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Aug 1st, 2020
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  1.  
  2.  
  3. **The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  4. nothing," said Ford. "I wouldn't trust that computer to speak my weight."
  5.  
  6. "I can do that for you, sure," enthused the computer, punching out more tickertape. "I can even work out you personality problems to ten decimal places if it will help."
  7.  
  8. Trillian interrupted.
  9.  
  10. "Zaphod," she said, "any minute now we will be swinging round to the daylight side of this planet," adding, "whatever it turns out to be."
  11.  
  12. "Hey, what do you mean by that? The planet's where I predicted it would be, isn't it?"
  13.  
  14. "Yes, I know there's a planet there. I'm not arguing with anyone, it's just that I wouldn't know Magrathea from any other lump of cold rock. Dawn's coming up if you want it."
  15.  
  16. "OK, OK," muttered Zaphod, "let's at least give our eyes a good time. Computer!"
  17.  
  18. "Hi there! What can I . . ."
  19.  
  20. "Just shut up and give us a view of the planet again."
  21.  
  22. A dark featureless mass once more filled the screens--the planet rolling away beneath them.
  23.  
  24. They watched for a moment in silence, but Zaphod was fidgety with excitement.
  25.  
  26. "We are now traversing the night side . . ." he said in a hushed voice. The planet rolled on.
  27.  
  28. "The surface of the planet is now three hundred miles beneath us . . ." he continued. He was trying to restore a sense of occasion to what he felt should have been a great moment. Magrathea! He was piqued by Ford's sceptical reaction. Magrathea!
  29.  
  30. "In a few seconds," he continued, "we should see . . . there!"
  31.  
  32. The moment carried itself. Even the most seasoned star tramp can't help but shiver at the spectacular drama of a sunrise seen from space, but a binary sunrise is one of the marvels of the Galaxy.
  33.  
  34. Out of the utter blackness stabbed a sudden point of blinding light. It crept up by slight degrees and spread sideways in a thin crescent blade, and within seconds two suns were visible, furnaces of light, searing the black edge of the horizon with white fire. Fierce shafts of colour streaked through the thin atmosphere beneath them.
  35.  
  36. "The fires of dawn . . . !" breathed Zaphod. "The twin suns of Soulianis and Rahm . . . !"
  37.  
  38. "Or whatever," said Ford quietly.
  39.  
  40. "Soulianis and Rahm!" insisted Zaphod.**
  41.  
  42.  
  43. Ford looked at him. "What?" he asked.
  44.  
  45. "You're going to say 'Rahmat' or something like that," snapped Zaphod indignantly. "It's the name of the planet.
  46. You've never heard it before."
  47.  
  48. "Well, I haven't," said Ford. "But then I don't remember ever hearing anything about it either."
  49.  
  50. "Oh, come off it!" snapped Zaphod. "That's just silly! We're talking about a planet here!
  51. A real place, not some kind of fiction!"
  52.  
  53. "Come on, Zaphod," said Ford. "Let's get on with it.
  54. You're the one who's so excited about this place. Let's see it then."
  55.  
  56. Zaphod looked at him with a strange expression in his eyes, and then relaxed.
  57.  
  58. "Yeah," he said, "let's.
  59. OK, computer!"
  60.  
  61. "Hi there! Still here!" it beamed.
  62.  
  63. "Give us a view of the planet's surface.
  64. Maximum magnification, like before."
  65.  
  66. The computer responded instantly, and the surface of the planet unrolled beneath them at staggering speed. It was a wild and beautiful sight, and for a while they all watched in fascination.
  67.  
  68. "Hey," said Trillian suddenly, "what's that?
  69. Just coming into range."
  70.  
  71. They all peered forward and saw a long thin line of black that stretched across the surface of the planet, as though someone had taken a piece of black velvet and drawn a thin scratch all the way round the planet's equator.
  72.  
  73. "
  74. Is that it?" asked Zaphod, "is that the Edge of the Universe?"
  75.  
  76. "Can't tell from here," said Ford. "It might just be a scratch."
  77.  
  78. "No," said Trillian, "look!
  79. There's a thin line across the planet, but either side of it the surface is different. The one side is darker, and the other brighter."
  80.  
  81. "It looks like a scratch to me," said Zaphod.
  82.  
  83. "But what's it doing there?
  84. It's so straight, and so thin. It can't be a natural formation."
  85.  
  86. "We're moving into position right now," said Zaphod, "we'll see soon enough.
  87. Hey, computer!"
  88.  
  89. "Yes!" it chirped at him.
  90.  
  91. "What do you make of that black line around the planet?
  92. Is that the Edge of the Universe?"
  93.  
  94. "No, that's just an unusually dark band of cloud. The edge of the Universe is much further round the other side."
  95.  
  96. They peered out at the line in silence.
  97.  
  98. "It looks so solid," said Ford. "
  99. Could we land there?"
  100.  
  101. "I doubt it," said Zaphod. "If that's a cloud, it'll be a bit odd sitting on top of a cloud in a small ship.
  102. It might just sink right through. Let's take a look at the other side of the planet first."
  103.  
  104. The computer made a few adjustments and then they were flying past the planet, looking for the other edge.
  105.  
  106. "There it is!
  107. There it is!
  108. Hey, there it is!
  109. '' whooped Zaphod, pointing to where they could just see the thin black line around the planet on the far side.
  110.  
  111. "OK," said Ford, "so we know where it is. Now let's land and see if we can find out what it's all about."
  112.  
  113.  
  114. "No, don't you want to find out more about the line?" asked Zaphod. "I mean it's the Edge of the Universe, for pete's sake!"
  115.  
  116. "We can come back," said Ford.
  117.  
  118.  
  119. "Computer!" said Zaphod, "put us into a orbit around the planet."
  120.  
  121. "OK," said the computer in a fairly bored voice, and the ship started to move into an orbit around the planet.
  122.  
  123. "Zaphod, old jan..." began Ford.
  124.  
  125.  
  126. "Shut up!" Zaphod interrupted him angrily, "I'm trying to think!" After a few seconds he smiled and went on.
  127. "Hey, did you guys ever watch the TV show 'Santa and the Ice Dragons'?"
  128.  
  129. "No," said Ford and Trillian.
  130.  
  131. "Oh you should have seen it, it was great," enthused Zaphod.
  132. "This guy played Santa Claus and he had to fight ice dragons. They looked exactly like ice dragons, except they were really made of dry ice. That's what gave it the extra kick. Anyway, he always said this one line when he was fighting them. It went like this..."
  133.  
  134.  
  135. Zaphod paused for effect, and then shouted: "Dragons are nothing compared to the might of Santa Claus!" He laughed happily.
  136.  
  137.  
  138. "What's that got to do with anything?" asked Ford.
  139.  
  140.  
  141. "We're in a flying saucer fighting clouds, and I just thought that that was a cool line. Dragons are nothing compared to the might of Santa Claus."
  142.  
  143. "Are you suggesting we call them 'Ice Clouds' then?" asked Ford.
  144.  
  145.  
  146. "No, I'm suggesting we use the line to break the ice with them. Hey, Computer!"
  147.  
  148. "Yes?" it said, sounding mildly interested.
  149.  
  150. "Do you have an audio-visual system I could use to communicate with the Ice Dragons?
  151. I've got an idea that will be of great benefit to all life in this galaxy!"
  152.  
  153. "There's a universal audio-visual port in the room you're in now."
  154.  
  155. "That would be your bedroom," said Ford.
  156.  
  157. "
  158. Oh well," said Zaphod, "I guess we all sleep in here sometimes."
  159.  
  160. He walked over to the corner of the room and pulled back a curtain. Behind it was a small console with a flashing light.
  161.  
  162. "Hello! I am the Galaxy's greatest computer!
  163. Please ask me anything!" it said in a bright tone.
  164.  
  165. "Hey! Shut up! We're trying to communicate with some ice dragons!" shouted Zaphod, then he turned to the others, "I guess I'll have to do it myself.
  166. You guys go and eat or something, I'll try and work something out."
  167.  
  168. "OK," said Ford, "but don't take too long. If the computer's on, he'll probably start trying to make a speech pretty soon."
  169.  
  170. "
  171. Yeah, yeah," said Zaphod, "I'll hurry."
  172.  
  173. Trillian and Ford walked out, leaving Zaphod alone. He thought for a while, and then began to speak into the console.
  174.  
  175. "Hey! Dragons! Hey!
  176. I know you can hear me. It's me, Zaphod Beeblebrox. I just want to say that I am your friend. The Galaxy's your home too, you know, and you should fight for it. Let's fight the bad guys together! Hey!
  177. I'll bring the beer!
  178. "
  179.  
  180. Nothing seemed to be happening inside the cloud. Zaphod waited patiently, rocking from foot to foot.
  181.  
  182. "I brought the beer!" he shouted eventually. Nothing happened. Zaphod started to feel a little despondent.
  183.  
  184. "
  185. Oh come on, this is the easiest plan ever. It's a simple matter of buying them...
  186. Hey! I've got beer!" he shouted. Still nothing happened.
  187.  
  188. "OK, OK," he said to himself, "just gotta think... what would people do?..."
  189.  
  190. He stood still and quiet for a moment, then his face cleared.
  191.  
  192. "That's it!
  193. I'll go get some girls, and get them to dance for them!"
  194.  
  195. He ran out of the room, and headed towards the "Sweet Dream" rooms. He stopped briefly at a door with a sign saying "Scenic View" and looked through the windows.
  196.  
  197. "
  198. Hey, the dragons have moved!" he said to himself, before carrying on to his destination.
  199.  
  200.  
  201. Five girls were in the "Sweet Dreams" room. They had been put to sleep, but not yet awakened, and they looked like an advertisement for the Galactic Tourist Board.
  202. One was lying by the shore of a tropical beach, reading a book. One was swimming in the perfect blue water of a coral reef. Another one was sitting on the edge of the sea, gazing into the eyes of a handsome young man.
  203. Another one was lying on the grass in the shade of a big tree, reading a book. And the last one was lying on the grass, looking up at the clouds and smiling.
  204.  
  205. Zaphod walked into the room, and walked over to the young man and girl.
  206. He shook the young man by the shoulder, and said "Hey! Your dream's over, wake up!"
  207.  
  208. The young man woke up, and looked around in confusion. His gaze rested on Zaphod, and he gave a start of surprise.
  209.  
  210. "Where am I?"
  211. he asked.
  212.  
  213. "You're in the future, baby," said Zaphod
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