Kibo's Tribute to Douglas Adams

----Originaly posted to alt.religeon.kibology,

My hastily written, poorly edited, mostly harmless tribute to Douglas 
Adams, who was unfortunately rendered completely harmless yesterday at 
the age of 49.

                                                    -- K.

SO LONG, AND THANKS FOR ALL THE BACON Copyright (C) 2001 James "Kibo" 

Arthur Dent adjusted his tattered bathrobe and tried to remember what 
had happened.  The word "bacon" registered with his mind somehow, but 
he couldn't quite trace where it came from.  Then he remembered.  He 
was the sole survivor of the Earth, which had been demolished by the 
Gorfon Bacon Service, and now here he was on the planet Doodilwumbus 
listening to the two greatest Doodilwumbrian scientists explaining it 
to him.

"So you see," said the first scientist, "The Gorfon fleet had to 
demolish your home planet so they could lay the final bacon pipe to 
connect all the civilised worlds of the Galaxy, enabling everyone to 
have an unlimited supply of delicious bacon from their kitchen 

"But that's silly," said Arthur, "That's a very stupid way to move 

"I believe you had some similar arrangement on your planet, involving 

"Yes, but water was usually liquid on our planet, while bacon, 
correctly-made, is a crispy solid."

"You of Earth know nothing of bacon.  Here, taste this."  The scientist 
turned a knob and a helical spigot dispensed a coil of bacon.  It came 
out so rapidly that it was still rotating after he handed it to Arthur, 
who gladly ate it, as it was the only food he had had since the Earth 
and all its Starbucks blew up.

"Thank-you very much for the bacon," said Arthur with his mouth full.

"I can only hope that, in small part, the knowledge that the Galaxy is 
assured of a steady supply of bacon makes up for the destruction of 
your home planet."

"Oh, yes, very," said Arthur dryly.

"That is good," said the scientist.

"I was being sarcastic.  Back on Earth we had a thing called sarcasm."

"Well, then, I suppose it's just as well that it got blown up with the 
rest of your planet.  You should not fret over the loss of a single 
planet.  Planets get blown up every day!  And while your civilization 
may have been quite pathetic by most any standard, the way in which it 
met its end was not as pathetic as many others.  Let me tell you the 
story of the planet Turpiburf."

Arthur pulled up a two-legged Doodilwumbrian chair and sat as the 
scientist began to rattle on about some planet he hadn't heard of.  He 
checked his digital watch and it was still stuck on "42:42", where it 
had frozen when the Earth exploded.

The scientist solemnly recited, "Turpiburf was an ancient and peaceful 
planet.  However, their civilization met an untimely end through a 
means so pathetic that even the smallest atoms in the Universe would 
demonstrate their sympathy if they could. You see, on Turpiburf, there 
was a writer.  He wasn't the best writer there was.  And his humour was 
funny, but he wasn't the funniest.  But he wrote funny science fiction, 
and he was beloved because his lighthearted prose contained more clever 
science-fiction ideas per square inch than most 'serious' science 
fiction, and  was funnier as well.  People recognised his wit and 
talent even though he was humble enough to try to mask his brilliance 
by giving all his characters names like Pootidootdoot T. Tugboatfoot 
and Doidywugfuggler."

"Doidywugfuggler?  That's the stupidest name I ever heard!"

"It so happens that my parents thought very highly of that name when 
they gave it to me."

"Oh.  What I meant to say was that it is a very fine name and I have 
nothing against people with names of that sort."

"Yes, I am sure you had many friends with silly names on Earth, 
assuming you had any friends before the Earth blew up."

Arthur made a mental note not to ask the other scientist his name.  The 
first scientist said, "If I may continue with my story now, this author 
who wrote amusing science fiction tales was known for peppering his 
stories with terms which would become popular catchphrases across all 
the continents of his world.  He got people to giggle as they said 'So 
long, and thanks for all the fish' to each other, or 'We apologise for 
the inconvenience', 'Oh no, not again!', 'Don't Panic', 'Mostly 
Harmless', or even 'Forty-Two'.  Now, '42' is perhaps the most 
effective meme in the known universe.  It took real literary genius to 
pack an entire virally-transmitted comedy catchphrase into just two 

Arthur checked his watch again.  It said "42:42".  He figured this must 
mean something.

The scientist droned on.  "But what nobody knew was that while this 
author was Xeroxing the first draft of his first manuscript, he was 
also playing with the copy machine, trying to produce a distorted copy 
of his face.  He leaned forward just a little too far, and the glass 
shattered.  He recovered from his injuries after a few weeks and forgot 
about the incident.   However, he did not notice that by inserting his 
head into the copying machine, he had accidentally given it direct 
access to his brain...

"Later that night, in accordance with Her Majesty's government's 
standard procedures, a representative from British Telecom came about 
to collect the microfilm.  All copy machines on the planet Turpiburf 
were designed to store tiny photographs of all the documents they 
copied, and rolls of microfilm were delivered to British Telecom 
headquarters each night.  However, in this case, when the spool of 
microfilm was placed on the Telecom Director's desk, it got knocked 
into the wastebasket while he was chasing his secretary around the 
desk, as he was wont to do.  That wastebasket was then accidentally 
delivered to Eyre Methuen publishing, which printed the author's book.  
Of course, because the copy machine had copied thoughts directly out of 
his brain, the author's work was now tinged with his thoughts.  Every 
copy of his book contained extra-effective catchphrases because there 
was a tiny portion of the author in each copy, and reading them enabled 
his thoughts to take residence in millions of other people's brains."

"How horrible."

"No, actually, it was quite a pleasant experience.  People enjoyed 
reading his eccentric humour, or hearing it on the radio, or seeing it 
on the telly, or being frustrated by it in computer games, and this 
caused a few of the author's thought processes to live on in other 
minds, some of which even went on to infect other people with tawdry 
imitations of his prose.  Be that as it may, the important point is 
that this technological accident increased the potency of the author's 
catchphrases and caused many people to consider the idea of '42' to be 
the most hilarious joke ever created.  Mathematicians, scientists, and 
even lowly waiters were unable to think of the number 42 without 
thinking of the author's wacky stories, so all mathematical and 
scientific progress came to a halt when the people found themselves 
incapable of working with the number 42.  For a time, they tried to 
carry on by restricting themselves to the numbers 1 to 41, but even 
thinking of 41 made people giggle because it was so close to 42.  So 
then they limited themselves to the numbers 40 and under."

"It must have been tragic for those who were having their 42nd 
birthday," said Arthur.

"Not really.  They were painlessly euthanised.  In any case, the 
author's world struggled along gamely, but nothing could be 
accomplished.  Nobody ever had more than 40 quid in the bank. Computers 
were inoperable due to their 40-hertz processors and 40-key keyboards.  
Their civilization withered, collapsed, died, and then exploded.  Today 
there is only a floating cloud of ashes where their planet once was.  
They are forgotten as all records of their existence were destroyed."

"Then, how do you know this story?"

"Oh, the author himself wrote a science fiction story with that very 
premise and posted it on the Whizzella Wacky-Media Trans-Galactic 
Network before he and his planet were obliterated.  Thus, in our modern 
time, everyone knows the sad story of the planet that has been 

"Yes," said the second scientist, speaking up for the first time, "The 
memory of this author will live on forever.  He wasn't the greatest, 
but he was good enough to accidentally destroy his civilization, which 
makes him right important in my way of thinking."

"And what was the name of this author?" asked Arthur.

"You tell him, Doidyfugwuggler," said the second scientist, "as my 
memory seems to be failing."

"Very well," said Doidyfugwuggler.  "The name of the author was--"  But 
he was unable to complete his sentence as a malfunctioning artificially 
intelligent door sealed him into a closet.  All Arthur could hear was 
the door saying "Thank you for letting me mistakenly lock you in the 
closet!" over and over. He turned to the second scientist.

"So what was his name?"

"His name was... you must forgive me, it is hard to remember these 
details due to the time-reversed brain damage I will suffer next year 
when experimenting with time travel... his name was... was...  Oh, 
fiddlesticks.  You'd better just look it up yourself in this library 
computer, which contains all the knowledge of the galaxy."

He tossed what looked like a strip of bacon to Arthur, who was about to 
eat it when he noticed it had tiny push buttons and a little brownish 
screen.  He carefully pushed a few of the buttons and wiped the grease 
off the screen.  "It says that the name of the author was... Douglas 

"What a dull name!" said Fartzonsmurves.

And then a giant mouse ate them.