Star Trek exists in the Hitchhiker’s Guide Universe

Space is big. You just won’t believe how hugely, vastly, mind-bogglingly big it is.
But space is just 3 dimensions, there is also time, and there is also X. In Star Trek, apart from the usual travels in space and the occasional travels in time, we also have twice seen travels in X: a few visits to the Mirror Universe, and the Kelvinverse. These are not alternate universes, they are dimensions, because an alternate universe is a branching point, and the more time passes after the branch, the greater the deviation will be. Despite several decades after the branching point in the Kelvinverse and several centuries in the Mirror, we still see that the same people are being born, having the same meta-relationships, the same destinies. That implies that these are not separate universes but still fundamentally tied to the Prime. There is a Platonic underlying universe and these are different projections in a lower dimensional space, perhaps.

Having established that there is a dimension X, consider that it is common to H2G2. The Guide Mark II is able to directly manipulate X, even outside the X-unstable ZZ Plural-Z Alpha zones (which contains the Earth, and presumably most of the core federation, which is not coincidentally where most of the X-traveling shenanigans in Star Trek lore occur). Denizens of Plural zones are explicitly warned not to travel by hyperspace because they can be catapulted unpredictably along X, so most of the early galactic civilizations favored warp drive instead of hyperspace jumps. Much of the Second Phase of H2G2 occurs in a different X than the Primary, and we get some exposition about different-X versions of Zaphod in the Tertiary and Arthur in the Quaternary Phases, and Zaphod even managed to make a business model out of it in Hexagonal Phase.

What we know of Galactic history is that about 5 million years ago, and the “about” will become very important in just a moment, there was a Galactic Empire, where “life was wild, rich, and on the whole, tax-free. In those days, spirits were brave; the stakes were high; men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. And all dared to brave unknown terrors to do mighty deeds to boldly split infinitives that no man had split before.” I can think of no better description of the Original Series than this. Of course, there is some distortion, as 5 million years have passed from Kirk’s “men were real men” years and the relatively depressed era of Zaphod and Ford. Magrathea allegedly got its start in this era, as a means for the fabulously ultra-wealthy to spend money on custom planets (implying at least a Kardashev Type II civilization). However, if we allow for the fact that the Golden Age of the former Galactic Empire could span a million years of its own, then Magrathea could well have existed a million years before Kirk and crew. Or much, much longer – because a Type II civilization is not a transient thing.

My theory is that the former Galactic Empire was founded about 4 million years prior to the Zaphod era, and about 3 million years prior to the Kirk era. Lets establish Kirk taking command of the Enterprise in TOS as our zero date: 0 KE (Kirk Era). Dates before this point are BK (Before Kirk). The Zaphod Era (ZE) begins approximately 1M years KE. A few important dates immediately can be established:

2M years BK: Magratheans build Mira’s Earth
2M years BK: Ford and Arthur stranded on prehistoric earth with the Golgafrinchans
1M years BK: Fall of the Galactic Empire.
300 BK: Arthur Dent rescued from the destruction of the Earth by Ford Prefect, who has accidentally traveled 5M years back in time without realizing it.
10,000 KE: the Last Temporal Cold War
1M KE: the Galactic Republic, administered by the Vogon bureacracy, at its peak. This is where most of the canonical story of H2G2 takes place.

There certainly are some problems here. But most of those can be resolved by the fact that the Galactic Republic was notoriously more irresponsible about time travel than even the Federation was during the Temporal Wars (plural). After all, the whole Cathedral of Chalesme fiasco, which led to Slartibartfast’s involvement in the Campaign for Real Time, is evidence aplenty of just how screwed up the timeline became. The vast Dark Age between the Kirk and Zaphod eras was irresistible to tinkering, profiting, and just general screwing around by the various Powers That Be.

Ultimately, a lot of the general wierdness, like Miri’s Earth, Apollo, and whatnot that happened during TOS, not to mention the strange discontinuities around the Enterprise NX-01, which could actually be another poster child for the Campaign for Real Time to protest, can be explained by understanding that Star Trek and H2G2 happened in the same Galaxy – adventures in space, time, and X. I am sure this is a field of potentially rewarding inquiry for other researchers with more procrastination time than myself to pursue.

(for the purposes of this essay, I am treating only the radio scripts of H2G2 as canon. Yes, I am a purist. The book versions, and the regrettable movies and TV shows, can be considered different-X.)

Hexagonal Phase incoming

There isn’t that much new here, but more details on cast, and confirmation that it will based on Eoin Colfer’s fantastic And Another Thing… which I bought as an audiobook because Simon Jones is the narrator – so it’s Arthur as Arthur. I can’t even express the joy I feel when I hear him reprise his role. Hexagonal Phase will be an interesting contrast. In a way I kind of enjoyed Jones’ take on Zaphod in the audiobook more. But it doesn’t matter. I’m obsessed.

Trillian will return, with a new voice actor. And we have a new voice of the Book, too.

Starring alongside Simon will be Geoff McGivern as Ford Prefect, Mark Wing-Davey as Zaphod Beeblebrox and Sandra Dickinson as Trillian, as well as special guest stars including Jane Horrocks as Fenchurch.

Following in the footsteps of the late Peter Jones and William Franklyn, Adams’ friend, co-author and former flatmate John Lloyd will step into the voice of The Book.

image: Fair use, Link

Google’s Douglas Adams Doodle: happy birthday old man

google doodle douglas adams
Google Doodle for Douglas Adams
As my site archives on H2G2 attest, I am something of a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy aficionado – if I had to rate my fandom, H2G2 would stand far above even Star Wars and Star Trek in my personal pantheon.

Click over to Google today (or check out the Doodle Archive page if you are coming late) to see the Doodle in all it’s glory. It’s got the requisite towel, cup of liquid that is exactly but not quite unlike tea, and of course the Guide itself, with “Don’t Panic” written on the front in large, friendly letters. And there’s a touch of Whovian/70’s scifi chic and sound effects to boot. Bonus tip: try actually using the Guide.

Douglas Adams would have been 61 years old today. He was one really, amazingly together guy. He was more than just a hoopy frood; he was so hip he had difficulty seeing over his pelvis. He was so cool you could store a side of beef in him for a month. He deserves not one Google Doodle, but 42 of them.

The Total Perspective Vortex

I am transcribing this segment from The Hitchhiker’s Guide, Secondary Phase, for posterity.

The Total Perspective Votex derives its picture of the whole Universe on the principle of extrapolated matter analyses. To explain, since every piece of matter in the Universe is in some way affected by every other piece of matter in the Universe, it is in theory possible to extrapolate the whole of creation – every sun, every planet, their orbits, their composition, and their economic and social histories – from, say, one small piece of fairy cake.

The man who invented the Total Perspective Vortex did so basically in order to annoy his wife.

Trin Tragula – for that was his name – was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.

And she would nag him incessantly about the utterly inordinate amount of time he spent staring out into space, or mulling over the mechanics of safety pins, or doing spectrographic analyses of pieces of fairy cake.

“Have some sense of proportion!” she would say, sometimes as often as thirty-eight times a day.

And so he built the Total Perspective Vortex, just to show her.

And into one end, he plugged the whole of reality (as extrapolated from a piece of fairy cake), and into the other, he plugged his wife, so that when he turned it on she saw in one instant the whole infinity of creation and herself in relation to it.

To Trin Tragula’s horror, the shock completely annihilated her brain, but to his satisfaction he realized that he had proved once and for all that if life is going to exist in a Universe of this size, then the one thing it cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion.

and I thought the Shoe Event Horizon was satire

apparently, Douglas Adams was on to something:

For months now, consumers have been hunkering down in an economic storm, buying only what they need to survive, like groceries, diapers, medicine — and shoes.

Shoes?

The American public, it would seem, cannot carry on without new shoes. Boots, booties, sneakers, pumps — for the last few months they have all been selling well as the broader economy struggles toward recovery.

… Among the more curious explanations proffered for the relative strength of shoe sales is that women — who make up the lion’s share of the American shoe market — get an emotional lift from shoe shopping in a way they do not when trying on jeans and cocktail dresses.

As a reminder, I actually am enough of a H2G2-geek that i transcribed the entirety of the Shoe Event Horizon bit from the Radio Series a while back. Read it again, and note just how eerily prescient DNA was about this whole thing in light of the excerpted article above.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, part 6 of 3

Um. Er. Hmm. It would seem that there’s a new H2G2 book coming out:

An Englishman’s continuing search through space and time for a decent cup of tea . . .

Arthur Dent’s accidental association with that wholly remarkable book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, has not been entirely without incident.

Arthur has traveled the length, breadth, and depth of known, and unknown, space. He has stumbled forward and backward through time. He has been blown up, reassembled, cruelly imprisoned, horribly released, and colorfully insulted more than is strictly necessary. And of course Arthur Dent has comprehensively failed to grasp the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.

Arthur has finally made it home to Earth, but that does not mean he has escaped his fate.

Arthur’s chances of getting his hands on a decent cuppa have evaporated rapidly, along with all the world’s oceans. For no sooner has he touched down on the planet Earth than he finds out that it is about to be blown up . . . again.

And Another Thing . . . is the rather unexpected, but very welcome, sixth installment of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. It features a pantheon of unemployed gods, everyone’s favorite renegade Galactic President, a lovestruck green alien, an irritating computer, and at least one very large slab of cheese.

It would be easy to go on a rant here about how they are raping Douglas Adams’ legacy, if not for the fact that DNA’s widow herself has blessed the project, not to mention there’s significant precedent (for example the Second Foundation Trilogy written after Asimov’s death, by scifi authors Benford, Bear and Brin). Plus, the long-awaited H2G2 movie was such a horrific waste of time that I think I’m all outraged-out as far as DNA’s legacy goes. I mean, what more could they possibly do? At least in a novel you have relative freedom to actually develop things like plot and whatnot. In a weird way, seeing the new Star Trek movie has also made me more amenable to giving someone else a chance at H2G2. It’s better than having nothing at all, and there’s a reasonable chance that it might even be good.

This is actually old news – the BBC had an article on it last fall, with some more detail on the author:

Eoin Colfer, 43, is best known for the best-selling Artemis Fowl novels.

He said he was “terrified” by the prospect of creating a new Hitchhiker book almost a quarter of a century after being introduced to what he described as a “slice of satirical genius” in his late teens.

‘Pressure’

“My first reaction was semi-outrage that anyone should be allowed to tamper with this incredible series,” he said.

“But on reflection I realised that this is a wonderful opportunity to work with characters I have loved since childhood and give them something of my own voice while holding on to the spirit of Douglas Adams.

“I feel more pressure to perform now than I ever have with my own books,” he said, adding that he was “determined that this will be the best thing I have ever written”.

well, ok then. sigh. please don’t suck, ok? It comes out in October. I guess I could pre-order it… heh. am I pathetic or what?