Inspired by the eponymous radio show, Douglas Adams’s 1979 novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a pioneering work in the realm of comic sci-fi. Endeared to many fans by its charming wit and oddball cast of characters, this book has long been heralded as one of the all-time science fiction greats. In this snappy, lighthearted romp through space, the reader accompanies a rag-tag group of space travelers through their various misadventures, including listening to bad poetry, discovering a long-lost planet, and racking up far too many near-death experiences.
Filled to the brim with humor and hijinks, this is a laugh-out-loud kind of book. But in addition to a laugh, this book has some unconventional life lessons to give you. So read on for 10 pieces of intergalactic wisdom that humans, aliens, and sentient robots alike will want to know.
1. Always listen to your mother
“You know,” said Arthur, “it’s at times like this, when I’m trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space, that I really wish I’d listened to what my mother told me when I was young.”
“Why, what did she tell you?”
“I don’t know, I didn’t listen.”
2. Avoid Vogon poetry at all costs
Outside the door were the clear sounds of marching footsteps.
“The Dentrassi?” whispered Arthur.
“No, those are steel-tipped boots,” said Ford.
There was a sharp ringing rap on the door.
“Then who is it?” said Arthur.
“Well,” said Ford, “if we’re lucky it’s just the Vogons come to throw us into space.”
“And if we’re unlucky?”
“If we’re unlucky,” said Ford grimly, “the captain might be serious in his threat that he’s going to read us some of his poetry first…”
3. Thursdays are tricky
“This must be Thursday,” said Arthur to himself, sinking low over his beer, “I never could get the hang of Thursdays.”
4. Never assume you’re the smartest creature in the room
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.
5. Things can always get worse
“Funny,” he intoned funereally, “how just when you think life can’t possibly get any worse it suddenly does.”
6. relationships take work
“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 axe, 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.
7. Robots are people, too
“Is that robot yours?” he said.
“No,” came a thin metallic voice from the crater, “I’m mine.”
8. Intelligence is subjective
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 — 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.
9. Paranoia is a universal experience
“You know,” said Arthur thoughtfully, “all this explains a lot of things. All through my life I’ve had this strange unaccountable feeling that something was going on in the world, something big, even sinister, and no one would tell me what it was.”
“No,” said the old man, “that’s just perfectly normal paranoia. Everyone in the Universe has that.”
10. Don’t take life advice from depressed robots
“Life,” said Marvin dolefully, “loathe it or ignore it, you can’t like it.”
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