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Volume 2 - The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe

Douglas Adams

  Douglas Adams was born in 1952 and created all the various and contradictory manifestations of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: radio, novels, TV, computer game, stage adaptation, comic book and bath towel.

  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was published thirty years ago on 12 October 1979 and its phenomenal success sent the book straight to number one in the UK bestseller list. In 1984 Douglas Adams became the youngest author to be awarded a Golden Pan. His series has sold over 15 million books in the UK, the US and Australia and was also a bestseller in German, Swedish and many other languages.

  The feature film starring Martin Freeman and Zooey Deschanel with Stephen Fry as the Guide was released in 2005 using much of Douglas’s original script and ideas.

  Douglas lived with his wife and daughter in California, where he died in 2001.


  The Hitchhiker series

  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

  The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

  Life, the Universe and Everything

  So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

  Mostly Harmless

  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: The Original Radio Scripts

  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Radio Scripts: The Tertiary, Quandary and Quintessential Phases

  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Film Tie-in

  The Making of ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’

  The Dirk Gently series

  Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

  The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul

  The Salmon of Doubt

  With John Lloyd

  The Meaning of Liff

  The Deeper Meaning of Liff

  With Mark Carwardine

  Last Chance to See . . .

  By Terry Jones, based on a story/computer game by Douglas Adams

  Starship Titanic

  First published 1980 by Pan Books

  This electronic edition published 2009 by Pan Books

  an imprint of Pan Macmillan Ltd

  Pan Macmillan, 20 New Wharf Rd, London N1 9RR

  Basingstoke and Oxford

  Associated companies throughout the world

  ISBN 978-0-330-51312-8 in Adobe Reader format

  ISBN 978-0-330-51311-1 in Adobe Digital Editions format

  ISBN 978-0-330-51313-5 in Mobipocket format

  Copyright © Serious Productions Ltd 2009

  Foreword copyright © Terry Jones 2009

  The right of Douglas Adams to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

  Every effort has been made to contact copyright holders of material reproduced in this book. If any have been inadvertently overlooked, the publishers will be pleased to make restitution at the earliest opportunity.

  The Macmillan Group has no responsibility for the information provided by any external websites whose address you obtain from this book. The inclusion of external website addresses in this book does not constitute an endorsement by or association with us of such sites or the content, products, advertising or other materials presented on such sites.

  You may not copy, store, distribute, transmit, reproduce or otherwise make available this publication (or any part of it) in any form, or by any means (electronic, digital, optical, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the publisher. Any person who does any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.

  A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

  Visit to read more about all our books and to buy them. You will also find features, author interviews and news of any author events, and you can sign up for e-newsletters so that you’re always first to hear about our new releases.

  To Jane and James

  with many thanks

  To Geoffrey Perkins for achieving the Improbable

  To Paddy Kingsland, Lisa Braun and Alick Hale Munro for helping him

  To Simon Brett for starting the whole thing off

  To the Paul Simon album One Trick Pony which I played incessantly while writing this book

  Five years is far too long

  And with very special thanks to Jacqui Graham for infinite patience, kindness and food in adversity


  by Terry Jones

  I woke up one Sunday morning with a hangover and remembered that I’d bought two tickets for a five-hour silent film (it was the first performance of Abel Gance’s Napoléon).

  My wife also had a hangover and said she couldn’t face it, so I rang Mike Palin and he said he had a hangover and couldn’t face it. So then I rang Douglas Adams and he said he had a hangover and couldn’t face it.

  So I prepared to sit for five hours on my own, watching a film I wasn’t sure I wanted to see.

  However, just as I was opening the front door to leave the house, the phone rang and it was Douglas, who said, ‘I’ve been thinking about it, and it seems such a terrible idea that I think I ought to do it.’

  Douglas wasn’t afraid of ideas even if they seemed like bad ones. Indeed he was totally obsessed with the idea of ideas.

  Nobody, I suspect, reads the Hitchhiker books for their plot. Not many, I would suppose, read them for their characters (apart from Marvin). So why is it that we love these books so much? After all, if a novel doesn’t have great characters or a compelling plot, why bother reading it?

  In The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, there is an interlude in which the Ruler of the Universe talks to his cat about how we know we know anything or how we know what we perceive is what we are actually perceiving or is what is happening, and he concludes by saying, ‘Perhaps I would like a glass of whisky. Yes, that seems more likely.’

  And he pours himself a glass of whisky.

  It’s one of those magical moments when Douglas’s fascination with ideas comes to the fore. And it’s those magical moments that I love in Douglas’s writing. He’s the only novelist I know who can make ideas a pageturner.

  And The Restaurant at the End of the Universe is full of ideas. And humour. That’s the other thing Douglas was so good at: making ideas not only interesting but funny.

  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy opines that every civilization goes through three stages: Survival, Enquiry and Sophistication – the how?, why? and where? stages.

  The Guide says: ‘the first phase is characterized by the question How can we eat? the second by the question Why do we eat? and the third by the question Where shall we have lunch?’

  Then there is the wonderful concept of the A, B and C spaceships, in which all the people in Management, Accountancy, Advertising and Hairdressing are sent off in advance while the creative and productive people stay behind and somehow never make it into space . . . deliberately. When you look nowadays at the BBC or the National Health Service, you get the feeling that we all must have been on the B Ark.

  In fact, The Restaurant is full of slightly prophetic elements. The one that makes me shudder, at the edge of today’s economic disaster, is the section where the settlers from the B Ark have made the leaf into legal tender – so money really does grow on trees. But they now realize that there is too much currency available and so, to remedy the situation in fiscal terms, they decide to burn down all the forests.

  So welcome to Douglas Adams’s Rollercoaster of Ideas.

  Oh, and we had a great day at Abel Gance’
s Napoléon. It wasn’t such a bad idea after all.


  Python and co-author

  of Starship Titanic



  There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

  There is another theory which states that this has already happened.


  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.

  Many races believe that it was created by some sort of god, though the Jatravartid people of Viltvodle VI believe that the entire Universe was in fact sneezed out of the nose of a being called the Great Green Arkleseizure.

  The Jatravartids, who live in perpetual fear of the time they call The Coming of the Great White Handkerchief, are small blue creatures with more than fifty arms each, who are therefore unique in being the only race in history to have invented the aerosol deodorant before the wheel.

  However, the Great Green Arkleseizure Theory is not widely accepted outside Viltvodle VI and so, the Universe being the puzzling place it is, other explanations are constantly being sought.

  For instance, a race of hyperintelligent pan-dimensional beings once built themselves a gigantic supercomputer called Deep Thought to calculate once and for all the Question to the Ultimate Answer of Life, the Universe and Everything.

  For seven and a half million years, Deep Thought computed and calculated, and in the end announced that the answer was in fact Forty-two—and so another, even bigger, computer had to be built to find out what the actual question was.

  And this computer, which was called the Earth, was so large that it was frequently mistaken for a planet—especially by the strange apelike beings who roamed its surface, totally unaware that they were simply part of a gigantic computer program.

  And this is very odd, because without that fairly simple and obvious piece of knowledge, nothing that ever happened on the Earth could possibly make the slightest bit of sense.

  Sadly, however, just before the critical moment of read-out, the Earth was unexpectedly demolished by the Vogons to make way—so they claimed—for a new hyperspace bypass, and so all hope of discovering a meaning for life was lost for ever.

  Or so it would seem.

  Two of these strange, apelike creatures survived.

  Arthur Dent escaped at the very last moment because an old friend of his, Ford Prefect, suddenly turned out to be from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse and not from Guildford as he had hitherto claimed; and, more to the point, he knew how to hitch rides on flying saucers.

  Tricia McMillan—or Trillian—had skipped the planet six months earlier with Zaphod Beeblebrox, the then President of the Galaxy.

  Two survivors.

  They are all that remains of the greatest experiment ever conducted—to find the Ultimate Question and the Ultimate Answer of Life, the Universe and Everything.

  And, less than half a million miles from where their starship is drifting lazily through the inky blackness of space, a Vogon ship is moving slowly toward them.


  Like all Vogon ships it looked as if it had been not so much designed as congealed. The unpleasant yellow lumps and edifices which protruded from it at unsightly angles would have disfigured the looks of most ships, but in this case that was sadly impossible. Uglier things have been spotted in the skies, but not by reliable witnesses.

  In fact to see anything much uglier than a Vogon ship you would have to go inside it and look at a Vogon. If you are wise, however, this is precisely what you will avoid doing because the average Vogon will not think twice before doing something so pointlessly hideous to you that you will wish you had never been born—or (if you are a clearer minded thinker) that the Vogon had never been born.

  In fact, the average Vogon probably wouldn’t even think once. They are simple-minded, thick-willed, slug-brained creatures, and thinking is not really something they are cut out for. Anatomical analysis of the Vogon reveals that its brain was originally a badly deformed, misplaced and dyspeptic liver. The fairest thing you can say about them, then, is that they know what they like, and what they like generally involves hurting people and, wherever possible, getting very angry.

  One thing they don’t like is leaving a job unfinished—particularly this Vogon, and particularly—for various reasons—this job.

  This Vogon was Captain Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council, and he it was who had had the job of demolishing the so-called “planet” Earth.

  He heaved his monumentally vile body round in his ill-fitting, slimy seat and stared at the monitor screen on which the starship Heart of Gold was being systematically scanned.

  It mattered little to him that the Heart of Gold, with its Infinite Improbability Drive, was the most beautiful and revolutionary ship ever built. Aesthetics and technology were closed books to him and, had he had his way, burned and buried books as well.

  It mattered even less to him that Zaphod Beeblebrox was aboard. Zaphod Beeblebrox was now the ex-President of the Galaxy, and though every police force in the Galaxy was currently pursuing both him and this ship he had stolen, the Vogon was not interested.

  He had other fish to fry.

  It has been said that Vogons are not above a little bribery and corruption in the same way that the sea is not above the clouds, and this was certainly true in his case. When he heard the words integrity or moral rectitude he reached for his dictionary, and when he heard the chink of ready money in large quantities he reached for the rule book and threw it away.

  In seeking so implacably the destruction of the Earth and all that therein lay he was moving somewhat above and beyond the call of his professional duty. There was even some doubt as to whether the said bypass was actually going to be built, but the matter had been glossed over.

  He grunted a repellent grunt of satisfaction.

  “Computer,” he croaked, “get me my brain care specialist on the line.”

  Within a few seconds the face of Gag Halfrunt appeared on the screen, smiling the smile of a man who knew he was ten light-years away from the Vogon face he was looking at. Mixed up somewhere in the smile was a glint of irony too. Though the Vogon persistently referred to him as “my private brain care specialist” there was not a lot of brain to take care of, and it was in fact Halfrunt who was employing the Vogon. He was paying him an awful lot of money to do some very dirty work. As one of the Galaxy’s most prominent and successful psychiatrists, he and a consortium of his colleagues were quite prepared to spend an awful lot of money when it seemed that the entire future of psychiatry might be at stake.

  “Well,” he said, “hello my Captain of Vogons Prostetnic, and how are we feeling today?”

  The Vogon Captain told him that in the last few hours he had wiped out nearly half his crew in a disciplinary exercise.

  Halfrunt’s smile did not flicker for an instant.

  “Well,” he said, “I think this is perfectly normal behavior for a Vogon, you know? The natural and healthy channeling of the aggressive instincts into acts of senseless violence.”

  “That,” rumbled the Vogon, “is what you always say.”

  “Well again,” said Halfrunt, “I think that this is perfectly normal behavior for a psychiatrist. Good. We are clearly both very well adjusted in our mental attitudes today. Now tell me, what news of the mission?”

  “We have located the ship.”

  “Wonderful,” said Halfrunt, “wonderful! And the occupants?”

  “The Earthman is there.”

  “Excellent! And …?”

  “A female from the same planet. They are the last.”

  “Good, good,” beamed Halfrunt. “Who else?”

The man Prefect.”


  “And Zaphod Beeblebrox.”

  For an instant Halfrunt’s smile flickered.

  “Ah, yes,” he said, “I had been expecting this. It is most regrettable.”

  “A personal friend?” inquired the Vogon, who had heard the expression somewhere once and decided to try it out.

  “Ah, no,” said Halfrunt, “in my profession you know, we do not make personal friends.”

  “Ah,” grunted the Vogon, “professional detachment.”

  “No,” said Halfrunt cheerfully, “we just don’t have the knack.”

  He paused. His mouth continued to smile, but his eyes frowned slightly.

  “But Beeblebrox, you know,” he said, “he is one of my most profitable clients. He has personality problems beyond the dreams of analysts.”

  He toyed with this thought a little before reluctantly dismissing it.

  “Still,” he said, “you are ready for your task?”


  “Good. Destroy the ship immediately.”

  “What about Beeblebrox?”

  “Well,” said Halfrunt brightly, “Zaphod’s just this guy, you know?”

  He vanished from the screen.

  The Vogon Captain pressed a communicator button which connected him with the remains of his crew.

  “Attack,” he said.

  At that precise moment Zaphod Beeblebrox was in his cabin swearing very loudly. Two hours ago, he had said that they would go for a quick bite at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, whereupon he had had a blazing row with the ship’s computer and stormed off to his cabin shouting that he would work out the Improbability factors with a pencil.

  The Heart of Gold’s Improbability Drive made it the most powerful and unpredictable ship in existence. There was nothing it couldn’t do, provided you knew exactly how improbable it was that the thing you wanted it to do would even happen.