So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish

From Academic Kids

So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish (1984, ISBN 0345391837) is the fourth book of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series written by Douglas Adams.

In May 2005 an adaption of the book, called the "The Quandary Phase" was broadcast as part of the radio series.

Its title is the message left by the dolphins when they departed Planet Earth just before it was demolished to make way for a hyperspatial express route, as described in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It has since been adopted by some science fiction fans as a humorous way to say "goodbye".

It is also the title of a song in the film The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Contents

Plot

The book begins with Arthur Dent, hitch-hiking randomly through the galaxy, arriving at (as the book's blurb describes it) "the last place in the Universe in which he would expect to find anything at all, but which 3,976,000,000 people will find oddly familiar" - namely Earth, continuing on exactly the same as before it was destroyed. (Except that the dolphins are still gone.)

Returning to his miraculously undemolished home, Arthur finds that in his absence he has received an enormous pile of junk mail and a decorative fishbowl inscribed with the words "So Long, and Thanks...".

Through the rest of the book, he encounters a number of other people who have received similar fishbowls, including a woman named Fenchurch, who may be the only person on the planet who remembers that it was destroyed, and Wonko the Sane, who long ago decided that the world had gone mad and built a wall around it with nothing outside except himself and a particularly nice beach in California.

Meanwhile, Ford Prefect has discovered that his entry on "Earth" for the Hitchhiker's Guide has mysteriously re-appeared, and, being Ford, uses the inexplicable opportunity to (1) play an elaborate practical joke on a salesperson for the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation and (2) get some Earth movies which he hadn't seen the endings to because the planet was demolished.

Arthur falls in love with Fenchurch, together, they find out how the Earth came back by holding their fishbowls to their ear. It turns out that this new Earth is a "shadow" Earth, quite probably an Earth from an alternate timeline, brought into this universe by the dolphins' "Campaign to Save the Humans".

In the end, Arthur leaves Earth again, this time accompanied by Fenchurch, and goes in search of God's Final Message To His Creation, the address of which he was given in the previous book in the series by Prak. When they arrive, they meet a dying Marvin (who, because of his extensive and usually unwilling time travel, is about 37 times older than the universe itself) and help him to read the message, which turns out to be "WE APOLOGISE FOR THE INCONVENIENCE"; Marvin, against all probability, then dies happily.

Discussion

The novel has a very different tone to the previous books in the series. Partly this is because it is a romance, and partly it is because the book was rushed. In the end, Adams' editor Sonny Mehta moved in with the author to ensure that the book met its (extended) deadline. As a result, Adams later stated that he was not entirely happy with the book, and the book includes several jarring authorial intrusions, which fellow author Neil Gaiman described as "patronising and unfair".

The book also reflects a significant shift in Adams' view of computers. In the previous books, computers had been portrayed quite negatively, reflecting Adams' then views on the subject. However, between the writing of Life, The Universe and Everything and So Long and Thanks for all the Fish, his attitude toward technology changed considerably. Having been taken along to a computer fair, he became enamoured of the latest Apple Computer microcomputer, the start of a long love-affair with the brand (he claimed to have bought the second Apple Macintosh in the UK - the first was bought by his friend Stephen Fry). In SLATFATF, Arthur Dent purchases a computer for the purpose of star mapping; Adams makes no disparaging comments about this decision at all.

Interesting bits

Chapter 21 is a comedy digression on journalism, cultural progress and sexuality. In it, Adams uses the example of Brequinda on the Foth of Avalars, home to the mythical Fuolornis Fire Dragon.

In the movie The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the opening sequence features a song titled "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish," sung by dolphins as they leave the Earth. A reprise of the song is played again during the ending credits.

During the story Arthur Dent recounts a story of something that once happened to him at a train station. He bought a packet of biscuits and sat down to wait for the train. Then a man, who was already sitting there at the opposite side of the table, opened the packet, took one biscuit and ate it. So Arthur took one, saying nothing, and they went through the whole packet like that. After the man had left, Arthur looks under his newspaper and discovers his packet of biscuits. Douglas Adams claimed this story actually happened to him, although a similar urban legend had been in circulation for years before the book was published. Adams' version of the tale is recounted in its original context in The Salmon of Doubt.

External links

Template:HitchhikerBooksde:Macht's gut, und danke für den Fisch fr:Salut, et encore merci pour le poisson

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