Created | Updated Dec 31, 2003
The Golgafrinchans. Fiction: Yes. Invented for personal entertainment by the late Mr. Douglas Adams, but real in the minds of his millions of readers. Let us examine the history of these crazy beings through their past, present, and future (which just so happens to coincide with our past, present, and future. Coincidence? You betcha.)
Golgafrinchan Past: The Horrible Trickery
Over 2,000,005 years ago, the planet Golgafrincham had poets. Here is what The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has to say about these poets:
In all this ancient and mysterious history, the most mysterious figures of all were without a doubt the Great Circling poets of Arium. These Circling Poets used to live in remote mountain passes where they would lie in wait for small bands of unwary travelers, circle around them, and throw rocks at them.
And when the travelers cried out, saying why didn't they go away and get on with writing some poems instead of pestering people with all this rock-throwing business, they would suddenly stop, and then break into one of the seven hundred and ninety-four great Song Cycles of Vassillian. These songs were all of extraordinary beauty, and even more extraordinary length, and all fell into exactly the same pattern.
The first part of each song would tell how there once went forth from the City of Vassillian a party of five sage princes with four horses. The princes, who are of course brave, noble and wise, travel widely in distant lands, fight giant ogres, pursue exotic philosophies, take tea with weird gods and rescue beautiful monsters from ravening princesses before finally announcing that they have achieved enlightenment and that their wanderings are therefore accomplished.
The truly fascinating aspect of Golgafrincham history lies in the descendant of one of these fabled poets. The Guide continues:
The second, and much longer, part of each song would then tell of all their bickerings about which one of them is going to have to walk back.
All this lay in the planet's remote past. It was, however, a descendant of one of these eccentric poets who invented the spurious tales of impending doom which enabled the people of Golgafrincham to rid themselves of an entire useless third of their population.
Yes, The Golgafrinchans sent off their middle-class persons; telephone sanitizers, hairdressers, jingle writers, accountants, etc. In other words, all those who either weren't extremely rich, or didn't do any sort of real work at all. They took off in the Golgafrincham Ark Fleet, Ship B ('B' Ark). The Golgafrinchans had fed these poor unsuspecting people crazy lies as to why they all must leave the planet. "It's going to crash into the sun!" "The moon is going to crash into us!" "The entire planet is in imminent danger of being eaten by an enormous mutant star goat!" And of course, the middle-class Golgafrinchans believed them. So they set off, completely unaware that the rest of the population was not following them, and began their five-year journey.
Golgafrinchan Present: The Plot Thickens
Alright. To clarify, this isn't exactly the Golgafrinchian present, it's merely a continuation of their past (according to my outline) but saying "Past, continuation-of-the-story, and Future" would sound really stupid, so Present it is!
The middle-class Golgafrinchans, aside from their hard-working guards and captain, were kept in cryogenic freezing sarcophagi until their arrival. They were, of course, let out every once and a while for a brisk jog and nice meal.
Promptly five years after their unfortunate departure, the Golgafrinchans crash-landed on what was--unknown to them--2,000,000 years prehistoric Earth. The ones who soon found this out were Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect, but they are not the concern of this entry. The kind-hearted if not mind-numblingly stupid people of Golgafrincham soon made this place their home.
Unbenownst to these young earth dwellers, the cruel people they left behind on Golgafrincham "stayed firmly at home and lived full, rich and happy lives until they were all suddenly wiped out by a virulent disease contracted from a dirty telephone." Yes, it seems that fate dealt a deserving hand to the rich and hard-working folk of planet Golgafrincham.
Golgafrinchan Future: That's odd...Sounds Kind of Like Our Future
What two galaxy hitchhikers soon came to discover, after contact with what they assumed was humanity's predecessor, was that they were indeed not that at all. These so-called 'cave men' (who incidentally lived in huts, not caves) began dying out after the crash landing of The Golgafrinchans, and thus it is concluded that all of humanity evolved from the Golgafrinchans themselves. Yes, every single person alive today evolved from middle-class useless twits. Warms your heart.
The Golgafrinchans were not an alltogether unproductive people, however. They set right to work holding Committee Meetings (wherein nothing was accomplished) but holding them none the less. The standard 'leaf' was adopted as Legal Tender, but when bath-loving Golgafrinchan captain realized what an overabundance of leaves there were, orders were made immediately to have most of the forests burned down. Guards set to work on this at once, glad to finally have some importance in their lives other than declaring war on uninhabited pieces of land and interrogating various gazelle. Did the Hairdressers' Fire Developement Subcommittee invent fire? No! They did however come to a (semi-un)conclusive decision as to whether or not people want fire that can be fitted nasally. Yes, this is our people. And so they thrived, on the lush thick lands of ancient earth, completely oblivious to the fact that their race would die out in 2 million years anyway, even though Ford had spent a great deal of energy trying to tell them just this.
The Golgafrinchans are a simple people. Hard working, kind hearted, and always open to new ideas, even though they probably won't understand/use them.
Ballantine Books, 1995.