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Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

February 15, 2007

Tertiary Phase: Episode 4
BBC Radio 4

Fit the sixteenth
Arthur Dent has been diverted from arriving at the Longest Party Ever Held to find himself in a sinister labyrinth being threatened by a nasty voice through a frankly rather dodgy PA system. This leads him to a subterranean Cathedral of Hate in which a fifty-foot high statue of himself is depicted causing harm to various creatures in hapless ways, such as swatting flies or stepping on ants. It turns out that the organisms that Arthur has inadvertently been killing (and/or eating) throughout his life have all been the same person, reincarnated over and over again, only to be killed – over and over again – by Arthur Dent. Its last, most desperate incarnation, one it had to fight for, and one which gives it a last chance for revenge against his tormentor, is as a four-foot fruitbat with an orthodontic condition. Its name is Agrajag, and even the discovery that it has mis-timed this vendetta (and that Arthur will not die till he reaches a place called Stavromula Beta) will not stop it attempting to kill Arthur Dent. Fortunately for Arthur, Agrajag manages to bring about his own death (yet again), and as the Cathedral collapses about them, Arthur runs into the open air, trips over a boulder – and finds himself flying.

The knack of flying is to throw yourself at the ground and miss, and Arthur is so preoccupied with his problems that he succeeds in carrying off this difficult yet exhilarating feat. He flies just long enough to collide with Ford and Slartibartfast who are clinging to the sides of the Longest Party Ever Held, itself capable of flight thanks to some rather drunken physicists who happened to be invited several generations ago.

Gaining entrance to the Party (thanks to a bottle of retsina which is inside an item of luggage which mysteriously materialised during his practise swoops), Arthur is shocked and not a little jealous to find Trillian in the enormous arms of Thor the Thunder God. An encounter follows with various strange guests, including a woman with a head shaped like the Sydney Opera House and a man who has just won an award which looks suspiciously like a silver cricket bail. This is in fact precisely what it is, as the sudden attack by eleven homicidal Krikkit robots to steal it confirms. As they leave, the Party, now mortally wounded, begins to spiral downward to the planet it has so long ravaged, and Arthur demands that Thor surrender Trillian so they can escape before the inevitable crash. Trillian has been quite enjoying the attentions of a minor Norse deity, but realises Arthur means business when he challenges Thor to step outside to settle the matter. This duly occurs, allowing our friends to depart in pursuit of the Krikkit Robots.

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