Major Spoilers all through!
I feel I might need to point something out... I got this document off of the net (or maybe a post), so I'm not the original author. I've just made it available... I have no idea who the original author is, so if that person would like to drop me a line, I'll put the credit on it.
The differences between the US and UK editions are more than can be called "minor". Sure, there are "small" changes (presumably due to some editor believing Americans to be more gentle and tender than the rough barbarian English...) but there are a couple of *major* differences (one of which has been beaten to death here before but what the Hell!)
Like, what's the purpose of changing the chapter numbering? This way we have readers from both sides of the Atlantic giving chapter references which can never be reconciled.
So, here follows a list of the differences I've found. I've used two paperback editions - UK "Pan" from 1982 and US "Pocket" from 1983.
Differences in actual wording:
Since this Galaxy began, vast civilizations have risen and fallen, risen and fallen, risen and fallen so often that it's quite tempting to think that life in the Galaxy must be (a) something akin to seasick - space-sick, time sick, history sick or some such thing, and (b) stupid.
'The Most Gratuitous Use Of The Word "Fuck" In A Serious
Screenplay. It's very prestigious.'
'I see', said Arthur, 'yes, and what do you get for that?'
Has been filled out to become:
"The Most Gratuitous Use of the Word "Belgium" in a
Serious Screenplay. It's very prestigious."
"The most gratuitous use of which word?" asked Arthur, with a determined attempt to keep his brain in neutral.
"Belgium," said the girl, "I hardly like to say it."
"Belgium?" exclaimed Arthur.
A drunken seven-toed sloth staggered past, gawked at the word and threw itself backward at a blurry-eyed pterodactyl, roaring with displeasure.
"Are we talking," said Arthur, "about the very flat country, with all the EEC and the fog?"
"What?" said the girl.
"Belgium," said Arthur.
"Raaaaaarrrchchchchch!" screeched the pterodactyl.
"Grrruuuuuurrrghhhh," agreed the seven-toed sloth.
"They must be thinking of Ostend Hoverport," muttered Arthur. He turned back to the girl.
"Have you ever been to Belgium in fact?" he asked brightly and she nearly hit him.
"I think," she said, restraining herself, "that you should restrict that sort of remark to something artistic."
"You sound as if I just said something unspeakable rude."
In today's modern Galaxy there is of course very little still held to be unspeakable. Many words and expressions which only a matter of decades ago were considered so distastefully explicit that, were they merely to be breathed in public, the perpetrator would be shunned, barred from polite society, and in extreme cases shot through the lungs, are now thought to be very healthy and proper, and their use in everyday speech and writing is seen as evidence of a well-adjusted, relaxed and totally un****ed-up personality.
So, for instance, when in a recent national speech the Financial Minister of the Royal World Estate of Quarlvista actually dared to say that due to one thing and another and the fact that no one had made any food for a while and the king seemed to have died and most of the population had been on holiday now for over three years, the economy was now in what he called "one whole joojooflop situation," everyone was so pleased that he felt able to come out and say it that they quite failed to note that their entire five-thousand-year-old civilization had just collapsed overnight.
But even though words like "joojooflop," "swut," and "turlingdrome" are now perfectly acceptable in common usage there is one word that is still beyond the pale. The concept it embodies is so revolting that the publication or broadcast of the word is utterly forbidden in all parts of the Galaxy except for use in Serious Screenplays. There is also, or _was_, one planet where they didn't know what it meant, the stupid turlingdro- mes.
"I see," said Arthur, who didn't, "so what do you get for using the name of a perfectly innocent if slightly dull European country gratuitously in a Serious Screenplay?"
When the debate about editing/censorship started in this forum a few weeks ago, I felt inclined to interpret the changes in a generous mind - that they were really an improvement; that one fairly flat joke hinged upon a four-letter-word was replaced with a long and quite funny side-track. After comparing the exact wording, however, I must say that I find that "censorship" springs to mind again. The phrase:
'The Most Gratuitous Use Of The Word "Fuck" In A Serious Screenplay. It's very prestigious.'
is clearly a strong slap in the face of the entire 'Oscar' award system. Note the capitalization throughout. The re-wording for the US edition with the changes in type-setting gets a totally different flavour:
"The Most Gratuitous Use of the Word "Belgium" in a Serious Screenplay. It's very prestigious."
Not only does this wording avoid the usage of the word "fuck" which, presumably, could have been offensive to some people, but it also introduces a great deal of confusion which takes the pressure away from the awarding system and instead makes us chuckle at Ostend Hoverport. The decisive evidence, however, comes when the word "unfucked-up" is written "un****ed-up". That is the dead give-away that the entire change is due to the fear of "moral judgement". Even in the BBC radio broadcasts, the narrator said "unfucked-up", clearly and explicitly (remember, though, that in the radio shows this passage came in an entirely different context). Taken together with the changing of "asshole" and "shit" into "kneebiter" and "swut", I find it clearly shown that we do indeed have what has been called "The Most Gratuitous Use of Censorship in a Popular Book".
So, what can we do about it? Not a whole lot, I suspect. Except possibly try to spread the word about it and put pressure on the editors by letting them know we object to such changes.
In a recent posting about Robert Heinlein, we were told that new editions of several older books were due with previously omitted passages re-instated (50 000 words in _SiaSL_???!!!) This is all very nice, but why were they cut out in the first place? I for one strongly object to this (or any) kind of censorship and I find it quite appalling that it goes on, even today!
Add in another one. In the UK, it sounds like a hundred thousand people are saying "wop." In the US, that becomes "whop," no doubt because the first form is most commonly used as derogatory ethnic slang.
[Ed. note:] And yet another one! In the UK version of THHGTTG, it mentions Earth orbiting the sun at a distance of roughly 92 million miles, while in the US edition the sum is displayed as roughly 98 million miles. Why that would need to be changed I can hardly fathom, but as it is, so it is... Also, in the UK version, when Arthur and Ford rematerialize at the cricket match, a man drops dead of a heart attack (Agrajagg) - this has been removed (inexplicably) from the US version.