So long, and Thanks for all the Fish!

It's the fourth part of Douglas Adam's "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy"-trilogy, which consists of the following five books:

1. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
2. The Restaurant at the end of the Universe
3. The Life, the Universe, and Everything
4. So long, and Thanks for all the Fish
5. Mostly Harmless

In my opinion, this trilogy (quintology ;-)) is the best work in Humorous/Sci-Fi literature. If you have not read it yet, then DO READ IT NOW!

Ugly tongues often say the parts 3-5 weren't as good as the first two ... I think they are as good and as funny, but in their own way.

Just lately I installed a demo-version of the new SuSE Linux 7.2 (great prog!). As I was testing the X-Server, the screen got blank and showed, for five seconds, the sentence:

"Douglas, wherever you are now, keep your towel and don't panic!"

Regards to the guy who had this idea, and tons of regards to Douglas Adams!

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish is the fourth book in Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide series. Fans of the novels, as with all fans of unusual or quirky science fiction, take great joy in accepted inaccuracies, in this case insisting on calling HG2G a trilogy, because it contains five volumes.

The book follows our faithful protagonist Arthur Dent, who is on Earth, and he doesn't know why. This is because (and if you haven't read the books, this might be a spoiler), the last time Arthur Dent had checked on the Earth, it had been very much blown up (for the second, or possibly third time thus far, depending on how you feel). However, for now, it's back again, and Arthur, no longer with Ford, Zaphod, or Trillian, resumes his generally normal life. This involves meeting Fenchurch, who was, in an earlier existence, a girl sitting on her own in a small café in Ricksmansworth, who suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time, it was right, it would work, and nobody would have to get nailed to anything. Unfortunately, before she could get to a phone to tell someone about it, a terrible, stupid catastrophe occurred, and the idea was lost forever. But when we read about that, it was not her story. Now it is.

Whether or not the difference is a good thing, it is definitely true that So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish is a distinctly different read from the other books in the series. Ford and Zaphod are barely involved, although Marvin gets a considerable amount of attention, even getting to hear God's final message. Also important is the character of Agrajag, and the mysterious place of Stavromula Beta. Near the end, there is a fishbowl. Readers will know what that means. The title, of course, comes from the dolphins' last message to Earthlings, which was famously misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double-backward somersault through a hoop while whistling "The Star-Spangled Banner" and punching a football.

Douglas Adams said once of the book, " be honest, I really shouldn't have written (it), and I felt that when I was writing it. I did the best I could, but it wasn't, you know, really from the heart." Which is on one hand surprising, as the book happens to have a lot of heart, in the sweet romance between Arthur and Fenchurch, although on the other hand, it might seem a little too easy, and not enough of an honest Hitchhiker's Guide novel.

"So Long & Thanks for All the Fish" was also the name of a song opening the movie version of Hitchhiker's Guide, as written by Joby Talbot, Garth Jennings & Christopher Austin, and performed by Hilary Summers, Kemi Ominiyi & the RSVP Voices. The song goes:

So long and thanks for all the fish
So sad that it should come to this
We tried to warn you all, but oh dear

You may not share our intellect
Which might explain your disrespect
For all the natural wonders that grow around you
So long, so long and thanks for all the fish

Your world's about to be destroyed
There's no point getting all annoyed
Lie back and let the planet dissolve around you

Despite those nets of tuna fleets
We thought that most of you were sweet
Especially tiny tots and your pregnant women

So long, so long, so long, so long, so long
So long, so long, so long, so long, so long
So long, so long and thanks for all the fish

If I had just one last wish
I would like a tasty fish

If we could just change one thing
We would all have learned to sing

Come one and all
Man and mammal
Side by side
In life's great gene pool

So long, so long, so long, so long, so long
So long, so long, so long, so long, so long
So long, so long and thanks for all the fish

An alternate version of the song, as performed by Neil Hannon, plays over the movie's credits.

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