The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
(Hitchhiker's Guide Series #1)
Originally published in 1979
massmarket paperback, 215 pages
This cover looks like my original paperback cover
Don't leave Earth without this hilarious international bestseller about the end of the world and the happy-go-lucky days that follow...about the worst Thursday that ever happened and why the Universe is a lot safer if you bring a towel.
This is one hilarious science fiction book that must be read to be appreciated. I have the original Pocket Books paperbacks. As my son Wonder Boy says, "They are the literary equivalent of Monty Python." Re-read for the Summer Lovin' challenge. Very Highly Recommended
“Appropriate time?” hooted Arthur. “Appropriate time? The first I knew about it was when a workman arrived at my home yesterday. I asked him if he’d come to clean the windows and he said no, he’d come to demolish the house. He didn’t tell me straight away of course. Oh no. First he wiped a couple of windows and charged me a fiver. Then he told me.”
“But Mr. Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months.”
“Oh yes, well, as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn’t exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them, had you? I mean, like actually telling anybody or anything.”
“But the plans were on display . . .”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.’” pg. 9-10
By a curious coincidence, “None at all” is exactly how much suspicion the ape-descendant Arthur Dent had that one of his closest friends was not descended from an ape, but was in fact from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse and not from Guildford as he usually claimed.
Arthur Dent had never, ever suspected this.
This friend of his had first arrived on the planet Earth some fifteen Earth years previously, and he had worked hard to blend himself into Earth society—with, it must be said, some success. For instance, he had spent those fifteen years pretending to be an out-of-work actor, which was plausible enough.
He had made one careless blunder though, because he had skimped a bit on his preparatory research. The information he had gathered had led him to choose the name “Ford Prefect” as being nicely inconspicuous.pg. 11
Ford Prefect was desperate that any flying saucer at all would arrive soon because fifteen years was a long time to get stranded anywhere, particularly somewhere as mind-bogglingly dull as the Earth.
Ford wished that a flying saucer would arrive soon because he knew how to flag flying saucers down and get lifts from them. He knew how to see the Marvels of the Universe for less than thirty Altairian dollars a day.
In fact, Ford Prefect was a roving researcher for that wholly remarkable book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. pg. 13
Arthur remained very worried.
“But can we trust him?” he said.
“Myself I’d trust him to the end of the Earth,” said Ford.
“Oh yes,” said Arthur, “and how far’s that?”
“About twelve minutes away,” said Ford, “come on, I need a drink.” pg. 20
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has a few things to say on the subject of towels.
A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Krakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand combat; wrap it around your head to ward off the noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mind bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a brush, but very, very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: nonhitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, washcloth, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet-weather gear, space suit etc.,etc....What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the Galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through and still know where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.
Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in 'Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There's a frood who really knows where his towel is.' pg. 27-28