Page 52. " final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God "

Here Adams mocks teleological arguments for the existence of God with a teleological argument for God's non-existence.  Adams later said:

Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in - an interesting hole I find myself in - fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!'

Page 52. " It's a Babel fish. "

The Babel fish is a handy literary device that allows Arthur Dent to understand anything said by any creature from an alien race, thus saving time describing translator devices or aliens gabbling incomprehensibly in some bizarre tongue.

Its name recalls the biblical story of the tower of Babel, a myth which offers one explanation for the variety of different languages on Earth.

Babel Fish is a website run by Yahoo that automatically translates text into other languages.

Page 54. " Mostly harmless "

"Mostly harmless", Ford Prefect's single entry describing the planet Earth in the Hitchhiker's Guide after living on the planet for 15 years, also became the title for the fifth book in the 'trilogy'.


Page 55. " Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings "

In the radio series and in early printings of the 1979 novel, Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings was called Paul Neil Milne Johnstone of Redbridge, Essex, a real 'poet' who Douglas Adams knew from his school days. Johnstone objected to being slandered in this way and having his real address broadcast and published so it was subsequently altered.

Page 61. " the first bar of Beethoven's Fifth "


Beethoven's Fifth (Spotify)

Page 65. " just like the sea front at Southend "
GNU Free Documentation LicenseSOUTHEND - Credit: Damian Dukarski

Southend is a seaside resort in Essex, south England, famed for having the longest pleasure pier in the world.


Google Map
Page 68. " an infinite number of monkeys "

A play on an oft-repeated aphorism stating that if one had an infinite number of monkeys hitting keys randomly on an infinite number of typewriters, one of them would eventually type out the entire works of Shakespeare.

It is theoretically possible but in reality highly improbable. However, when you start an infinite improbability drive engine...

Page 73. " sector ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha "

ZZ9 Plural Alpha is the official Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy fanclub.

Page 74. " I think you ought to know I'm feeling very depressed "

Marvin the paranoid android, perhaps the most popular character in the book, was based on Adams' friend Andrew Marshall, a comedy writer best known for writing '2.4 Children'.  According to Adams, he was a gloomy fellow.

As well as becoming a TV and movie star, Marvin released a couple of charting pop singles in the early 80s.  Listen to a clip here.



Marvin was the inspiration behind a suitably morose song called 'Paranoid Android' (Spotify link) by English rock band Radiohead.