Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is.
I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.
the Paranoid Android
Marvin is part of a new generation of Sirius Cybernetics Corporation robots and computers.
Well, he's a prototype with Genuine People Personalities. Obviously he's one of the greatest mistakes in all the cybernetics history.
In his own words:
I didn't ask to be made: no one consulted me or considered my feelings in the matter.
I don't think it even occurred to them that I might have feelings.
After I was made, I was left in a dark room for six months... and me with this terrible pain in all the diodes down my left side.
I called for succour in my loneliness, but did anyone come? Did they hell. My first and only true friend was a small rat.
One day it crawled into a cavity in my right ankle and died. I have a horrible feeling it's still there...
“Sorry, did I say something wrong?" said Marvin, dragging himself on regardless.
"Pardon me for breathing, which I never do anyway so I don't know why I bother to say it, oh God I'm so depressed.
Here's another one of those self-satisfied doors. Life! Don't talk to me about life.”
He's got a "brain the size of a planet", but he's also paranoid and utterly depressed : "Life, don't talk to me about life...".
"Here I am, brain the size of a planet and they tell me to take you up to the bridge. Call that job satisfaction? 'Cause I dont."
"What are you supposed to do if you are a manically depressed robot? No, don't try to answer that.
I'm fifty thusand times more intelligent than you and even I dont know the answer."
"It gives me a headache just trying to think down to your level."
"Making it up? Why should I want to make anything up? Life's bad enough as it is without wanting to invent anymore of it".
"Episode #1.2" (1981)
Marvin: Sorry, did I say something wrong? Pardon me for breathing which I never do anyway so I don't know why
I bother to say it oh God I'm so depressed.
Marvin: I think you ought to know I'm feeling very depressed.
Marvin: Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and they tell me to take you up to the bridge. Call that job satisfaction? Cause I don't.
Marvin: And then of course I've got this terrible pain in all the diodes down my left side.
Arthur Dent: Really.
Marvin: Oh, yes. I mean, I've asked for them to be replaced, but no-one ever listens.
Marvin: Do you want me to sit in a corner and rust or just fall apart where I'm standing?
Episode #1.3" (1981)
Marvin: It gives me a headache just trying to think down to your level.
Zaphod Beeblebrox: Into the interior of the planet. That is where we have to go.
Down into the very depths of time itself where no man has trod these five million years.
We are not gonna be great. We are not gonna be amazing. We are gonna be amazingly amazing!
Marvin: Sounds awful.
Zaphod Beeblebrox: Can it! Marvin.
Marvin: Life. Loathe it or ignore it. You can't like it.
Slartibartfast: Is that your robot?
Marvin: No. I'm mine!.
Arthur: Well, if you call it a robot. It's more like an electronic sulking machine.
Slartibartfast: Bring it.
Marvin: Bring it. Bring it.
Slartibartfast: On second thoughts, leave it here.
Trillian: What are you supposed to do with a manically depressed robot?
Marvin: You think you've got problems. What are you supposed to do if you are a manically depressed robot?
No, don't even bother answering. I'm 50,000 times more intelligent than you and even I don't know the answer.
Episode #1.5" (1981)
Marvin: The first ten million years were the worst. And the second ten million: they were the worst, too.
The third ten million I didn't enjoy at all. After that, I went into a bit of a decline.
Marvin: "Reverse primary thrust, Marvin." That's what they say to me. "Open airlock number 3, Marvin."
"Marvin, can you pick up that piece of paper?"Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and they ask me to pick up a piece of paper.
Zaphod Beeblebrox: There's a whole new life stretching out in front of you.
Marvin: Oh, not another one.
Marvin: [talking about his long wait for the others] The first ten million years were the worst.
And the second ten million... they were the worst too. The third ten million I didn't enjoy at all.
After that, I went into a bit of a decline.
Episode #1.6 (1981)
Marvin: [talking about the Ultimate Question to the Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything] It's printed in the Earthman's brainwave patterns, but I don't suppose you'd be interested in knowing that.
Arthur Dent: You mean you can see into my mind?
Arthur Dent: Well?
Marvin: It amazes me how you manage to live in anything that small.
Ford Prefect: [discussing the teleporter while their ship is plunging into the sun] Someone will have to stay behind and operate it manually!
Ford Prefect: But that means whoever does wouldn't...
Trillian: [quietly] ... make it.
Zaphod Beeblebrox: [Ford, Trillian, Arthur and Zaphod consider this before all turning to stare at Marvin as Zaphod grins slyly] Hey, Marvin kid. How ya doing?
Marvin: Very badly I suspect.
Marvin was constructed much against his own wishes by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation to prototype human personality artificial intelligence.
“Simple. I got very bored and depressed, so I went and plugged myself in to its external computer feed.
I talked to the computer at great length and explained my view of the Universe to it," said Marvin.
"And what happened?" pressed Ford.
"It committed suicide," said Marvin and stalked off back to the Heart of Gold.
Some other characters
One of the things Ford Prefect had always found hardest to understand about humans was their habit of continually stating and repeating
the very very obvious, as in It's a nice day, or You're very tall, or Oh dear you seem to have fallen down a thirty-foot well, are you alright?
At first Ford had formed a theory to account for this strange behaviour. If human beings don't keep exercising their lips, he thought,
their mouths probably seize up. After a few months' consideration and observation he abandoned this theory in favour of a new one.
If they don't keep on exercising their lips, he thought, their brains start working.
After a while he abandoned this one as well as
being obstructively cynical.
"If I asked you where the hell we were," said Arthur weakly, "would I regret it?"
Ford stood up. "We're safe," he said.
"Oh good," said Arthur.
"We're in a small galley cabin," said Ford, "in one of the spaceships of the Vogon Constructor Fleet."
"Ah," said Arthur, "this is obviously some strange usage of the word safe that I wasn't previously aware of."
"Vogon Constructor Fleets. Here is what to do if you want to get a lift from a Vogon: forget it.
They are one of the most unpleasant races in the Galaxy--not actually evil, but bad-tempered, officious and callous.
They wouldn't even lift a finger to save their own grandmothers from the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal without orders signed in triplicate,
sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public inquiry, queried, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat
for three months and recycled as firelighters.
"The best way to get a drink out of a Vogon is to stick your finger down his throat,
and the best way to irritate him is to feed his grandmother to the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.
"On no account allow a Vogon to read poetry at you." [narator]
I am now a perfectly safe penguin, and my colleague here is rapidly running out of limbs!
"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."
"This is terrific!," Arthur thought to himself, "Nelson's Column has gone, McDonald's have gone,
all that's left is me and the words Mostly harmless. Any second now all that will be left is Mostly harmless.
And yesterday the planet seemed to be going so well."
“I don’t want to die now! I’ve still got a headache! I don’t want to go to heaven with a headache,
I’d be all cross and wouldn’t enjoy it!”
The Babel fish
"The Babel fish is small, yellow, leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the universe.
It feeds on brain wave energy, absorbing all unconscious frequencies and then excreting telepathically a matrix formed from the conscious
frequencies and nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain,
the practical upshot of which is that if you stick one in your ear, you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language:
the speech you hear decodes the brain wave matrix."
It is a universal translator that neatly crosses the language divide between any species.
The book points out that the Babel fish could not possibly have developed naturally,
and therefore it both proves and disproves the existence of God:
Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mindbogglingly useful could evolve purely by chance that some
thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God. The argument goes something like this:
"I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."
"But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance.
It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED."
"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
"Oh, that was easy," says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white, and gets killed on the next zebra crossing.
Most leading theologians claim that this argument is a load of dingo's kidneys.
But this did not stop Oolon Colluphid making a small fortune when he used it as the central
theme for his best selling book, Well That About Wraps It Up for God. Meanwhile the poor Babel fish,
by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different cultures and races,
has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.
Arthur Dent commented only 'Eurgh!' when first inserting the fish into his ear. It enabled him to understand Vogon Poetry - not necessarily a good thing.
"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
I'm concerned over some of the safety procedures on board, sir. There's a
potentially lethal scenario concerning drive plates, sir.
who mis-repaired one of these plates would have to have a brain the size of
a leprechaun's testicle, nevertheless, sir, like German tourists, the stupid
I propose the following new safety procedures, sir.