List of races and species in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
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This is a list of races, fauna, and flora (as well as creatures without category) featured in various incarnations of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The fictional creations have, as they are comedic, real-world parallels.
- 1 Races
- 1.1 Aldebarans
- 1.2 Altairians
- 1.3 Amoeboid Zingatularians
- 1.4 Bartledannians
- 1.5 Belcerabons
- 1.6 Betelgeusians
- 1.7 Blagulon Kappans
- 1.8 Brontitallians
- 1.9 Dentrassis
- 1.10 Dolphins
- 1.11 G'Gugvuntts and Vl'hurgs
- 1.12 Golgafrinchans
- 1.13 Grebulons
- 1.14 Haggunenons
- 1.15 Hingefreel
- 1.16 Hooloovoo
- 1.17 Hrarf-Hrarfy
- 1.18 Humans
- 1.19 Jatravartids
- 1.20 Krikkiters
- 1.21 Lamuellans
- 1.22 Magratheans
- 1.23 Mice
- 1.24 Oglaroonians
- 1.25 Poghrils
- 1.26 Quarlvistians
- 1.27 Shaltanacs
- 1.28 Silastic Armourfiends of Striterax
- 1.29 Strangulous Stilettans of Jajazikstak
- 1.30 Strenuous Garfighters of Stug
- 1.31 Vogons
- 2 Fauna
- 2.1 Algolian Suntiger
- 2.2 Ameglian Major Cows
- 2.3 Arcturian Mega-things
- 2.4 Babel fish
- 2.5 Boghog
- 2.6 Damogran Frond Crested Eagle
- 2.7 Equinusian packbeast
- 2.8 Fallian albino marsh worm
- 2.9 Fuolornis Fire Dragon
- 2.10 Flaybooz
- 2.11 Greater Drubbered Wintwock
- 2.12 Mattress
- 2.13 Perfectly Normal Beast
- 2.14 Pikka Bird
- 2.15 Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
- 2.16 Scintillating Jeweled Scuttling Crabs
- 2.17 Syneca Snowhounds
- 2.18 Vegan Rhino
- 2.19 Vogon Slapsticks
- 3 Flora
- 4 References
These are the intelligent races as described by author Douglas Adams in his "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" series of novels.
The popular anti-teleport song claims that "Aldebaran's great, Okay", but the Aldebarans are better known for their liqueurs (sold at Milliways), and fine wines (as Trillian prepared for Zaphod after deactivating all the Heart of Gold kitchen synthomatics).
It will take less than thirty Altairan dollars a day for hitchhikers to see the universe; so long as said hitchhikers avoid buying fruit drinks at Ursa Minor Beta bars, which cost sixty Altairian dollars. Zaphod Beeblebox mysteriously receives an annual 60,000 Altairian dollars into his Brantisvogan account; however, the currency is also said to have "recently collapsed". Ford Prefect says wistfully, "if I had one Altairan dollar for every time...".
The Amoeboid Zingatularians appear as a stellar replacement in the long-running comedic play No Sex Please, We're British at the end of Fit the Third of the radio series.
Inhabitants of the planet Bartledann. The people of Bartledann are similar to humans, but do not breathe. Due to their view on the Universe – that the Universe is what the Universe is, take it or leave it – they have no desires, dreams or hopes, to the point that the protagonist of a large boring book abruptly dies of thirst in the penultimate chapter of the book due to a briefly mentioned plumbing problem earlier on. Bartledannian literature is renowned, and its books are notable for being exactly one hundred thousand words long. Netball is a popular sport among the people of Bartledann despite the fact that no one cares about winning. Arthur meets them in Mostly Harmless during his search for a new home.
The Belcerabons of Kakrafoon Kappa had an unhappy time. Once a serene and quiet civilization, a Galactic Tribunal sentenced them to telepathy because the rest of the galaxy found peaceful contemplation contemptuous. Ford Prefect compared them to Humans because the only way Belcerabons could stop transmitting their every thought was to mask their brain activity (or its readability) by talking endlessly about utter trivia. The other approach to dampening telepathic communication was to host concerts of the plutonium rock band Disaster Area. Thankfully, during the concert, an improbability field flipped over the Rudlit Desert, transforming it into a paradise, and cured the Belcerabons of telepathy. A Disaster Area spokesman said that this was "a good gig".
A race similar to humans in many ways, from which Ford Prefect and Zaphod Beeblebrox are descended. Ford and his father are the last survivors of Betelgeuse Seven; Zaphod and his family are from Betelgeuse Five. Whether Betelgeuse Sevenians are exclusively one-headed and Betelgeuse Fiveans exclusively two-headed is currently not known.
Betelgeusians live longer than Earth humans by 200 years, and do not understand sarcasm. They can intermarry, since Zaphod is Ford's "semi-cousin" who shares "three of the same mothers" with him. Ford Prefect mentions his "favourite mother" in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. What this means is not yet clear.
Blagulon Kappans are methane-breathing life forms from Blagulon Kappa, which only appear in the novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as the sophisticated police that attack Zaphod Beeblebrox. They die because Marvin the Paranoid Android causes their ship to commit suicide by sharing his overly pessimistic view of the Universe with it. This in turn renders their space suits, which are remote controlled by the ship, unusable. This proves fatal because they cannot breathe in the thin oxygen atmosphere of Magrathea. However, in the episode 4 of the TV series, the police are simply humanoids and able to breathe the air.
From the highly mysterious planet Brontitiall (from Fit the Tenth of the radio series), the Brontitallians have evolved into Bird People (who don't have names, what's the point?) who live in the ear of a 15-mile-high statue of Arthur Dent.
Generations ago, the planet, at the high of its technological civilization, suffered two blights. The first, the blight of the robots, where the machines "told us they liked us", was overcome by an improbable night-sky vision of Dent fighting with the Nutrimatic Machine. The robots were collected up and forced to build the statue as an eternal reminder, and then sent to a slave planet to make continent toupees (for worlds where they have used up all the forests).
The second blight, the Shoe Event Horizon (see Harsh Economic Truths, class 17) – (from Fit the Eleventh of the radio series) – where a declining civilization spends so much time and money buying new shoes to cheer themselves up until "the whole economy overbalances. Shoes shops outnumber every other kind of shop, it becomes economically impossible to build anything other than shoe shops ... famine, collapse and ruin. Any survivors ... evolve into birds and never put their feet on the ground again".
Dentrassis are the best cooks and the best drink mixers in the universe. The Vogons can now afford them by being professionally bad tempered. Described by the character Ford Prefect as "The best cooks and the best drinks mixers, and they don't give a wet slap about anything else." In most versions of the story, they help galactic hitchhikers board Vogon Constructor Ships "partly because they like the company, but mostly because it annoys the Vogons."
Dolphins are the second most intelligent creatures on Earth, above humans and below mice. They tried in vain to warn humans of the impending destruction of the planet. However, their behavior was misinterpreted as playful tricks (such as attempts to punch footballs or whistle for tidbits). It eventually pushed them to leaving Earth by their own means. The last ever dolphin message was misinterpreted as an attempt to do a double-backward somersault through a hoop while whistling "The Star-Spangled Banner," but the message was actually: So long and thanks for all the fish. Their story is told in the novel So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish taking its name from the aforementioned quote. The quote was also adapted into a song for the film adaptation.
G'Gugvuntts and Vl'hurgs
Two species which existed in the distant past, a very great distance from the Milky Way galaxy. The G'Gugvuntt were enemies of the Vl'hurgs, and these strange and warlike beings are on the brink of an interstellar war, because of an insult uttered by the G'Gugvuntt leader to the mother of the Vl'hurg leader. Resplendent in their black-jeweled battle shorts, the two opposing leaders were meeting for the last time, and a dreadful silence filled the air as the Vl'hurg leader was challenging the G'Gugvuntt leader to retract the insult. At the precise moment, the phrase "I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle" (muttered by Arthur Dent to himself, which for some strange reason was carried by a freak wormhole in space back in time to the farthest regions of the universe where the G'Gugvuntts and the Vl'hurgs lived) filled the air over the conference table, which in the Vl'hurg tongue was the most dreadful insult imaginable. It left them no choice but to declare war on the G'Gugvuntts, which went on for a few thousand years and decimated their entire galaxy.
After millennia of battle the surviving G'Gugvuntt and Vl'hurg realised what had actually happened, and joined forces to attack the Milky Way -the actual source of the offending remark- in retaliation. They crossed vast reaches of space in a journey lasting thousands of years before reaching their target where they attacked the first planet they encountered, Earth. Due to a terrible miscalculation of scale the entire battle fleet was swallowed by a small dog. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy states that this sort of thing happens all the time.
In the film's mid-credits guide entry, the phrase is stated as: "I wouldn't want to go anywhere without my wonderful towel," which in this case applied to both races' tongues. The two opposing species also settled their few remaining differences immediately after the remark to commence their joint attack on our galaxy. In the computer game The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, any remark that the text parser does not understand has a chance of triggering a story arc involving the player's poorly chosen words travelling to the negotiation table and becoming the aforementioned insult.
The Golgafrinchans are a race from the planet Golgafrincham that appears in Fit the Sixth of the radio series, episode 6 of the TV series and the novel The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. In their ancient history, they tricked the most useless third (the middlemen) of their population to get on a spaceship and leave the planet, by spreading rumours of the horrific fates their planet was doomed to soon undergo, such as being eaten by a gigantic mutant star goat, or collapsing into the sun. The plan was to get them to crash on a "harmless" planet, thus losing any capacity for space travel; they would then be out of everyone's hair.
Soon after they managed to get rid of these people – including all the telephone sanitizers – the entire remaining population was wiped out by a plague contracted from a dirty telephone.
The survivors who left on the spaceship eventually did crash onto Earth, as planned. They managed to nearly wipe out the primitive, but wise, population of original inhabitants, thus corrupting Deep Thought's 10-million-year plan to discover the Ultimate Question to the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. The natives are presumed to be the original ancestors of what humanity would become, but the Golgafrinchans's loud and destructive behavior on Earth seems to make the original natives sluggish and de-motivated. Arthur wants to believe that the natives are humanity's true ancestors, but they are clearly dying of depression and exhaustion, while the Golgafrinchans stick relentlessly to largely-unproductive business-style meetings where, for example, we learn they have not yet invented the wheel, because nobody's sure what color it should be. Likewise, fire has yet to be discovered, due to similar irrelevant concerns.
While trying—in vain—to teach one of the natives (who have not even developed a consistent language yet—even with his Babel fish, Arthur only hears inarticulate grunting) to play Scrabble with bits of carved stone, one of the natives surprises Arthur by spelling out, neatly, forty-two. This, of course, is the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, and this planet is the organic computer designed to produce the Ultimate Question.
According to the highly-intelligent android Marvin, the Golgafrinchan's descendants (such as Arthur) carry a distorted version of the Ultimate Question in their brainwave patterns, suggesting the computer that was the Earth adapted to a new, if ineffective dominant species. Arthur and Ford suggest Arthur pull out Scrabble letters at random, just to see if anything comes of it.
This does, in fact, produce a question: "What do you get if you multiply six by nine". Very simple, and perfectly wrong, except in base 13.
The natives soon make it clear they wish to be left alone by Arthur, Ford, and the Golgafrinchans.
The last mention of the Golgafrinchans occurs in Life, the Universe, and Everything, when Arthur tells Ford that many Golgafrinchans didn't make it through the first winter, but those who survived until springtime made rafts and set off for presumably more-temperate climates, adding "History says that they must have survived . . . . "
Ancient Golgafrinchan culture included a sect known as 'the great circling poets of Arium', who would abuse travelers, circle them and throw rocks at them. Afterwards, they would recite an epic poem which usually involved the rescue of a beautiful monster from a ravening Princess by five sage Princes on four horses. The second, much longer part of the poem details the arguments the princes held over who was going to have to walk back.
The Grebulons are a race that appears in the novel Mostly Harmless. They are observing the Earth, but do not know why.
During the centuries-long spaceflight the Grebulons were all in suspended animation with their memories saved to the ship's computer (which was struck by an asteroid influenced by Guide Mark II). With the loss of the backup, after the robots carrying it also fell out of the hole made by the asteroid, the Grebulons awoke with no idea where they were going or who they were. What little instructions they could extract from the wrecked computer told them to "land" somewhere and "monitor" something, so they landed on Rupert and monitored the television transmissions from Earth.
Trillian later reveals that the Grebulons are a missing reconnaissance fleet from the war that she was meant to cover (which never happened because the Grebulons never arrived with their respective army).
The Haggunenons of Vicissitus Three were encountered in the Fit the Sixth of the radio series when Ford and Zaphod attempted to steal an Admiral's flagship from the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. According to the Guide, the Haggunenons "have the most impatient chromosomes in the Galaxy. Whereas most races are content to evolve slowly and carefully over thousands of generations, discarding a prehensile toe here, nervously hazarding another nostril there, the Haggunenons would have done for Charles Darwin what a squadron of Arcturan Stunt Apples would have done for Sir Isaac Newton. Their genetic structure is based on the quadruple sterated octohelix...." Their tendency to evolve almost instantaneously has the downside of discarding one deficiency for another. For example, when they reach for sugar for their coffee, they may evolve "into something with far longer arms, but which is probably quite incapable of drinking the coffee." They resent stable species, due, they say, to having appreciated what it is like to be every other life-form they can think of. They express this appreciation by waging war on stable species in their horribly beweaponed chameleoid black battle cruisers.
The Haggunenon Admiral turned out to have been sleeping on his flagship in the form of a chair while Ford, Arthur, Zaphod, Trillian and Marvin returned it to its proper time and place at the vanguard of an invasion fleet. It then evolved into a copy of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, from which Ford and Arthur were able to escape, but which ate Marvin, Trillian and Zaphod. Those three later made their escape when the admiral evolved into an escape capsule.
This monster also appears in the "Dungeons and Dragons Epic Level Handbook" as the Hagunemnon. Like their Hitchhiker's counterparts, they too are unstable shapeshifters with a deep loathing for non-shapeshifting lifeforms.
A race with only a very small mention, at the start of Chapter 1 of the novel Mostly Harmless. Hailing from Arkintoofle Minor, they built spaceships powered by bad news, which is the only thing that travels faster than light. Their ships were very fast, but didn't work particularly well, and were extremely unwelcome wherever they arrived.
A Hooloovoo is a hyper-intelligent shade of the colour of blue.
Little is known of them, except that one participated in the construction of the starship Heart of Gold. At the launching ceremony one was temporarily refracted into a free-standing prism. This is probably analogous to the ceremonial multicoloured lab coats worn by the rest of the team.
One of their race is pointed out by The Doctor in the 2013 Doctor Who episode "The Rings of Akhaten".
Hrarf-Hrarfy are a race of beings whose lifespans flow backwards in linear time. Their lives begin at death, and end "in a really quite extraordinarily pleasant birth." They are also described as the "only race known actually to enjoy hangovers, because they know it guarantees that a tremendously good evening will ensue."
The race is mentioned only in the radio series The Tertiary Phase, written specially for that series by Douglas Adams in the mid-1990s.
Humans are bipedal creatures from Earth, and the third most intelligent species on that planet, surpassed only by mice and dolphins. Originally thought to have evolved from proto-apes, humans may in fact be descendants of Golgafrinchan telephone sanitizers, account executives, and marketing analysts who were tricked out of leaving their home planet to arrive on the planet ca. two million BC. These Golgafrinchans apparently displaced the indigenous cavemen as the organic components in the computer designed by Deep Thought, since a distorted vestige of the Ultimate Question remained (or developed) in the brains of the descendants of the Golgafrinchans—the new human colonizers of the planet, whose very presence slowly killed off the original, primitive version of mankind. Marvin said he could see the Ultimate Question printed in Arthur's brainwaves. Many of the Golgafrinchans died out during their first winter on prehistoric Earth, but several others built rafts and set out for more temperate climes. As Arthur mused, "History says they must have survived . . . ."
Jatravartids are small blue creatures of the planet Viltvodle VI with more than fifty arms each. They are therefore unique in being the only race in history to have invented aerosol deodorant before the wheel (though their wheels are the wrong shape; a bike with literally square wheels can be seen in the film).
Many races believe that the Universe was created by some sort of god or in the Big Bang. The Jatravartids, however, believe that the Universe was sneezed out of the nose of a being called the Great Green Arkleseizure. They live in perpetual fear of the time they call "The Coming of the Great White Handkerchief" (their version of the End of the Universe). The theory of the Great Green Arkleseizure is not widely accepted outside Viltvodle VI.
For the 2005 movie The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams created a new character called Humma Kavula, a cyborg missionary whose apparent mission is to spread the religion of the Jatravartids. The Jatravartids are only seen on screen during two brief (and poorly lit) shots, though their discarded aerosol cans are found all over their planet's surface. "Caveman"-style illustrations of the Jatravartians feature in one episode of the Hitchhiker's Guide TV series.
This race of quiet, polite, charming and rather whimsical humanoids caused the most devastating war in the history of the Galaxy (with over two "grillion" casualties). Their homeworld, Krikkit, is surrounded by a black cloud, so they had no knowledge of the universe outside their world. When a spaceship crashed on the surface of Krikkit, the inhabitants quickly stripped it of its secrets and used them to create their own "flimsy piece of near-junk" craft, Krikkit One. Upon reaching the outer edge of the dust cloud and seeing the galaxy for the first time, the people of Krikkit marvelled at its beauty before being gripped with fear of it and casually deciding to destroy it, famously remarking "It'll have to go." The Earth game of cricket is a racial memory of the events of the Krikkit Wars. The story of these events is told in the novel Life, the Universe and Everything. The Krikkiters first appeared in Douglas Adams' unused script for a Doctor Who movie called Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen.
Lamuellans are a humanoid race from the planet Lamuella. It is on this planet that a passenger starship crashes, and Arthur Dent is the only survivor. There he becomes the planet's Sandwich Maker. The Lamuellans are led, more or less, by Old Thrashbarg, the tribe's priest to Almighty Bob. Other residents of the village include Kirp, a fisher, Grarp the Baker, Strinder the Tool Maker, and Drimple the Sandwich Maker's apprentice. The planet is also home to Perfectly Normal Beasts and Pikka Birds. The complete story is found in the novel Mostly Harmless.
They are sentient beings that live on planet Magrathea. In the past during the time of the Galactic Empire, they created and sold custom-built planets to rich customers.
The most notable Magrathean is a planet designer named Slartibartfast, who appears as a minor character in the first book and plays a more significant role in the third, 'Life, the Universe, and Everything.
In the first book, it is revealed that the entire race has been asleep waiting for the galaxy's economy to improve, but were awakened prematurely to rebuild the Earth after its destruction by Vogons.
They are the race who built the original Earth, at the request of the Mice.
Mice are the physical projections into our dimension of a race of superintelligent pan-dimensional beings who ordered construction of the Earth to discover the Question to the Ultimate Answer of Life, the Universe, and Everything. Thus, they are the most intelligent life form on that planet, contrary to what humans thought.
In their home dimension, a popular pastime is Brockian Ultra-Cricket, an awfully violent game which involves hitting people for no readily apparent reason and then running away, before apologizing from some distance – often through a megaphone. Nevertheless, it is 100% unrelated except in name to the Earth sport of cricket.
Natives to the small forest world of Oglaroon, Oglaroonians have taken what is a fairly universal trait among sentient species (to cope with the sheer infinite vastness of the universe by simply ignoring it) to its ultimate extreme. Despite the entire planet being habitable, Oglaroonians have managed to confine their global population to one small nut tree, in which they compose poetry, create art, and somehow fight wars. The consensus among those in power that any trees one might observe from the outer branches are merely hallucinations brought on by eating too many oglanuts, and anyone who thinks differently is hurled out of the tree, presumably to his death.
An exceptionally pessimistic race from the star system of Pansel. Due to the Heart of Gold's Infinite Improbability Drive causing a wave of improbability when passing through the system, two-hundred and thirty-nine thousand lightly fried eggs landed on the surface of their home planet, unfortunately too late to save the vast majority, who had already succumbed to famine, though one did manage to survive for two further weeks, before dying of cholesterol poisoning.
From the Royal World Estate of Quarlvista, where there was famine, the king has died, and the whole population had gone on a three-year holiday and, hence, a planet that has reached "one whole joo-joo-flop situation". From Fit the Tenth of the radio series
The Shaltanacs are a race from the planet Broop Kidron Thirteen, who had their own version of the Earth phrase, "The other man's grass is always greener." Although, given their planet's horticultural peculiarities, theirs was,
The other Shaltanac's joopleberry shrub
is always a more mauve-y shade of pinky russet
and so, the expression fell into disuse, and the Shaltanacs found they had little choice but to become exceptionally happy and content with their lot, which surprised everyone else in the galaxy, who had not realised that the best way not to be unhappy is not to have a word for it.
Silastic Armourfiends of Striterax
The best way to pick a fight with a Silastic Armorfiend was just to be born. They didn't like it, they got resentful. And when an Armorfiend got resentful, someone got hurt. An exhausting way of life, one might think, but they did seem to have an awful lot of energy.
The Silastic Armourfiends were an insanely aggressive race who lived on the planet Striterax approximately twenty billion years ago "when the universe was young". They were extremely keen on fighting – one of the best ways to deal with a Silastic Armourfiend was to lock him in a room by himself, since he would beat himself up sooner or later. They wrecked the surface of their planet in constant wars, and the whole population lived within bunkers deep below the surface.
In an attempt to deal with the problems their violent nature created, the Silastic Armourfiends passed a law that anybody who had to carry a weapon as part of their normal work (including policemen, security guards and primary school teachers) must spend a minimum of 45 minutes each day punching a sack of potatoes. It was hoped that this would allow them to work off their surplus aggression. This plan worked only until someone had the idea to simply shoot the potatoes (leading to the shooting of many things), and the Silastic Armourfiends were excited about their "first war for weeks."
During one of their more unpleasant wars, the Silastic Armourfiends asked the great computer Hactar to design the ultimate weapon for them. When Hactar asked what they meant by "ultimate", they responded "Read a bloody dictionary" before jumping back into the fray. The computer complied, creating a hand-held bomb which would connect the core of every major sun via hyperspace, destroying the entire universe. The Silastic Armorfiends attempted to use the bomb to blow up a munitions dump, but fortunately Hactar, shocked by the idea (the first to be able to do so) and unable to conceive of any occasion when the use of the real thing would be justified, introduced a small flaw in the weapon to prevent it from going off, hoping it would be glossed over after sober reflection. The Silastic Armourfiends disagreed with this reasoning, and pulverised Hactar, before thinking better of it and destroying the faulty bomb as well.
Eventually, after smashing the hell out of the Strenuous Garfighters of Stug and the Strangulous Stilletans of Jajazikstack, the Silastic Armourfiends found an entirely new way of blowing themselves up, which was of great relief to the Garfighters, the Stilletans, and the potatoes.
Strangulous Stilettans of Jajazikstak
An enemy of the Silastic Armourfiends of Striterax.
Strenuous Garfighters of Stug
An enemy of the Silastic Armourfiends of Striterax.
These are kinds of fictional animals as described by Douglas Adams in his "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" series of novels.
The tooth of an Algolian Suntiger is part of the mix for a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. It "spreads the fires of the Algolian suns deep into the heart of the drink." Other than that, not much is said.
Ameglian Major Cows
See Dish of the Day (cow).
There is a running joke of things with the name Arcturian Mega-, including Arcturan Mega-gin (part of a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster), Arcturan megafreighters (bulky trade carriers) and:
An animal featured in the proverb "to talk all four legs off an Arcturian MegaDonkey", and also served grated at a dinner on the planet Magrathea.
A creature from Kakrafoon. It is mentioned during a description of the many uses of towels whereby you can "huddle beneath it for protection against the Arcturian Megagnats under the stars of Kakrafoon."
Arcturan Megaleech attaches itself to its victim before biting his head off and making off with his spaceship
Ford was once "ankle high to an Arcturan Megagrasshopper" when told dark stories of deep space craft infested with demons or the ghosts of forgotten crews.
The Starship Titanic was described as "beached like a silver Arcturan Megavoidwhale amongst the laserlit tracery of its construction gantries".
The Babel fish is small, yellow, leech-like - and probably the oddest thing in the universe. It feeds on brain wave energy, absorbing all unconscious frequencies and then excreting telepathically a matrix formed from the conscious frequencies and nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain, the practical upshot of which is that if you stick one in your ear, you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language: the speech you hear decodes the brain wave matrix.
It is a universal translator that neatly crosses the language divide between any species. The book points out that the Babel fish could not possibly have developed naturally, and therefore it both proves and disproves the existence of God:
Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mindbogglingly useful could evolve purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God. The argument goes something like this:
- "I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."
- "But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED."
- "Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
- "Oh, that was easy," says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white, and gets killed on the next zebra crossing.
Most leading theologians claim that this argument is a load of dingo's kidneys. But this did not stop Oolon Colluphid making a small fortune when he used it as the central theme for his best selling book, Well That About Wraps It Up for God. Meanwhile the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different cultures and races, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.
The Boghog is the only native animal of planet NowWhat, "all other having long ago died of despair".
Boghogs are tiny, vicious creatures with unaccountably thin and leaky skins. Boghog meat is almost completely inedible and is the primary source of food for the settlers on NowWhat.
The language of the boghogs consists of biting each other very hard on the thigh and thus was never learned by anybody else.
Damogran Frond Crested Eagle
A Damogran Frond Crested Eagle inhabits Damogran, a planet covered almost entirely by ocean except for a few small islands where Zaphod Beeblebrox steals the Heart of Gold. A Damogran Frond Crested Eagle incorporated the first two pages of Zaphod Beeblebrox's speech into its nest, which it built out of papier mâché, and "was virtually impossible for a newly hatched baby eagle to break out of." Apparently the Eagle had heard of survival of the species and wanted nothing to do with it.
At the beginning of the radio series The Quandary Phase, the voice of The Book describes any attempts to appeal to the better nature of the Vogons as "flogging a dead Equinusian packbeast." Director Dirk Maggs answered that this expression can be read as either referring to a horse (Latin name Equus caballus), or a separate horse-like alien species, or both.
Fallian albino marsh worm
The Fallian albino marsh worm spends its life absorbing hallucinogenic gas from the marshes of Fallia. After it dies, it turns into a stiffish, cigarette-like object. Hitchhikers call these joysticks.
- One puff and you feel blissfully happy. Love everybody, forgive your enemies, all that stuff.
- Two puffs will make you curious about just about everything, including the horrible death that is probably coming your way for you to have lit this baby in the first place. "This is going to be great," you tell yourself. "I am about to experience an energy shift to a new plane of existence. What will it be like? Will I make new friends? Do they have beer?"
- After the third puff, your brain explodes and you feel a little peckish.
From the novel And Another Thing...
Fuolornis Fire Dragon
A majestic creature that, despite having breath like a rocket booster and teeth like a park fence, was revered in the land of Brequinda for the mystifyingly sexy way in which it flew about the fragrant night skies, along with their tendency to bite anybody who didn't revere them. So sexy were the dragons that they would induce mass exodus to private quarters when crossing the full moon. Although generally peaceful, they nonetheless managed to bite and burn other people quite a bit; behaviour which led eventually to their extinction and use in making hamburgers. The most current edition of the Guide has yet to mention this crucial fact, much to the disappointment of hitchhikers. Also according to the Guide, most of Brequinda now seems to contain restaurants selling the dragon meat burgers, possibly indicating that some find the meat tasty.
Flaybooz are small, gerbil-like creatures. Though flaybooz have no ears, they are extremely sensitive to vibration and can actually explode in extreme circumstances. Thor, the Asgardian and sometime rock god, held the record for spontaneous flaybooz detonation when he debuted his new tune “You Wanna Get Hammered?” from a chariot in orbit around Sqornshellous Delta. The record had previously been held by intergalactic rock stars Disaster Area, who dropped a speaker bomb into a volcano crater where the flaybooz were enjoying a static electricity festival.
Contrary to an almost universal norm, it is the male flaybooz who nurtures the young. A full-grown flaybooz can fit up to fifty young in his pouch, but generally there is only room for a couple, as males like to carry around a small tool kit in case of emergencies, maybe a few beers, and a copy of Furballs Quarterly. From the novel And Another Thing....
Greater Drubbered Wintwock
According to the novel Mostly Harmless, these were once found on the planet Stegbartle Major in the Constellation Fraz and are now extinct.
Mattresses are friendly, dim-witted, docile creatures capable of speech. They are all called Zem and live in the swamps of Sqornshellous Zeta. Many of them are slaughtered, dried out, and shipped around the Galaxy to be slept on by grateful customers, though they do not appear to mind this, one noting that since they are all called Zem they never know which of them have been killed anyway. Their main appearance is in Life, the Universe and Everything when a particular mattress (called Zem, like the rest) has a chapter-long conversation with Marvin.
Many of the movements they make or sounds they produce, such as gupping, willomying and flolloping, are so unique that etymologists have driven themselves half-insane tracking down new words for them. Words associated mainly/only with them include:
- Flollop (v.)
- Flurble (v./n.)
- Flur (v.)
- Floopy (adj.)
- Globber* (v.)
- Glurry (v.)
- Gup (v.)
- Lurgle (v.)
- Quirrule (v.)
- Vollue (v.)
- Voon (interj.)
- Willomy (v.)
- Wurf (v.)
- * Globber can also, according to the Ultra-Complete Maximegalon Dictionary of Every Language Ever, mean the noise made by the Lord High Sanvalvwag of Hollop on discovering that he has forgotten his wife's birthday for the second year running. Since there was only ever one Lord High Sanvalvwag of Hollop and he never married, the word is only used in a negative or speculative sense, and there is an ever-increasing body of opinion that holds that the Ultra-Complete Maximegalon Dictionary is not worth the fleet of trucks it takes to cart its microstored edition around in.
The dictionaries mentioned in Life, the Universe and Everything which include definitions for these words are the Ultra-Complete Maximegalon Dictionary (also called the Ultra-Complete Maximegalon Dictionary of Every Language Ever) and Sqornshellous Swamptalk.
Perfectly Normal Beast
The Perfectly Normal Beasts are a species that migrate across the Anhondo Plain on Lamuella twice a year (one direction in the spring then back again in the autumn). The migration takes about 8 to 9 days during which time they form a solid mass. They disappear into thin air at one end of the plain, then appear again at the other. They are called Perfectly Normal Beasts because naming them normalizes the event of their migration and keeps people from worrying about its cause. It is likely that the Domain of the King was built to take advantage of this odd, mile-wide gap in the bi-yearly migration, situated as it is on a rather nice stretch of land that would otherwise be badly trampled every now and then (or, the space-time warp was specifically manipulated by the Domain's original builder as a matter of convenience).
The local Lamuellans capture the beasts and kill them for their meat. The method uses similar techniques to a matador but also requires use of the Pikka Birds to get their attention. The best of the meat is eaten straight away while the rest is salted and stored for consumption until the next migration. It was consumed on its own until the arrival of the Sandwich Maker and is now always placed between two slices of bread.
The Pikka Birds are birds native to Lamuella. They are known for being surprised by ordinary everyday objects and events such as the sun rising but completely ignoring unusual events such as spaceships landing. They are accustomed to staring blankly at a few anonymous atoms in the middle of the air. They are also used to attract Perfectly Normal Beasts. According to Arthur Dent's description of them in the radio series The Quintessential Phase and the novel Mostly Harmless, their eggs make rather a good omelette. On his first encounter with a Pikka Bird, Ford Prefect is disturbed by its physical similarity to the bird-shape taken by the sentient Guide Mark II.
(Pica pica is the Latin name for the magpie).
Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
The Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal is a ferociously dangerous creature that hails from the planet of Traal, and will eat anything, especially Vogon grandmothers (which Vogons won't save without orders "signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public inquiry, lost again and finally buried in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighters"). To deal with a beast, one should wrap a towel around one's own head. This creature is so mind-bogglingly stupid that it assumes that if one cannot see it, then it cannot see said person. Despite this, the Guide did state, erroneously, that "ravenous Bugblatter beasts often make a very good meal for (rather than of) visiting tourists" in its article on the planet Traal. This led to deaths of those who took it literally. The Guide's editors avoided lawsuit by summoning a poet to testify under oath that beauty was truth, truth beauty, and therefore prove that their claim, the nicer one, must be true. This led to life itself being held in contempt of court for being neither beautiful nor true, and subsequently being removed from all those present at the trial.
In the computer game The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the Bugblatter Beast asks its victims their names before killing them, and carves the names on a memorial outside its cave. The game also describes the Beast as having Lasero-Zap eyes, Swivel-Shear Teeth, and several dozen tungsten carbide Vast Pain claws forged in the sun furnaces of Zangrijad, all implying that it is a cyborg.
According to the radio scripts, the Beast's eyes can turn red, green, then a sort of mauvy pink.
In the 2005 movie The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the Guide has an entry on what to do if you face certain, unavoidable death at the claws of a Bugblatter Beast: the same method for "What to do if you find yourself trapped beneath a large boulder with no means of escape" from Fit the Eighth of the radio series. The entry is this: "Consider how lucky you are that life has been good to you so far. Alternatively, if life hasn't been good to you so far, which given your current circumstances seems more likely, consider how lucky you are that it won't be troubling you much longer."
In the movie, the Vogons apparently have a Bugblatter Beast trapped inside a metal box, about the size of a shipping container. The Beast is never seen (apart from a large green eye), but the box is continually shaking back and forth. The Vogons use it to execute people who are convicted of crimes such as kidnapping the President, and as such Trillian was nearly fed to it.
Scintillating Jeweled Scuttling Crabs
Scintillating Jeweled Scuttling Crabs live on the planet Vogsphere, the Vogons' homeworld. Vogons eat the crabs, "smashing their shells open with iron mallets." They cook the crabmeat with the native trees. Although the Vogons migrated to the Megabrantis Cluster, the political hub of the Galaxy, every year the Vogons import twenty-seven thousand scintillating jeweled scuttling crabs from Vogsphere and "while away a drunken night smashing them to bits with iron mallets." Several appear in the film, with the Vogons smashing them for no reason in particular apart from the pleasure of killing something.
On the planet Allosimanius Syneca you need a team of Syneca Snowhounds to reach the Ice Crystal Pyramids of Sastantua to see the Stin Glacier Fields, and the shimmering Prism Mountains (from the novel Life, the Universe and Everything).
Little is known about Vegan Rhinos. They are mentioned once in The Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy when, while having dinner on Magrathea, Zaphod asks Arthur to "try some Vegan Rhino's cutlet. It's delicious if you happen to like that sort of thing"
Vogon Slapsticks are odd creatures from the 2005 movie The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. They originated, most likely, on the planet Vogsphere. In shape they look like rust-brown poles stuck into the ground with a rectangle on top, sometimes having a hand print inside it. Ford Prefect pulled one out of the ground, causing it to squeal in a high pitched frequency. It escaped Ford's towel and then slithered into the ground. They smack anyone who thinks or has an idea - thus accounting for the squashed appearance of the movie's Vogons and their lack of imagination - then disappear back into the ground. Their name originates from slapstick comedy, which involves exaggerated physical violence.
These are kinds of fictional plants as described by Douglas Adams in his "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" series of novels and in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy game.
While not, strictly speaking, flora by itself, four bits of fluff collected in the computer game The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy can be made to grow into a fruit-bearing tree. The fruit gives its eater a glimpse of future foresight (necessary for winning said game).
A mauvey pink russet plant from planet Broop Kidron Thirteen. It is the basis for the no longer used Shaltanac phrase, "the other Shaltanac's joopleberry shrub is always a more mauvey shade of pinky russet."
Ratchet Screwdriver Fruit
A bizarre crop with an unusual life-cycle. Once picked, the fruit must be kept in a dark, dusty drawer for several years, after which time the outer skin crumbles to dust leaving an unidentifiable metal object with screw-holes and various ridges and flanges. This object will inevitably get thrown away when discovered. There is general uncertainty as to the evolutionary benefits of this behaviour to the ratchet screwdriver species as a whole.
- From episode 5 of the TV series.
- Adams, Douglas 'Life, the Universe, and Everything', p.12
- Adams, Douglas, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe pp.154-155
- Adams, Douglas, Life, the Universe, and Everything p.12
- "Silastic Armorfiends of Striterax". The HHG Project. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- "Hactar". The HHG Project. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Fit the First BBC Radio 4 program, broadcast 8 March 1978
- Babel Fish – Cult – Hitchhiker's – Guide, BBC Online.
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