The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy | Study Guide

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Course Hero. "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Study Guide." Course Hero. 28 Nov. 2016. Web. 26 Sep. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Hitchhikers-Guide-to-the-Galaxy/>.

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Course Hero. (2016, November 28). The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved September 26, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Hitchhikers-Guide-to-the-Galaxy/

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Course Hero. "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Study Guide." November 28, 2016. Accessed September 26, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Hitchhikers-Guide-to-the-Galaxy/.

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Course Hero, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Study Guide," November 28, 2016, accessed September 26, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Hitchhikers-Guide-to-the-Galaxy/.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy | Chapter 12 | Summary

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Summary

Zaphod is listening to a galaxy news bulletin regarding his theft of the new Improbability Drive prototype ship when Trillian interrupts. Using a star map, she points out that Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent were picked up by the Heart of Gold in the same sector in which Zaphod originally picked her up. Picking up the aliens at the exact same point in the whole Universe is just too improbable. To figure out the probability ratio, Zaphod turns to the Sirius Cybernetics Shipboard Computer—a perky, over-helpful device that is almost as irritating as Marvin. Disgusted by its cheeriness, Zaphod decides to figure the odds the hard way, on paper.

He and Trillion know that, from the aliens' (Ford and Arthur's) point of view, the improbability of their rescue was two to the power of two hundred and seventy-six thousand, seven hundred and nine to one against. But what were the odds that they would be tossed out at these exact sector coordinates and that the ship would cross those coordinates just in time? Still unable to finish the calculation, they consult the computer again, which brightly tosses out the random fact that most people's lives are run by telephone numbers. For Trillian, this triggers a thought, and knowing Marvin is on his way to the bridge with the aliens, she asks to view them on the ship's monitor.

Analysis

The connection between the improbability of Ford and Arthur's rescue and a telephone number (established in Chapter 8) resurfaces. This time Trillian is somehow involved, and it seems she is about to recognize one of the new guests—a highly improbable coincidence. The improbabilities are mounting with record speed. As random as the events appear, however, they also seem to fit neatly together. The question is: Why?

The newscast provides insight into the galaxy's reaction to the theft of the Heart of Gold and its general view of Galactic President Zaphod Beeblebrox. The broadcast is surprisingly similar to Earth's version of around-the-clock news, complete with an interview with a so-called expert. The whole thing suggests that news broadcasts are the same throughout time and space.

The newscaster gives a "big hello to all intelligent life forms everywhere," and then flippantly adds "and to everyone else out there, the secret is to bang the rocks together, guys." This is a reference to the most primitive means of producing fire. The rise of civilization has been related to the control of fire, and learning to strike rock on rock to produce a spark was an important first step.

The chapter also introduces another Sirius Cybernetics creation: Eddie, the shipboard computer. Like Marvin, he has been given a Genuine People Personality. Similarly, all the automatic doors have been given a cheerful and sunny disposition. The question is, are they an improvement over a computer or door that just does its job, without personality?

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