With apologies to Douglas Adams
It has been remarked by members of a certain bipedal species that The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – despite being an indispensable repository of occasionally accurate knowledge for the intergalactic traveller – is somewhat terse on the subject of Planet Earth: “Mostly harmless” wrote the contribution’s author, Ford Prefect, after just fifteen years of research.
Seasoned observers of the Guide have commented that it’s what Ford Prefect did not say that is most illuminating – specifically, the unqualified exceptions to the word “mostly”.
Some scholars have suggested that, if only one knew where to look, the brusque entry would reveal hidden dimensions, containing a plethora of useful information about the types of harm one might encounter on Earth. Those more au fait with Ford Prefect’s work ethic consider that these scholars are misguided buffoons. Doctor Grizzlybald Spintlepook, Visiting Professor of Hyper-Cultural Awareness at Tau Ceti University, points out that Ford Prefect “could no more hide important information in a pan-dimensional footnote than he could paint a convincing forgery of da Vinci’s La Giaconda with his rectum.”
Spintlepook, it should be noted, spent many of his formative graduate years sinking Pan-Galactic Gargleblasters in the company of Ford Prefect, so it is understandable that he developed a jaundiced view of his fellow student. Of his four livers, one alone survived the alcoholic onslaught – and only then by pretending to be a Rigelian sand weasel on vacation in Spintlepook’s renal system.
As it happens, both sides of the argument had it wrong. Ford Prefect had made extensive notes on how to have fun on Earth, with a lengthy side glance at some of the dangers. His editors, however, who clearly favoured brevity as the soul of wit, pruned it back to just the two, albeit pithy, words.
Zarniwoop, one-time president of Megadodo Publications, reminisced in his autobiography, Megadodo Man, that his editors had striven to reduce it to just one word, but had failed to agree whether that word should be “mostly” or “harmless”. “In any event,” he observed, “the whole thing was rendered pointless when the Earth was demolished by Vogons, to make room for a hyperspace bypass.”
A series of shenanigans involving, among other things, the Infinite Improbability Drive led eventually to a restoration of Ford Prefect’s original work and the surprise appearance of another Earth. Insofar as the Guide was ever a truly accurate resource, it now remains the only link between the Earths, old and new. It may, or may not, contain useful insights into the human condition, and it may, or may not, throw new light through old windows. In a nutshell, it is business very much as usual for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
It is in this spirit of uncertainty, therefore, that we delve once more into The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to see what it has to say on the subject of Donald J. Trump.
Trump, Donald J.
There are certain things that humans generally consider inexplicable: a complete theory of quantum mechanics; the true nature of God; the enduring popularity of American-style bacon.
Along with these imponderables must be included the continuing success of the life-form known as Donald J. Trump. With no discernible intelligence or ability, he has risen to unimagined heights: TV star, property magnate and plutocrat. Some have suggested that he might one day run for President of America and be successful, against all logic.
From a galactic perspective, these things are impenetrable to humans in much the same way that the success of humankind is impenetrable to more evolved and sensitive beings. It is an ironic fact that humans are generally considered the Donald J. Trumps of the universe. “How are they even still alive?” goes the whisper around the more erudite circles of galactic society. “How does a species so fundamentally stupid that it still thinks digital watches are a pretty neat idea even get out of bed in the morning without tripping over the dog and killing itself?”
A symposium was put together by some of the universe’s leading universities to contemplate this very question. Learned scientists – including some super-intelligent mice – put together a raft of virtual experiments. However, in each and every scenario, the virtual civilisation always destroyed itself in new and generally interesting ways. The researchers knew they were missing something important, but no one could put an appendage on what.
Then, one morning, the huge doors of the main debating chamber were thrown open to reveal an old, ragged man in old, ragged clothes. The scientists were in uproar at this unwanted intrusion, until someone recognised the man as one of their own, a scientist who had gone missing in the very early days of the symposium when an entire experimental Earth had literally vanished into the space-time continuum without so much as a by-your-leave. Now, as he staggered down the aisle amid his shocked colleagues, the chamber fell into an apprehensive silence.
Ranzelman Gnathobdel spoke.
“My friends and learned colleagues,” he quavered, “I am returned, miraculously, from the brink. As you know, I was lead researcher on the simulation known as Earth Eight.”
There was a hesitant stirring among the assembled scientists. The babel fishes in their ears were feeding back a horrid screech, beneath which it was difficult to pick out exactly what Gnatobdel was saying.
Here is what they heard:
“Greetings everyone! I am bigly pleased to be here! It’s been years since I went on holiday and I’ve had a blast!”
The untranslated Gnathobdel continued: “The last thing I remember was turning the dial of the Infinite Luck Generator to maximum before switching on the system…”
The scientists heard:
“I beg and implore you to send me back to Earth, where I am anxious to make it great again!”
“At that exact moment, it appears we intersected with some form of Improbability Drive and were transported clear across the universe. We should all have been killed, but I can only assume the Infinite Luck Generator kept us safe, for, no matter what happened after that – be it asteroid collisions, wars, plagues, the rise of idiot dictators, the proliferation of nuclear weapons – none of it made any difference. We kept on surviving. Ridiculously, but with absolute certainty! Ladies and gentlemen, friends and fellow scientists, I know without a scintilla of a doubt what happened to make humans so impervious to unkind fate. And, trust me, we have to find a way to stop them before it is too late! Please, somebody! Please help me! Help me stop them before they take over the entire universe with their wretched good fortune!”
“My name is Donald J. Trump and one day I will be President of the entire Universe!”
After much scratching of heads and great debate the symposium decided to abide by the avowed wishes of the weird man. The symposium itself was wound up as inconclusive and the budget it saved was turned over to Donald J. Trump’s travel and upkeep. He was sent back to Earth to continue his great work with the humans. No matter how he protested, all people heard was exactly what the luckiest man in the entire universe did not want them to hear.
He is still there, and doing very well, to his continuing despair.