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 Universe- Some Information To Help You Live in It
1 AREA: Infinite.
Infinite: Bigger than the biggest thing ever and then some. Much bigger than that in fact, really amazingly immense, a totally stunning size, real "wow, that's big," time. Infinity is just so big that, by comparison, bigness itself looks really titchy. Gigantic multiplied by colossal multiplied by staggeringly huge is the sort of concept we're trying to get across here.
2 IMPORTS: None.
It is impossible to import things into an infinite area, there being no outside to import things from.
3 EXPORTS: None.
4 POPULATION: None.
It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.
5 MONETARY UNITS: None.
In fact there are three freely convertible currencies in the Galaxy, but none of them count. The Altairian Dollar has recently collapsed, the Flainian Pobble Bead is only exchangeable for other Flainian Pobble Beads, and the Triganic Pu has its own very special problems. Its exchange rate of eight Ningis to one Pu is simple enough, but since a Ningi is a triangular rubber coin six thousand eight hundred miles along each side, no one has ever collected enough to own one Pu. Ningis are not negotiable currency, because the Galactibanks refuse to deal in fiddling small change. From this basic premise it is very simple to prove that the Galactibanks are also the product of a deranged imagination.
6 ART: None.
The function of art is to hold the mirror up to nature, and there simply isn't a mirror big enough- see point one.
7 SEX: None.
Well, in fact there is an awful lot of this, largely because of the total lack of money, trade, banks, art or anything else that might keep all the nonexistent people of the Universe occupied.
However, it is not worth embarking on a long discussion of it now because it really is terribly complicated. For further information see Guide Chapters seven, nine, ten, eleven, fourteen, sixteen, seventeen, nineteen, twenty-one to eighty-four inclusive, and in fact most of the rest of the Guide.
URSA MINOR BETA
Ursa Minor Beta is, some say, one of the most appalling places in the known Universe.
Although it is excruciatingly rich, horrifyingly sunny and more full of wonderfully exciting people than a pomegranate is of pips, it can hardly be insignificant that when a recent edition of playbeing magazine headlined an article with the words "When you are tired of Ursa Minor Beta you are tired of life," the suicide rate there quadrupled overnight.
Not that there are any nights on Ursa Minor Beta.
It is a West zone planet which by an inexplicable and somewhat suspicious freak of topography consists almost entirely of subtropical coastline. By an equally suspicious freak of temporal relastatics, it is nearly always Saturday afternoon just before the beach bars close.
No adequate explanation for this has been forthcoming from the dominant life forms on Ursa Minor Beta, who spend most of their time attempting to achieve spiritual enlightenment by running round swimming pools, and inviting Investigation Officials from the Galactic Geo-Temporal Control Board to "have a nice diurnal anomaly."
There is only one city on Ursa Minor Beta, and that is only called a city because the swimming pools are slightly thicker on the ground there than elsewhere.
If you approach Light City by air- and there is no other way of approaching it, no roads, no port facilities- if you don't fly they don't want to see you in Light City- you will see why it has this name. Here the sun shines brightest of all, glittering on the swimming pools, shimmering on the white, palm-lined boulevards, glistening on the healthy bronzed specks moving up and down them, gleaming off the villas, the hazy airpads, the beach bars and so on.
Most particularly it shines on a building, a tall, beautiful building consisting of two thirty-story white towers connected by a bridge halfway up their length.
The building is the home of a book, and was built here on the proceeds of an extraordinary copyright lawsuit fought between the book's editors and a breakfast cereal company.
The book is a guide book, a travel book.
It is one of the most remarkable, certainly the most successful, books ever to come out of the great publishing corporations of Ursa Minor-- more popular than Life begins at Five Hundred and Fifty, better selling than The Big Bang Theory- A Personal View by Eccentrica Gallumbits (the triple-breasted whore of Eroticon Six) and more controversial than Oolon Collupid's latest blockbusting title Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Sex but Have Been Forced to Find Out.
(And in many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, it has long supplanted the great Encyclopedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older more pedestrian work in two important respects. First, it is slightly cheaper, and secondly it has the words DON'T PANIC printed in large friendly letters on its cover.)
It is of course that invaluable companion for all those who want to see the marvels of the known Universe for less than thirty Altairian dollars a day-The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.