The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

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I. Arthur wakes up from a long night of drinking, brushes his teeth and walks down the stairs hitting his head on the door frame when he gets to the kitchen. He starts making tea and puts bread in the toaster, while the kettle is whistling he forgets about the toast and it ends up burnt. Arthur tries to remember what he learned the day before that caused him to be depressed and spend all night at the pub when he feels his house shaking. Stunned to see a yellow bulldozer outside, he drops the teacup on the floor, it shattering, and runs outside. Suddenly remembering what he had learned last night, he took action by lying in the mud so that the bulldozer could go no further. Arthur and Mr. Prosser have an argument about how much damage the bulldozer would sustain if Arthur stayed where he was at. Ford Prefect bribed the workers to not destroy Arthur s house with two carts full of beer. While they were slacking off , Ford dragged Arthur to the pub down the road, bought six pints of beer, and ask the barman to hurry because the world was about to end. While they were chugging their beers, Ford admitted to Arthur that he wasn t from Earth, but was from a small planet in the vicinity of Betelgeuse. Ford s Sub-Etha Sens-O-Matic he carried with him was beeping repetitively, he sprang up and ran outside seeing humongous ships approaching from space. About the same time that Ford ran outside, Arthur heard a large crash assuming it was his house being destroyed. He ran all the way back to his house to find that is had been mostly demolished, but tall of the workers were running away. He looked up to finally see the huge yellow ships. The Vogon leader came onto the loudspeaker that was heard all over the entire planet and told the world of its fate; it was to be destroyed to make a hyperspatial express route, just as Arthurs was being destroyed for an interstate bypass. The world was silent. There was a ghastly sound. There was ghastly silence.

Zaphod Beeblebrox is an arrogant, a three-armed, two-headed, smooth-talking, adventurer, ex-hippy, good timer, manic self-publicist, who is terribly bad at personal relationships. One day, coincidentally the same day The Heart of Gold was being unveiled, decided that he was going to run for president. The President of the Imperial galactic Government s job has almost zero power. That being s job is to actually draw attention away from the government. Beeblebrox delivers a speech that he was making up as he went at the unveiling of The Heart of Gold to show the galaxy what the scientists have been developing over a long time. As Beeblebrox was speaking, he started to admire the ship. He stopped his speech and started talking about the ship. And in front of six billion and three people watching him speak, he said That really is truly amazing. That is so amazingly amazing that I think I d like to steal it. He ran up to the ship, brought the Sub-Etha Paralyso-Matic bomb, activated it, threw it at the crowd and flew away in the ship. Arthur regains consciousness in a dark, steamy room thanks to Ford s knowledge of hitchhiking. Arthur asks Ford where they are, he tells him that they are safe inside the core of a Vogon Constructor ship. While Arthur is still trying to wrap his mind around the fact that the world no longer exists, Ford tries to light matches to find a light switch to see where exactly they are. The ship that they were on was owned by one Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz, he does not like hitchhikers. Jeltz had a guard bring them to the main deck so that he could interrogate them.

The Guide tells everyone that you should never let a Vogon read you poetry; it is the worst in the galaxy. Jeltz gave them a choice; be shot into the vacuum of space or give an opinion of his poetry. They chose the poetry. Ford and Arthur struggled to remain conscious, but still lived. Jeltz still shot them into space. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy says that if you hold a lungful of air you can survive in the total vacuum of space for about thirty seconds, although with "space being the mind-boggling size it is the chances of getting picked up by another ship within those thirty seconds are two to the power of two hundred and seventy-six thousand seven hundred and nine to one against." The Heart of Gold s computer noticed that one of its airlocks had randomly opened and closed itself back. A device that Ford had told them that they had been picked up by an Infinite Improbability Drive powered ship, the voice of the device went on to say that the ship was the Heart of Gold. They were inside the improbability matrix and were being changed and having their environment around them changed at the same time.

The Infinite Improbability Drive was thought to be impossible for most of the time it was thought of. A young scientist that was ordered to clean up after a particularly unsuccessful party decided to give a finite improbability drive a nice fresh hot cup of tea and turn it on; thus the infinite improbability drive is born. The cabin of the Heart of Gold has an infinite improbability shield so that in all odds, they stay the same. As the ship returned to a improbability factor of one to one, Trillian came over the intercom to tell their new hitchhikers that they were in normality and that they will be brought to the deck soon. Zaphod complained to Trillian that is wasn t smart to have picked up the hitchhikers because the police were after their ship. Trillian didn t pick them up in the first place; it was a mix-up of the ship. Marvin was sent to the holding bay where Ford and Arthur are. As Marvin showed up, depressed as usual, he had a ray gun pointed at the two hiding in the corner of the little room; he motioned for them to follow him. The doors on the Heart of Gold are supposed to have a cheery noise as the open and close, it sounds more like a sad sigh. They are part of the ships program to make everyone happier, Marvin is a prototype robot of that program, being depressed; he considers himself a failure. When they reach the deck, Zaphod jumps out trying to scare them, Arthur flinches, but Ford runs at him. Ford and Zaphod are long lost semi-half brothers that have been separated for at least fifteen years the Ford was on earth. Trillian slowly walked around the corner of the room and is thrilled to see Arthur; they haven t seen each other since the party.

As the Heart of Gold silently flew through the emptiness of space, the artificial night closed in, the crew of four people was happy to go to their private cabins to think about the events of the day. Zaphod was continuing his search for the planet that nobody has found without exact coordinates, when Ford decided to walk around the ship trying to get used to it. He got to the bridge and Zaphod finally found the planet, he was exhilarated. Zaphod turns the ship around towards the direction of Magrathea. Magrathea is a very rich planet, being rich on that planet is not a thing to be ashamed of; there are hardly any poor people there, or at least not many to be named. On Magrathea, they were all rich because they were hyperspatial engineers that pulled matter through white hold to make custom planets for whoever could afford them. After a certain time, people on Magrathea became so rich, that the rest of the galaxy was reduced to poverty; the market of custom planets was demolished, and Magrathea was forgotten and reduced to only a myth.

Arthur woke to sounds of an argument between Zaphod and Ford about the existence of Magrathea. Zaphod told the cheerful computer to give their current trajectory; it replied that they were orbiting the legendary planet of Magrathea. The computer opened the covers to the outer windows so that the crew could see the planet, when they opened their eyes to see what was there, the suns were shining right at the planet, making it seem like a mirror, once they were on the other side of the planet, and they could only see deserts and flat land. Zaphod was still convinced that there were still treasures there, under the surface. Ford suggested that the planet was dead. Arthur couldn t stand the suspense of who was right about the possibility of something being on the planet.

Arthur left the deck with Trillian, he found the Nutri-Matic that provided him with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea. The Nutri-Matic was another device of the Heart of Gold that was invented by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation which has a complaint department that covers all the major landmasses of the first three planets in the Sirius Tau Star System. At this time, Ford and Zaphod were still on the bridge talking about Magrathea. Ford asked Zaphod if the planet was safe to go to; Zaphod told Ford that it has been dead for five million years and that all the ghosts that still inhabit it have settled down and raised families. The computer of the ship told them that they were being broadcasted a message telling them that the planet is temporarily closed for business. Zaphod tells the computer to keep going down, and another message comes on the screen telling the crew that there are two courtesy fully loaded nuclear warheads headed in their direction. They scramble to find a manual to figure how to fly the ship to avoid the missiles; that failed and Zaphod ends up hitting the Infinite Probability button turning the missiles into a killer whale and a small pot of petunias. The whale had been brought into existence two mile above the ground; he came up with the simple things he could, he invented the words; wind, tail, and his head. The pot of petunias didn t have much time to think, all that he thought of was Oh not this again. Within seconds the petunias smashed into the bare rocks on the surface, and the whale in a flat sand bed. As they landed, Ford complained that they were bringing Marvin with them.

Zaphod was depressed about what he had found; he stalked off by himself and eventually lost sight of the rest of the group. The rest of them were wandering around aimlessly, Trillian was looking around and thought she saw something out of the corner of her eye, but when she tried to find it again, she only saw Zaphod on a hill waving his arms because he had found something; a hole caused by the force of the falling whale that led to the interior of the planet. Zaphod tells Arthur and Marvin to watch the opening while the others go inside. As Zaphod Trillian and Ford walked around, they found definite signs of life; old documents, computers, and old clothes. Back on the surface, Arthur starts to read articles in The Guide. He read about the invention of the ballpoint pen, and the Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters. As the suns began to go down, Marvin and Arthur were talking about how Earth was before it was destroyed, Marvin, as usual, had nothing but depressing words to say. Arthur took another walk when Marvin decided to go to sleep again, as he was walking around, he almost ran into an old man before he noticed him behind a rock.

The old man was tallish, elderly and dressed in a single long gray robe. He turned towards Arthur, his face was Care-worn, but not unkind, the sort of face you would happily bank with. He finally saw Arthur standing there; he didn t introduce himself, as he assured Arthur that his name was unimportant. When Arthur asked again, the man turned away and motioned him to follow. The man went on to talk about how Magrathea was not dead but just sleeping, ever since the market crashed five millions years ago and that they are actually still making custom planets. Arthur and the old man leave Marvin behind because he believes he would take too long. They reached the man s air-car, Arthur asked his name again and the man said it was Slartibartfast, and reassured that is wasn t important.

It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they may seem. For instance, man has always thought that they were the more intelligent than the dolphin because they had achieved so much; the wheel, New York, wars and so on, but all dolphins have done is have fun in the water. But in fact they knew of the impending doom Earth was in for, they left before the Vogons had arrived. The only creature that was more intelligent than the dolphin, they spent most of their time in behavioral laboratories running round inside wheels and conducting frighteningly elegant and subtle experiments on man. The fact is that once again, man had misinterpreted this relationship that was entirely according to this creatures plan. The air-car Arthur and the man were on was hardly shaking; it felt as if they were hardly moving at all. Arthur noticed a bright light in the distance that got bigger and bigger very quickly, they passed light and changed direction to begin going straight down, and he figured they were going several hundred mph. They stopped at a small station, the old man told Arthur that the next chamber they were going to pass through was not part of the planet, but actually a hyperspace portal that brought them to the main manufacturing place that was literally not on the planet Magrathea; it was too big. The old man points out a specific planet that they are building, Arthur recognizes it; it was a new Earth. Arthur was in shock, the old man explained that they were making an exact copy from the old one. The man and Arthur talked about how Magratheans made the Earth and that mice were conducting experiments on man and not the other way around.

The mice were on Earth to figure the answer to life; they had built a computer that would calculate that answer. On the day on the Great On-Turning of Deep-Thought, the two programmers asked the computer if it was the greatest one of all time, it said it was the second best, but could not tell the greatest. After being convinced that they were not getting an answer, they asked Deep-Though for the Answer; the Answer to Life, the Universe, Everything. The two greatest philosophers, Majikrhise and Vroomfondel demanded that the programmers turn Deep-Thought off and for it to be destroyed because if it does come up with the Answer, they would be out of a job. The programmers refused, and asked Deep-Thought the question again, it told them that all of the circuits of itself were dedicated to calculating the answer. It was going to take seven and a half million years. The old man told Arthur that that was only the first half of the story; he would have to watch archived documentaries on the Sens-O-Tape recorder. They got back to the air-car and headed back in the direction the came from.

They arrived at the old man s office, which was nearly destroyed from all the work he had stacked around the tables and random art pieces on the tables, Arthur sat down in a chair made from a stegosaurus s ribcage. The man gave Arthur two stripped wire and told him to hold his breath. Suddenly Arthur was in midair, floating over the scene seven and a half million years later; he watched as people cried out that the wait was over for Deep-Thought to calculate the answer. There were two men that resembled news reporters talking to the crowd about them not needing to worry about what their purpose in life was; they asked Deep-Thought if it had come up with an answer. Deep-Thought was ready. Everyone there was going crazy over the anticipation, Deep-Thoughts answer was simply forty-two.

There was a long period of silence after Deep-Thought had spoken the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. The two programmers argued with the computer about how that couldn t be the answer to the question; Deep-Thought s reply was that there was never an actual question asked. Deep-Thought went on to tell everyone about the computer that would be able to calculate the answer to their question; the Earth. Zaphod, Trillian, and Ford woke up into a catalog; they got fed up with their fighting and complaints and put them into the Sens-O-Tape. They wandered around their small planet, a sign flew out of nowhere; saying Whatever your tastes, Magrathea can cater for you. We are not proud. Ford and Zaphod went on to talk about how it wasn t Zaphod s idea to steal the Heart of Gold, but it was one of his old friends.

In the old man s office, Arthur and he were talking about the Earth being the most advanced computer program ever conceived, and that the Vogons demolished it five minutes before the program was complete; ten million years in the making, destroyed in less than a second. The old man was going to be in charge of recreating Africa, he is old-fashioned with the way he makes fjords; he won a medal for making Norway on Earth Mach I.

A short air-car trip brought Arthur to a doorway. They left the car and went through the door into a waiting room full of glass-topped table and plexiglass awards. Almost immediately a light flashed above them as they walked into the other room. He heard familiar voices yell that he was safe, it was Ford Zaphod and Trillian; they were sitting around a table stuffing their faces with food. As Arthur got closer to the table, he was introduced to their hosts ; Benji and Frankie. The mice told the old man to leave, and proposed getting to business. Everyone agreed, the two mice explained that Arthur was the only key remaining to the program that they were running; his brain is what the mice need to finish the program and find the question and answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. They were going to buy his brain for a large sum of money and give him a simple electronic one. Arthur didn t take the deal because he would notice the difference in himself if they took his brain. All of the food and drinks that Ford, Zaphod, and Trillian were eating were laced with a sort of sleeping drug that knocked them out in perfect time for the mice to try to strap Arthur into his seat and steal his brain. Arthur began to try to reason with the two mice; he came up with questions for them to fake so that he would be able to keep his brain, it was a failure. The Zaphod, Trillian, and Ford that were at the table were illusions; the real ones were outside of the house being confronted by the police for stealing the Heart of Gold. They ran inside, killed the mice, and broke the straps holding Arthur down. They were surrounded by the police outside arguing whether the police were going to shoot them or not.

One of the cops that were arguing shot one of the others, which started a gunfight between all of the cops. Zaphod grabbed one of the Kill-O-Zap guns and they ran to the air-car. They traveled at speeds past R17, which was considered to be excessively fast in the galaxy, Ford slammed the brake when they reached the Heart of Gold. There was a police cruiser next to the ship, both of the cops dead. Once they got on the ship, and settled down, Zaphod complained about being hungry and decided to fly to the Restaurant at the End of The Universe.

II. Characters:

Arthur Dent- A simple British Earthman continuously confused throughout the book loves tea. Dynamic Major Character

Zaphod Beeblebrox- Arrogant self admiring president of the galaxy. He has two heads, the main one for presidential thoughts and the other for person thoughts.

Dynamic Major Character

Trillian McMillen- Beautiful girl that is also from Earth. She is also British, and brought two mice that almost ended the world the second time. Dynamic Major Character

Ford Prefect- A man who lived on Earth for 15 years, doing research for The Guide.

He is really from a small planet from the vicinity of Betelgeuse. Static Major Character

Marvin- a manically depressed, paranoid robot. He is a prototype robot that is supposed to be a cheery servant.

Static Minor Character

Eddie- the overly cheery computer of the Heart of Gold. He is always on the crews

Nerves trying to be helpful but ends up being in the way. Static Minor Character

III. Conflict: Man vs. Self- Arthur being confused constantly about what he should do and what is going on.

Man vs. society- Zaphod running from the police chasing him for stealing the Heart of Gold.

Man vs. Nature- Arthur fighting against the two mice that are determined to steal his brain.

IV. Plot Statements: Arthur s life is introduced as a depressing earthling, his best friend is not really from earth, but is from another planet outside the galaxy. The Earth is destroyed by the Vogon constructor fleet. Ford, Arthur, Zaphod, and Trillian find the legendary planet of Magrathea, and find out that it isn t a dead planet. Arthur is the first person to see the Earth Mach II. The crew finds the ship again, leaves Magrathea and travel to the other side of the universe to go to Miliways.

V. Short Answer:

1. Ford Prefect; he seems to be the person you would want to know if you don t understand something. He is a very knowledgeable person, especially at hitchhiking, which is illegal in most places now, but inter-planet travel would be an experience to try.

2. The Vogon president; the poetry is horrible, and he wouldn t save his own mother from a terrible beast from Trall.

3. I would have killed the mice when I first saw them; I seriously dislike mice. They were the most intelligent beings on Earth, but they were too smart for their own good.

4. I really liked the ending to the book, it ends on a good note; they went to the best restaurant in the universe, Miliways. The plot was not very realistic, but it may be. We might not know of the other planets that have life on them, the possibility of other races and species outside of the Milky Way. It could go either way, maybe in ten to twenty years, we will know of other planets with life on them, or find species on Earth that help explain the answer to life.