Report on GOLGAFRINCHAM B3-1
This is another guest article by Graeme No3, one of our regular contributing writers. Like all good satire, it gets uncomfortably close to the underlying reality. The names of people mentioned in it have been changed to protect the guilty, but see how many you can pick out …
To: Director Intergalactic Traffic
From: JZaxolotl BINA
Reference: Project – planning – 124/56/3016
Status: Final Survey B1-B5
References: Personnel file JSR- GB – 10249
Survey of Exiles in Golgafrincham B galaxy
Brief History of the Golgafrincham Project – Arthur Dent
I proceeded to Golgafrincham B3-1 as authorised and made contact with Dr. Sloane who has been conducting an ethnological survey of this planet for the last 10 years, and received a warm welcome. I, in turn, was delighted to meet the legendary ’Ranger’ Sloane, who has spent 50 years on obscure planets observing primitive but sentient life forms. He made me as comfortable as possible and was an enormous help to me in my survey.
Golgafrincham B3-1 is the only planet orbiting the B3 star in the small, obscure cluster of stars known as the Golgafrincham archipelago. B3-1 is a medium size rocky planet that circles its sun in an almost circular orbit, and this with its lack of planetary tilt means that seasonal changes are minimal. 2 small moons circle the planet on opposite sides so only one is visible at any time from a site on the surface. All the land is joined in one continent, called by the inhabitants Pangea, but the reason for this name is unknown.
Because of the relative closeness to its sun, the climate is tropical over much of the entire area of the continent, except for a small central desert area in the lee of the mountain range which runs N-S nearly the whole way across the land. There is evidence of geological activity in the numerous hot water springs that are spread out across the continent, and which the natives make use of, and a small volcano at the southern end of the mountain range. Islands near the two poles are occasionally covered in snow, but this melts rapidly. Dr. Sloane cautioned me not to mention this to the inhabitants as the thought of snow melting would bring on a mass panic attack, something to which the inhabitants are very prone.
Mineral deposits are few although a large deposit of copper ores is located on the mountainous edge of the desert, but the inhabitants only use it occasionally as a source of blue and green pigments. They are very backward and rely mostly on stone tools. A few knives are still available, usually in the hands of the chieftains which probably resulted from native women trading favours with the salt fish poachers of Euphonium. This must have occurred before the J-class nova that ended this illegal trade. The inhabitants make little use of the sea for food, apart from collecting shellfish, a little seaweed and the occasional crustacean trapped in tidal pools.
The planets of this small star cluster were selected for the deportation of tens of thousands of members of a troublesome sect that tried, and came close, to seizing power on Earth. Those planets judged inhabitable were selected as the destinations for a number of spaceships, carrying roughly 10,000 each. Most of the spaceships made a successful voyage, although one crashed into its sun for some unknown reason. 2 of the colonies founded failed – in one case because they were eaten by the native vegetation. The reason for the collapse of the other is unknown, but during the last radio contact with the dying they claimed that they had contracted a deadly plague from “telephone handsets” (meaning unknown). The planet was declared dangerous and landing has been forbidden to this day.
All surviving colonies are considered degenerate and primitive. Dr. Sloane chose to investigate this one as an example of social collapse. He reports that there are many tribes, which continually bicker between each other, and all share a primitive life style with some common beliefs. All share a fear of fire, and the only way they can cook food is to immerse it in the hot water springs, so such a spring is always at the centre of each tribal area. All tribes believe in a “great god” or “creator” called Algore, but there are differences as to how he is perceived. They all accept the existence of an evil spirit called The BillNeye (or DillNeye or PillNeye in some dialects) which assures travellers that their way ahead is safe so luring them into danger. Such superstitions make them very mistrustful of strangers.
The mountain range roughly in the centre of Pangea is inhabited by the Wadhams tribe. They are cave dwellers who subsist on nuts, fruits, yams, insects and the occasional reptile. While they worship the Great God Algore, whom they see as a remote and benevolent being, their daily life is dominated by the fear of ‘the oil giants’. These are vengeful creatures who can strike down people with lightning bolts during storms – hence the cave dwellings – and blow people off hill paths with strong winds.
The Huhnitics live on the plains and spend their spare time constructing tall wooden towers which they decorate with a revolving device painted in various colours. These usually collapse in a matter of weeks but this doesn’t dishearten them.
The Nay Oh Mees live in the forests eating lots of fruit and berries, including several species with narcotic effects. Algore is ‘the great ancestor’ of their tribe but they elect a Virgin of the Westwood to rule them. This post always goes to the eldest and ugliest hag available. Years of indulgence in those narcotics results in a leader babbling incoherent nonsense which the Nay Oh Mees repeat to each other as divine prophecies.
The Obamaprats also worship Algore but he is thought of as secondary to the “great prophet POTUS” who daily battles with the forces of darkness called the Congress. He is aided by two sprites known as the Kerry and the Eepee’ay.
The Gavins are the traditional rubbish collectors (and eaters). They are considered by other tribes as untrustworthy liars. The local phrase “something that only a Gavin would swallow” Dr. Sloane translates as “something from/through the mouth which gives/causes great shits”.
The Winnuttis live on the best and most fertile land to the west of the continent. Algore is a remote figure who can only be invoked with the help of the Great Charley and his consort The Tampon. The other side is represented by The Farage, a spirit which confuses people with evil ideas, causing them to reject the way of righteousness.
All tribes supposedly observe abstinence from meat but animal meat is much prized and sought after, and there is much poaching of other tribal lands. Every year this activity becomes such a nuisance that the tribes all assemble for a Conference on Poaching and reach an agreement limiting what every tribe can take. Dr. Sloane told me that these are held every year at the time of the Monkey Moon but he has been unable to link this name with any orbital timing, nor is there any native animal known or resembling a monkey. Every tribal chief attends and much stress is placed on having masses of their subjects there as well. The result is noise and confusion as rumours circulate and there is much posturing about negotiations.
The approach of the Monkey Moon is heralded by the ceremony of Rejection of the Lomborg. This is a figure made of straw which is circulated from tribe to tribe, all of whom hold noisy meetings at which they heap insults on it, beat it with sticks and declare it unwanted in their territory. Once it has been rejected by all tribes it is thrown into the only volcano.
This ceremony also stimulates the Nay Oh Mees to prepare large quantities of Hashi. This is a drug fed to all attendees at the Conference and causes them to become excited, irrational and able to go without sleep for a week at a time. The manufacture of this drug is a secret known only to the Nay Oh Mee tribe. Dr. Sloane thinks from its appearance and smell, that female members of the tribe eat excessive quantities of the hallucinatory berries and excrete the surplus in their urine, which is then boiled down to a syrup which is eagerly sought after by attendees at the COP. The drug is graded in ascending order of derangement as the 2 degree grade, the one and a half degree grade, and the 350 grade. Dr. Sloane considers doubtful that those who ingest the last grade ever recover their sanity
The Last COP, as it is known, was the 21st. When I thought that next year’s would be COP22 Dr. Sloane explained that it would be called COP1. Apparently the inhabitants cannot count above 20, which figure they manage with their fingers and toes. 21 is COP20+1. In the past there were arguments about whether any number greater than 21 could exist, so peace was reached by reverting back to the start once COP20+1 is over. The last act of a COP is when the sacred number of the next COP is called out in a loud voice by the Harrabeen, who then declares that the one finished is a great success. As there is no way of knowing who is the real Harrabeen, various attendees claim to be this person and shout continuously this news until they collapse exhausted and are carried home by their tribal members. This practice is called the BeeBeeSi, and Dr. Sloane thinks it was started as a way of confusing the BillNeye or other evil spirits.
As can be seen these people are primitive and degenerate, and have nothing to offer society. Therefore I recommend that the planet should be removed to make way for the Intra-galactic Pathway.
Melting the planet as suggested at the last planning meeting would require much of the Interstellar Navy, considerable expense and some criticism and unfavourable publicity from the EPIS (every planet is sacred) Church.
One solution would be to install a naval ion propulsion unit in the desert area. It would take a month or two for it to start the planet spiralling in towards the local sun. Once that is achieved a second propulsion unit can be utilised to crash one on the moons on top of the first, removing all traces and leaving a large crater that can be photographed and used as evidence of an asteroid which caused the disaster. Checking the orbit of B3-1 planet in a year will reveal its fate, which should be announced 6 months later at the Intergalactic Science Conference when it will be too late to take any action.
The position of Dr. Sloane has to be resolved. During my stay he was quite nostalgic about his forth coming retirement. As he was borne on the remote planet Earth, returning him there would be expensive, and what must be considered is that he left the Earth during an interglacial and it is back in the grip of another ice age. As he has spent the last 10 years in a tropical climate the contrast is likely to be too much for his aged body to take. There would be adverse comments about our treatment of him. Also he has one of the very old contracts which calls for full salary for 25 LOCAL years to his heir. As his grandsons live on Hydrol 3 we would be paying out for nearly a century of earth years.
He cannot be left on the planet, as he would realise the situation and alert colleagues, leading also to an outcry.
I suggest therefore that to the ion propulsion unit be added a drone, which would be deployed to broadcast a message as the voice of Algore that Dr. Sloane is the real Lomborg. The credulous natives would be panicked into a rapid killing, and would forfeit any sympathy once the news was released. The timing to be determined later, but before the Intergalactic Science Conference so a tribute can be arranged. Possibly some of the money saved on transport and later pension could be used to fund an award in his name to be announced at the Conference.
I was notified of this report by his Excellency who had just been informed of the plunge of planet Golgafrincham B3-1 towards its sun. He expressed his anguish at his old friend Dr. Sloane’s fate, and was adamant that the Imperial Council had never approved, and would never have approved such action. He demanded that JZaxolotl BINA be taken into custody as soon as possible pending a public trial. I proceeded to the planet where JZaxolotl BINA was on leave, but had barely arrived when he died in an air boarding accident along with his new girlfriend, the only witness.
With these deaths there is no way to determine why JZaxolotl BINA took it upon himself to carry out his plan without approval. As a result it was felt that the only action possible was to collect all files, recordings etc. and place them in the Archives for study at some later date.
Jargon Merck – Special Branch, Galactic Police.