Young Zaphod Plays It Safe is a Hitchiker's Guide short story written by Douglas Adams for The Utterly Utterly Merry Comic Relief Christmas Book of 1986. It has recently been reprinted in US versions of The Hitchiker's Guide Omnibus, albeit in a slightly altered form. Copyright prevents me from noding it here, but search for the title on Google and you'll find a million transcripts.

The book tells of a young Zaphod Beeblebrox, post-extra head, pre-extra arm, running a salvage starship and taking a contract from the Safety and Civil Reassurance Administration to investigate the crashing of a 100 per cent uncrashable spacecraft with a dubious cargo which, Zaphod is assured, is 100 per cent totally safe.

The story is in the style of the first three books, despite being written after So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish, and is packed with decent abstract descriptions and Zaphod's creative curses ("Santa Zarquana Voostra!"). The story is very obviously allegorical to the way the governments of the 1980's treated nuclear waste and weapons, making it quite a sharp edged read in places. The story also amusingly explains why Earth was demolished in the first place.

Spoiler/Clarification

A lot of people happen across this short story out of the context of the Comic Relief book, and thus wonder what on earth it's all about. This was rectified in the later edition published with the omnibus which added a label on the glass tank with the dangerous prototype android within - "Reagan".

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