"Slartibartfast," repeated the old man quietly.

"Slartibartfast?"

The old man looked at him gravely.

"I said it wasn't important," he said.

The aircar sailed through the night.
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Re: THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, by Douglas Adams

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2015 9:24 pm

Chapter 23

It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. 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 -- while 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.

Curiously enough, the dolphins had long known of the impending destruction of the planet Earth and had made many attempts to alert mankind to the danger; but most of their communications were misinterpreted as amusing attempts to punch footballs or whistle for tidbits, so they eventually gave up and left the Earth by their own means shortly before the Vogons arrived.

The last ever dolphin message was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double-backward somersault through a hoop while whistling the "Star-Spangled Banner," but in fact the message was this: So long and thanks for all the fish.

In fact there was only one species on the planet more intelligent than dolphins, and they spent a lot of their time in behavioral research laboratories running round inside wheels and conducting frighteningly elegant and subtle experiments on man. The fact that once again man completely misinterpreted this relationship was entirely according to these creatures' plans.
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Re: THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, by Douglas Adams

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2015 9:24 pm

Chapter 24

Silently the aircar coasted through the cold darkness, a single soft glow of light that was utterly alone in the deep Magrathean night. It sped swiftly. Arthur's companion seemed sunk in his own thoughts, and when Arthur tried on a couple of occasions to engage him in conversation again he would simply reply by asking if he was comfortable enough, and then left it at that.

Arthur tried to gauge the speed at which they were traveling, but the blackness outside was absolute and he was denied any reference points. The sense of motion was so soft and slight he could almost believe they were hardly moving at all.

Then a tiny glow of light appeared in the far distance and within seconds had grown so much in size that Arthur realized it was traveling toward them at a colossal speed, and he tried to make out what sort of craft it might be. He peered at it, but was unable to discern any clear shape, and suddenly gasped in alarm as the aircar dipped sharply and headed downward in what seemed certain to be a collision course. Their relative velocity seemed unbelievable, and Arthur had hardly time to draw breath before it was all over. The next thing he was aware of was an insane silver blur that seemed to surround him. He twisted his head sharply round and saw a small black point dwindling rapidly in the distance behind them, and it took him several seconds to realize what had happened.

They had plunged into a tunnel in the ground. The colossal speed had been their own, relative to the glow of light which was a stationary hole in the ground, the mouth of the tunnel. The insane blur of silver was the circular wall of the tunnel down which they were shooting, apparently at several hundred miles an hour.

He closed his eyes in terror.

After a length of time which he made no attempt to judge, he sensed a slight subsidence in their speed and some while later became aware that they were gradually gliding to a gentle halt.

He opened his eyes again. They were still in the silver tunnel, threading and weaving their way through what appeared to be a crisscross warren of converging tunnels. When they finally stopped it was in a small chamber of curved steel. Several tunnels also had their termini here, and at the farther end of the chamber Arthur could see a large circle of dim irritating light. It was irritating because it played tricks with the eyes, it was impossible to focus on it properly or tell how near or far it was. Arthur guessed (quite wrongly) that it might be ultraviolet.

Slartibartfast turned and regarded Arthur with his solemn old eyes.

"Earthman," he said, "we are now deep in the heart of Magrathea."

"How did you know I was an Earthman?" demanded Arthur.

"These things will become clear to you," said the old man gently, "at least," he added with slight doubt in his voice, "clearer than they are at the moment."

He continued: "I should warn you that the chamber we are about to pass into does not literally exist within our planet. It is a little too ... large. We are about to pass through a gateway into a vast tract of hyperspace. It may disturb you."

Arthur made nervous noises.

Slartibartfast touched a button and added, not entirely reassuringly, "It scares the willies out of me. Hold tight."

The car shot forward straight into the circle of light, and suddenly Arthur had a fairly clear idea of what infinity looked like.

***

It wasn't infinity in fact. Infinity itself looks flat and uninteresting. Looking up into the night sky is looking into infinity -- distance is incomprehensible and therefore meaningless. The chamber into which the aircar emerged was anything but infinite, it was just very very very big, so big that it gave the impression of infinity far better than infinity itself.

Arthur's senses bobbed and spun as, traveling at the immense speed he knew the aircar attained, they climbed slowly through the open air, leaving the gateway through which they had passed an invisible pinprick in the shimmering wall behind them.

The wall.

The wall defied the imagination -- seduced it and defeated it. The wall was so paralyzingly vast and sheer that its top, bottom and sides passed away beyond the reach of sight. The mere shock of vertigo could kill a man.

The wall appeared perfectly flat. It would take the finest laser-measuring equipment to detect that as it climbed, apparently to infinity, as it dropped dizzily away, as it planed out to either side, it also curved. It met itself again thirteen light seconds away. In other words the wall formed the inside of a hollow sphere, a sphere over three million miles across and flooded with unimaginable light.

"Welcome," said Slartibartfast as the tiny speck that was the aircar, traveling now at three times the speed of sound, crept imperceptibly forward into the mind-boggling space, "welcome," he said, "to our factory floor."

Arthur stared about him in a kind of wonderful horror. Ranged away before them, at distances he could neither judge nor even guess at, were a series of curious suspensions, delicate traceries of metal and light hung about shadowy spherical shapes that hung in the space.

"This," said Slartibartfast, "is where we make most of our planets, you see."

"You mean," said Arthur, trying to form the words, "you mean you're starting it all up again now?"

"No no, good heavens, no," exclaimed the old man, "no, the Galaxy isn't nearly rich enough to support us yet. No, we've been awakened to perform just one extraordinary commission for very ... special clients from another dimension. It may interest you ... there in the distance in front of us."

Arthur followed the old man's finger till he was able to pick out the floating structure he was pointing out. It was indeed the only one of the many structures that betrayed any sign of activity about it, though this was more a subliminal impression than anything one could put one's finger on.

At that moment, however, a flash of light arced through the structure and revealed in stark relief the patterns that were formed on the dark sphere within. Patterns that Arthur knew, rough blobby shapes that were as familiar to him as the shapes of words, part of the furniture of his mind. For a few seconds he sat in stunned silence as the images rushed around his mind and tried to find somewhere to settle down and make sense.

Part of his brain told him that he knew perfectly well what he was looking at and what the shapes represented while another quite sensibly refused to countenance the idea and abdicated responsibility for any further thinking in that direction.

The flash came again, and this time there could be no doubt.

"The Earth ..." whispered Arthur.

"Well, the Earth Mark Two in fact," said Slartibartfast cheerfully. "We're making a copy from our original blueprints."

There was a pause.

"Are you trying to tell me," said Arthur, slowly and with control, "that you originally ... made the Earth?"

"Oh yes," said Slartibartfast. "Did you ever go to a place ... I think it was called Norway?"

"No," said Arthur, "no, I didn't."

"Pity," said Slartibartfast, "that was one of mine. Won an award, you know. Lovely crinkly edges. I was most upset to hear of its destruction."

"You were upset!"

"Yes. Five minutes later and it wouldn't have mattered so much. It was a quite shocking cock-up."

"Huh?" said Arthur.

"The mice were furious."

"The mice were furious?"

"Oh yes," said the old man mildly.

"Yes, well, so I expect were the dogs and cats and duckbilled platypuses, but ..."

"Ah, but they hadn't paid for it, you see, had they?"

"Look," said Arthur, "would it save you a lot of time if 1 just gave up and went mad now?"

For a while the aircar flew on in awkward silence. Then the old man tried patiently to explain.

"Earthman, the planet you lived on was commissioned, paid for, and run by mice. It was destroyed five minutes before the completion of the purpose for which it was built, and we've got to build another one."

Only one word was registering with Arthur.

"Mice?" he said.

"Indeed, Earthman."

"Look, sorry, are we talking about the little white furry things with the cheese fixation and women standing on tables screaming in early sixties sitcoms?"

Slartibartfast coughed politely.

"Earthman," he said, "it is sometimes hard to follow your mode of speech. Remember I have been asleep inside this planet of Magrathea for five million years and know little of these early sixties sitcoms of which you speak. These creatures you call mice, you see, they are not quite as they appear. They are merely the protrusion into our dimension of vastly hyperintelligent pandimensional beings. The whole business with the cheese and the squeaking is just a front."

The old man paused, and with a sympathetic frown continued. "They've been experimenting on you, I'm afraid."

Arthur thought about this for a second, and then his face cleared.

"Ah no," he said, "I see the source of the misunderstanding now. No, look, you see what happened was that we used to do experiments on them. They were often used in behavioral research, Pavlov and all that sort of stuff. So what happened was that the mice would be set all sorts of tests, learning to ring bells, run round mazes and things so that the whole nature of the learning process could be examined. From our observations of their behavior we were able to learn all sorts of things about our own ..."

Arthur's voice trailed off.

"Such subtlety ..." said Slartibartfast, "one has to admire it."

"What?" said Arthur.

"How better to disguise their real natures, and how better to guide your thinking. Suddenly running down a maze the wrong way, eating the wrong bit of cheese, unexpectedly dropping dead of myxomatosis. If it's finely calculated the cumulative effect is enormous."

He paused for effect.

"You see, Earthman, they really are particularly clever hyperintelligent pandimensional beings. Your planet and people have formed the matrix of an organic computer running a ten-million-year research program ... Let me tell you the whole story. It'll take a little time."

"Time," said Arthur weakly, "is not currently one of my problems."
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Re: THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, by Douglas Adams

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2015 9:25 pm

Chapter 25

There are of course many problems connected with life, of which some of the most popular are Why are people born? Why do they die? Why do they want to spend so much of the intervening time wearing digital watches?

Many many millions of years ago a race of hyperintelligent pandimensional beings (whose physical manifestation in their own pandimensional universe is not dissimilar to our own) got so fed up with the constant bickering about the meaning of life which used to interrupt their favorite pastime of Brockian Ultra Cricket (a curious game which involved suddenly hitting people for no readily apparent reason and then running away) that they decided to sit down and solve their problems once and for all. And to this end they built themselves a stupendous super computer which was so amazingly intelligent that even before its data banks had been connected up it had started from I think therefore I am and got as far as deducing the existence of rice pudding and income tax before anyone managed to turn it off.

It was the size of a small city.

Its main console was installed in a specially designed executive office, mounted on an enormous executive desk of finest ultramahogany topped with rich ultrared leather. The dark carpeting was discreetly sumptuous, exotic pot plants and tastefully engraved prints of the principal computer programmers and their families were deployed liberally about the room, and stately windows looked out upon a tree- lined public square.

On the day of the Great On Turning two soberly dressed programmers with briefcases arrived and were shown discreetly into the office. They were aware that this day they would represent their entire race in its greatest moment, but they conducted themselves calmly and quietly as they seated themselves deferentially before the desk, opened their briefcases and took out their leather-bound notebooks.

Their names were Lunkwill and Fook. For a few moments they sat in respectful silence, then, after exchanging a quiet glance with Fook, Lunkwill leaned forward and touched a small black panel.

The subtlest 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 designed 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 of every single dust particle throughout a five-week Dangrabad Beta sand blizzard?"

"A five-week sand blizzard?" said DeepThought 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."

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 Twelve, 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 Mega-Donkey -- but only I could persuade it to go for a walk afterward."

"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!"

Fook was losing patience. He pushed his notebook aside and muttered, "I think this is getting needlessly messianic."

"You know nothing of future time," pronounced Deep Thought, "and yet in my teeming circuitry I can navigate the infinite delta streams of future probability and see that there must one day come a computer whose merest operational parameters I am not worthy to calculate, but which it will be my fate eventually to design."

Fook sighed heavily and glanced across to Lunkwill.

"Can we get on and ask the question?" he said.

Lunkwill motioned him to wait.

"What computer is this of which you speak?" he asked.

"I will speak of it no further in this present time," said Deep Thought. "Now. Ask what else of me you will that I may function. Speak."

They shrugged at each other. Fook composed himself.

"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.

"A simple answer?" added Lunkwill.

"Yes," said Deep Thought. "Life, the Universe, and Everything. There is an answer. But," he added, "I'll have to think about it."

A sudden commotion destroyed the moment: the door flew open and two angry men wearing the coarse faded-blue robes and belts of the Cruxwan University burst into the room, thrusting aside the ineffectual flunkie who tried to bar their way.

"We demand admission!" shouted the younger of the two men elbowing a pretty young secretary in the throat.

"Come on," shouted the older one, "you can't keep us out!" He pushed a junior programmer back through the door.

"We demand that you can't keep us out!" bawled the younger one, though he was now firmly inside the room and no further attempts were being made to stop him.

"Who are you?" said Lunkwill, rising angrily from his seat. "What do you want?"

"I am Majikthise!" announced the older one.

"And I demand that I am Vroomfondel!" shouted the younger one. Majikthise turned on Vroomfondel. "It's all right," he explained angrily, "you don't need to demand that."

"All right!" bawled Vroomfondel, banging on a nearby desk. "I am Vroomfondel, and that is not a demand, that is a solid fact! What we demand is solid facts!"

"No, we don't!" exclaimed Majikthise in irritation. "That is precisely what we don't demand!"

Scarcely pausing for breath, Vroomfondel shouted, "We don't demand solid facts! What we demand is a total absence of solid facts. I demand that I may or may not be Vroomfondel!"

"But who the devil are you?" exclaimed an outraged Fook.

"We," said Majikthise, "are Philosophers."

"Though we may not be," said Vroomfondel, waving a warning finger at the programmers.

"Yes, we are," insisted Majikthise. "We are quite definitely here as representatives of the Amalgamated Union of Philosophers, Sages, Luminaries and Other Thinking Persons, and we want this machine off, and we want it off now!"

"What's the problem?" said Lunkwill.

"I'll tell you what the problem is, mate," said Majikthise, "demarcation, that's the problem!"

"We demand," yelled Vroomfondel, "that demarcation may or may not be the problem!"

"You just let the machines get on with the adding up," warned Majikthise, "and we'll take care of the eternal verities, thank you very much. You want to check your legal position, you do, mate. Under law the Quest for Ultimate Truth is quite clearly the inalienable prerogative of your working thinkers. Any bloody machine goes and actually finds it and we're straight out of a job, aren't we? I mean, what's the use of our sitting up half the night arguing that there may or may not he a God if this machine only goes and gives you his bleeding phone number the next morning?"

"That's right," shouted Vroomfondel, "we demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!"

Suddenly a stentorian voice boomed across the room.

"Might I make an observation at this point?" inquired Deep Thought.

"We'll go on strike!" yelled Vroomfondel.

"That's right!" agreed Majikthise. "You'll have a national Philosophers' strike on your hands!"

The hum level in the room suddenly increased as several ancillary bass driver units, mounted in sedately carved and varnished cabinet speakers around the room, cut in to give Deep Thought's voice a little more power.

"All I wanted to say," bellowed the computer, "is that my circuits are now irrevocably committed to calculating the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything." He paused and satisfied himself that he now had everyone's attention, before continuing more quietly. "But the program will take me a little while to run."

Fook glanced impatiently at his watch.

"How long?" he said.

"Seven and 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? And it occurs to me that running a program like this is bound to create an enormous amount of popular publicity for the whole area of philosophy in general. Everyone's going to have their own theories about what answer I'm eventually going to come up with, and who better to capitalize on that media market than you yourselves? So long as you can keep disagreeing with each other violently enough and maligning each other in the popular press, and so long as you have clever agents, you can keep yourselves on the gravy train for life. How does that sound?"

The two philosophers gaped at him.

"Bloody hell," said Majikthise, "now that is what I call thinking. Here, Vroomfondel, why do we never think of things like that?"

"Dunno," said Vroomfondel in an awed whisper; "think our brains must be too highly trained, Majikthise."

So saying, they turned on their heels and walked out of the door and into a life-style beyond their wildest dreams.
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Re: THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, by Douglas Adams

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2015 9:25 pm

Chapter 26

Yes, very salutary," said Arthur, after Slartibartfast had related the salient points of this story to him, "but I don't understand what all this has got to do with the Earth and mice and things."

"That is but the first half of the story, Earthman," said the old man. "If you would care to discover what happened seven and a half million years later, on the great day of the Answer, allow me to invite you to my study where you can experience the events yourself on our Sens-O-Tape records. That is, unless you would care to take a quick stroll on the surface of New Earth. It's only half completed, I'm afraid -- we haven't even finished burying the artificial dinosaur skeletons in the crust yet, then we have the Tertiary and Quaternary Periods of the Cenozoic Era to lay down, and ..."

"No, thank you," said Arthur, "it wouldn't be quite the same."

"No," said Slartibartfast, "it won't be," and he turned the aircar round and headed back toward the mind-numbing wall.
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Re: THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, by Douglas Adams

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2015 9:25 pm

Chapter 27

Slartibartfast's study was a total mess, like the results of an explosion in a public library. The old man frowned as they stepped in.

"Terribly unfortunate," he said, "a diode blew in one of the life-support computers. When we tried to revive our cleaning staff we discovered they'd been dead for nearly thirty thousand years. Who's going to clear away the bodies, that's what I want to know. Look, why don't you sit yourself down over there and let me plug you in?"

He gestured Arthur toward a chair which looked as if it had been made out of the rib cage of a stegosaurus.

"It was made out of the rib cage of a stegosaurus," explained the old man as he pottered about fishing bits of wire out from under tottering piles of paper and drawing instruments. "Here," he said, "hold these," and passed a couple of stripped wire ends to Arthur.

The instant he took hold of them a bird flew straight through him.

He was suspended in midair and totally invisible to himself. Beneath him was a pretty tree-lined city square, and all around it as far as the eye could see were white concrete buildings of airy spacious design but somewhat the worse for wear -- many were cracked and stained with rain. Today, however, the sun was shining, a fresh breeze danced lightly through the trees, and the odd sensation that all the buildings were quietly humming was probably caused by the fact that the square and all the streets around it were thronged with cheerful excited people. Somewhere a band was playing, brightly colored flags were fluttering in the breeze and the spirit of carnival was in the air.

Arthur felt extraordinarily lonely stuck up in the air above it all without so much as a body to his name, but before he had time to reflect on this a voice rang out across the square and called for everyone's attention.

A man standing on a brightly dressed dais before the building which clearly dominated the square was addressing the crowd over a tannoy.

"O people who wait in the shadow of Deep Thought!" he cried out. "Honored Descendants of Vroomfondel and Majikthise, the Greatest and Most Truly Interesting Pundits the Universe has ever known, the Time of Waiting is over!"

Wild cheers broke out among the crowd. Flags, streamers and wolf whistles sailed through the air. The narrower streets looked rather like centipedes rolled over on their backs and frantically waving their legs in the air.

"Seven and a half million years our race has waited for this Great and Hopefully Enlightening Day!" cried the cheerleader. "The Day of the Answer! "

Hurrahs burst from the ecstatic crowd.

"Never again," cried the man, "never again will we wake up in the morning and think Who am I? What is my purpose in life? Does it really, cosmically speaking, matter if I don't get up and go to work? For today we will finally learn once and for all the plain and simple answer to all these nagging little problems of Life, the Universe and Everything!"

As the crowd erupted once again, Arthur found himself gliding through the air and down toward one of the large stately windows on the first floor of the building behind the dais from which the speaker was addressing the crowd.

He experienced a moment's panic as he sailed straight toward the window, which passed when a second or so later he found he had gone right through the solid glass without apparently touching it.

No one in the room remarked on his peculiar arrival, which is hardly surprising as he wasn't there. He began to realize that the whole experience was merely a recorded projection which knocked six-track seventy- millimeter into a cocked hat.

The room was much as Slartibartfast had described it. In seven and a half million years it had been well looked after and cleaned regularly every century or so. The ultramahogany desk was worn at the edges, the carpet a little faded now, but the large computer terminal sat in sparkling glory on the desk's leather top, as bright as if it had been constructed yesterday.

Two severely dressed men sat respectfully before the terminal and waited.

"The time is nearly upon us," said one, and Arthur was surprised to see a word suddenly materialize in thin air just by the man's neck. The word was LOONQUAWL, and it flashed a couple of times and then disappeared again. Before Arthur was able to assimilate this the other man spoke and the word PHOUCHG appeared by his neck.

"Seventy-five thousand generations ago, our ancestors set this program in motion," the second man said, "and in all that time we will be the first to hear the computer speak."

"An awesome prospect, Phouchg," agreed the first man, and Arthur suddenly realized he was watching a recording with subtitles.

"We are the ones who will hear," said Phouchg, "the answer to the great question of Life ...! "

"The Universe ...!" said Loonquawl.

"And Everything ...!"

"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?"

"Yes."

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 Loonquawl.

"I am."

"Now?"

"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.

"Yes! Now ..."

"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.

"Tell us!"

"All right," said Deep Thought. "The Answer to the Great Question ..."

"Yes ...!"

"Of Life, the Universe and Everything ..." said Deep Thought.

"Yes ...!"

"Is ..." said Deep Thought, and paused.

"Yes ...!"

"Is ..."

"Yes ...!!! ...?"

"Forty-two," said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.
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Re: THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, by Douglas Adams

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2015 9:26 pm

Chapter 28

It was a long time before anyone spoke.

Out of the corner of his eye Phouchg could see the sea of tense expectant faces down in the square outside.

"We're going to get lynched, aren't we?" he whispered.

"It was a tough assignment," said Deep Thought mildly.

"Forty-two!" yelled Loonquawl. "Is that all you've got to show for seven and a half million years' work?"

"I checked it very thoroughly," said the computer, "and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you've never actually known what the question is."

"But it was the Great Question! The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything," howled Loonquawl.

"Yes," said Deep Thought with the air of one who suffers fools gladly, "but what actually is it?"

A slow stupefied silence crept over the men as they stared at the computer and then at each other.

"Well, you know, it's just Everything ... everything ..." offered Phouchg weakly.

"Exactly!" said Deep Thought. "So once you do know what the question actually is, you'll know what the answer means."

"Oh, terrific," muttered Phouchg, flinging aside his notebook and wiping away a tiny tear.

"Look, all right, all right," said Loonquawl, "can you just please tell us the question?"

"The Ultimate Question?"

"Yes!"

"Of Life, the Universe and Everything?"

"Yes!"

Deep Thought pondered for a moment.

"Tricky," he said.

"But can you do it?" cried Loonquawl.

Deep Thought pondered this for another long moment.

Finally: "No," he said firmly.

Both men collapsed onto their chairs in despair.

"But I'll tell you who can," said Deep Thought.

They both looked up sharply.

"Who? Tell us!"

Suddenly Arthur began to feel his apparently nonexistent scalp begin to crawl as he found himself moving slowly but inexorably forward toward the console, but it was only a dramatic room on the pan of whoever had made the recording, he assumed.

"I speak of none but the computer that is to come after me," intoned Deep Thought, his voice regaining its accustomed declamatory tones. " A computer whose merest operational parameters I am not worthy to calculate -- and yet I will design it for you. A computer that can calculate the Question to the Ultimate Answer, a computer of such infinite and subtle complexity that organic life itself shall form part of its operational matrix. And you yourselves shall take on new forms and go down into the computer to navigate its ten-million-year program! Yes! I shall design this computer for you. And I shall name it also unto you. And it shall be called ... the Earth."

Phouchg gaped at Deep Thought.

"What a dull name," he said, and great incisions appeared down the length of his body. Loonquawl too suddenly sustained horrific gashes from nowhere. The Computer console blotched and cracked, the walls flickered and crumbled and the room crashed upward into its own ceiling ...

***

Slartibartfast was standing in front of Arthur holding the two wires. "End of the tape," he explained.
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