-->-- '''Zaphod''' (in a rare moment of eloquence)

%% Short stories get double-quotes, not italics.
"Young Zaphod Plays It Safe" is a short ScienceFiction story by Creator/DouglasAdams. Written between the fourth and fifth books of ''Literature/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy'' series but set long before the beginning of the first, it features the character Zaphod Beeblebrox as a young man in charge of the ''Beeblebrox Salvage and Really Wild Stuff Corporation'', conducting an expedition to the bottom of a remote alien ocean for the benefit of a group of shady suits from the Safety and Civil Reassurance Administration. Though they don't say much to Zaphod, preferring to keep the nature of their expedition a secret, it soon becomes clear that the suits are searching for a lost spacecraft, one that crashed into the ocean while holding top-secret and potentially deadly cargo. The story ends with another possible motive behind the demolition of the planet Earth by the Vogons.

Actually a huge AuthorTract and an unsubtle TakeThat aimed at UsefulNotes/RonaldReagan, the story saves itself by being [[RuleOfFunny hilarious]] and full of vintage Adamsian wit.

!! "Young Zaphod Plays It Safe" provides examples of the following tropes:

* ArtificialHuman: What the spacecraft is carrying that makes it so worrisome; turns out that "designer people" tend to be insane, and they don't project the usual warning signals that someone that dangerous would...
* AuthorTract
* BeethovenWasAnAlienSpy: [[spoiler: Ronald Reagan was an insane charismatic artificial life form from outer space.]]
* BuffySpeak: Lampshaded, discussed, or maybe just [[PlayingWithATrope played with]]. "This is barking time, this is major lunch, this is stool approaching critical mass, this is... this is... ''total vocabulary failure!"''
* InsistentTerminology: The two suits accompanying Zaphod describe everything as "very safe".
* NuclearWeaponsTaboo: Played with, as the most horrible weapons ever invented, including nuclear and all kinds of engineered gasses and viruses, are perfectly safe compared to a politician willing to use them.
* PersonAsVerb: Invoked: Zaphod tells the ship to "do as I do"; it thinks for a second, and then [[SelfDeprecation sinks as low as it can go.]]
* UnwittingPawn: Zaphod, to a degree; although he's being used, he has nothing to lose in the matter, and cares little for the outcome of the expedition.
* VomitIndiscretionShot: There are very detailed descriptions of Zaphod and company vomiting inside their Hi-Presh-A Smart Suits, until the author gives up and promises no more of that kind of nastiness.
* YouWannaGetSued: In several versions of ''Literature/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy'', {{the reveal}} in the last paragraph is deleted entirely, making the build-up meaningless. You could say those versions... [[IncrediblyLamePun played it safe.]] ''[[http://www.instantrimshot.com/ Ba-dum-tish!]]'' (To be fair, at least some of these versions feature enough detail that a person familiar with eighties American politics could still probably puzzle out Reagan's identity, but by today's standards that pushes it into ViewersAreGeniuses territory.)