Vogon

Last updated
Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council tortures Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent with his poetry in the 2005 film The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Vogon poetry2.jpg
Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council tortures Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent with his poetry in the 2005 film The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy .

The Vogons are a fictional alien race from the planet Vogsphere in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy —initially a BBC Radio series by Douglas Adams—who are responsible for the destruction of the Earth, in order to facilitate an intergalactic highway construction project for a hyperspace express route. Vogons are slug-like but vaguely humanoid, are bulkier than humans, and have green skin. Vogons are described as "one of the most unpleasant races in the galaxy—not actually evil, but bad-tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous", and having "as much sex appeal as a road accident" as well as being the authors of "the third worst poetry in the universe". They are employed as the galactic government's bureaucrats. According to Marvin the Paranoid Android, they are also the worst marksmen in the galaxy.

Contents

Description

The Vogons' appearance in the film was partially based on the cartoons of James Gillray. Gillray - John Bull taking a Luncheon.jpg
The Vogons' appearance in the film was partially based on the cartoons of James Gillray.
An animatronic Vogon head, used in the film version of the story. Vogonhead.PNG
An animatronic Vogon head, used in the film version of the story.

Appearance and personality

Guide Description:

Here is what to do if you want to get a lift from a Vogon: forget it. They are one of the most unpleasant races in the Galaxy. Not actually evil, but bad-tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous. They wouldn't even lift a finger to save their own grandmothers from the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal without orders – signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public inquiry, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighters. The best way to get a drink out of a Vogon is to stick your finger down his throat, and the best way to irritate him is to feed his grandmother to the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal. On no account should you allow a Vogon to read poetry at you.

Vogons are roughly human-sized, although much bulkier, with green or grey skin. Their noses are above their eyebrows, which are either ginger (in the television series) or white (in the film). The film's commentary states that the idea behind the high flat noses was that they evolved both the noses and the severe bureaucracy from being repeatedly whacked by the paddle creatures under the sand on Vogsphere whenever they had an independent thought (in the film, the Vogon bureaucracy is centred on Vogsphere). In the radio series it is said that "Their highly domed nose rises above their small piggy forehead".

Garth Jennings deliberately based his conception of the Vogons on the work of cartoonist James Gillray (1757–1815). "His creations were so grotesque...when we looked at them, we realised they were the Vogons". [1]

Origins

The series tells that, far back in prehistory, when the first primeval Vogons crawled out of the sea, evolution gave up on them. Through sheer obstinacy, though, the Vogons survived (partly by adapting a misplaced, badly malformed, and dyspeptic liver into a brain). As the radio show says: "What nature refused to give to them, they did without. Until their myriad anatomical deficiencies could be rectified with surgery. They then emigrated en masse to the MeagaBrantis star cluster (although the film has them staying on Vogsphere), the political hub of the galaxy. They banish the ruling philosophers to the tax office to lick stamps and within a few short Voge years took over pretty much all of the galactic civil service, where they form most of the Galactic bureaucracy, most notably in the Vogon Constructor Fleets (which, despite their name, patrol the galaxy demolishing planets). The only named Vogons in the stories are Jeltz (see below), Kwaltz (who appears in the film), Zarniwoop, revealed to be a Vogon in the Quintessential Phase, and Jeltz's son Constant Mown.

Behaviour

Vogons are described as officiously bureaucratic, a line of work at which they perform so well that the entire galactic bureaucracy is run by them.

On Vogsphere, the Vogons would sit upon very elegant and beautiful gazelle-like creatures, whose backs would snap instantly if the Vogons tried to ride them. The Vogons were perfectly happy with just sitting on them. Another favourite Vogon pastime is to import millions of beautiful jewel-backed scuttling crabs from their native planet, cut down giant trees of breathtaking beauty, and spend a happy drunken night smashing the crabs to bits with iron mallets and cooking the crab meat by burning the trees. In the movie, the Vogons seem to smash the crabs for no apparent reason besides pure pleasure at killing something.

The Vogons' battle-cry, and counter-argument to dissent, is "resistance is useless!" (cf. "Resistance is futile").

Poetry

Jeltz reading poetry at Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect in the television series. Vogon jelzt reading poetry.png
Jeltz reading poetry at Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect in the television series.

Vogon poetry is described as "the third worst poetry in the Universe" behind that of the Azgoths of Kria; four members of an audience died of internal haemorrhaging during a recitation by their poet master Grunthos the Flatulent of his poem "Ode to a Small Lump of Green Putty I Found in My Armpit One Midsummer Morning" while the President of the Mid-Galactic Arts Nobbling Council survived by gnawing one of his own legs off. Grunthos himself was later killed by his own major intestine, which leaped up through his neck and throttled his brain when he attempted to read his twelve-book epic "My Favourite Bathtime Gurgles". Their poetry was also behind that of Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings of Sussex, which was destroyed when the Earth was. The main example used in the story is a short piece composed by Jeltz, which roughly emulates nonsense verse in style (example below). The story relates that listening to it is an experience similar to torture as demonstrated when Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect are forced to listen to the poetry (and say how much they liked it) prior to being thrown out of an airlock.

"Oh freddled gruntbuggly,
Thy micturations are to me
As plurdled gabbleblotchits on a lurgid bee.
Groop, I implore thee, my foonting turlingdromes,
And hooptiously drangle me with crinkly bindlewurdles,
Or I will rend thee in the gobberwarts
With my blurglecruncheon, see if I don't!"

A second example of Vogon poetry is found in the Hitchhiker's Guide interactive fiction game that was produced by Infocom. The first verse is as above; one version of the second verse follows:

"Bleem miserable venchit! Bleem forever mestinglish asunder frapt.
Gashee morphousite, thou expungiest quoopisk!
Fripping lyshus wimbgunts, awhilst moongrovenly kormzibs.
Gerond withoutitude form into formless bloit, why not then? Moose."

An unused extended version of the poem is also excerpted in Neil Gaiman's book Don't Panic: The Official Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Companion , in Appendix III.

A third example appears in The Quintessential Phase of the radio series, again written by Jeltz.

A fourth example appears in And Another Thing... , the sixth book in the trilogy written by Eoin Colfer. The poem is also written by Jeltz.

Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz

The Vogon Captain in charge of overseeing the destruction of the Earth, Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz is sadistic and unpleasant to look at, even by Vogon standards. He enjoys shouting at or executing members of his own crew for insubordination, and takes professional pride in his job of demolishing planets. He very rarely smiles: "Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz smiled very slowly. This was done not so much for effect as because he was trying to remember the sequence of muscle movements."

It is revealed in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe that Jeltz had been hired by Gag Halfrunt to destroy the Earth (though in the film it was Zaphod who gave the order by mistake). Halfrunt had been acting on behalf of a consortium of psychiatrists and the Imperial Galactic Government in order to prevent the discovery of the Ultimate Question. When Halfrunt learns that Arthur Dent escaped the planet's destruction, Jeltz is dispatched to track him down and destroy him. Jeltz is unable to complete this task, due to the intervention of Zaphod Beeblebrox the Fourth, Zaphod's great-grandfather.

In Mostly Harmless , Jeltz is once again responsible for the destruction of the Earth, after the Vogons infiltrate the Hitchhikers' Guide company offices to turn the Guide into a device capable of destroying all Earths in every dimension, this time presumably killing Arthur, Ford, Trillian, and Arthur's daughter, Random—a fate dodged by the characters in the Quintessential Phase. [2]

"Prostetnic Vogon" may be a title, rather than part of his name, since during the second episode of the third radio series (Fit the Fourteenth), two other Prostetnic Vogons are heard from. Also, in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe , Gag Halfrunt refers to Jeltz as "Captain of Vogons Prostetnic" (although this may have been a play on Halfrunt's accent).

Jeltz appears in:

In the first radio series, he was played by Bill Wallis. On television, it was Martin Benson. In the third, fourth and fifth radio series, he was played by Toby Longworth, although Longworth did not receive a credit for the role during the third series. In the film, he is voiced by Richard Griffiths. In cartoon he is voiced by Rupert Degas.

Spacecraft

The ships of the Vogon Constructor Fleet were described as "impossibly huge yellow somethings" (the colour being a parallel to bulldozers that demolish Arthur's house) that "looked more like they had been congealed than constructed" and "hung in the air in much the same way that bricks don't"; they are said to be undetectable to radar and capable of travel through hyperspace. They are not crewed exclusively by Vogons; a species known as the Dentrassi are responsible for on-board catering.

In the television version of the story, the craft are shaped like battleships, albeit with a flat bottom through which the demolition beams are fired. In the film version, the craft are grey and cubic, a continuation of the emphasis on bureaucracy in the Vogons' conception: "Douglas [Adams]'s description of the Vogon ships hanging in the air in much the same way that bricks don't [led to] these Vogon ships which are these massive concrete tower blocks, with hardly any windows, they just have a few doors around the base," says Joel Collins. [3]

Related Research Articles

<i>The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy</i> Series of five books by Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a comedy science fiction series created by Douglas Adams. Originally a radio comedy broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978, it was later adapted to other formats, including stage shows, novels, comic books, a 1981 TV series, a 1984 video game, and 2005 feature film.

<i>Mostly Harmless</i> 1992 comic science fiction novel by Douglas Adams

Mostly Harmless is a 1992 novel by Douglas Adams and the fifth book in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. It is described on the cover of the first editions as "The fifth book in the increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhikers Trilogy". It was the last Hitchhiker's book written by Adams and his final book released in his lifetime.

Ford Prefect (character) character from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Ford Prefect is a fictional character in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by the British author Douglas Adams. His role as Arthur's friend – and rescuer, when the Earth is unexpectedly demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass at the start of the story – is often expository, as Ford is an experienced galactic hitch-hiker and explains that he is actually an alien journalist, a field researcher for the titular Guide itself, and not an out-of-work actor from Guildford as he had hitherto claimed. He also claims to have portrayed roles in several bootleg plays such as “David and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Godspell”.

Zaphod Beeblebrox Fictional character in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Zaphod Beeblebrox is a fictional character in the various versions of the humorous science fiction story The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

Arthur Dent fictional character

Arthur Philip Dent is a fictional character and the hapless protagonist of the comic science fiction series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

Trillian (character) fictional character

Tricia Marie McMillan, also known as Trillian Astra, is a fictional character from Douglas Adams' series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. She is most commonly referred to simply as "Trillian", a modification of her birth name, which she adopted because it sounded more "space-like". According to the movie version, her middle name is Marie. Physically, she is described as "a slim, darkish humanoid, with long waves of black hair, a full mouth, an odd little knob of a nose and ridiculously brown eyes," looking "vaguely Arabic."

<i>Life, the Universe and Everything</i> 1982 book by Douglas Adams

Life, the Universe and Everything is the third book in the five-volume Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy science fiction "trilogy" by British writer Douglas Adams. The title refers to the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything.

<i>The Restaurant at the End of the Universe</i> 1980 book by Douglas Adams

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe is the second book in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy comedy science fiction "trilogy" by Douglas Adams, and is a sequel. It was originally published by Pan Books as a paperback. The book was inspired by the song "Grand Hotel" by British rock band Procol Harum. The book title refers to Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, one of the settings of the book.

<i>The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy</i> (video game) 1984 interactive fiction video game

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is an interactive fiction video game based on the comedic science fiction series of the same name. It was designed by series creator Douglas Adams and Infocom's Steve Meretzky, and it was first released in 1984 for the Apple II, Macintosh, Commodore 64, CP/M, MS-DOS, Amiga, Atari 8-bit family, and Atari ST. It is Infocom's fourteenth game.

<i>The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy</i> (novel) 1979 book by Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the first of six books in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy comedy science fiction "trilogy" by Douglas Adams. The novel is an adaptation of the first four parts of Adams' radio series of the same name. The novel was first published in London on 12 October 1979. It sold 250,000 copies in the first three months.

<i>The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy</i> (film) 2005 British-American comic science fiction film directed by Garth Jennings

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a 2005 British-American science fiction comedy film directed by Garth Jennings, based upon previous works in the media franchise of the same name, created by Douglas Adams. It stars Martin Freeman, Sam Rockwell, Mos Def, Zooey Deschanel, and the voices of Stephen Fry and Alan Rickman.

Richard Griffiths English actor

Richard Thomas Griffiths was an English actor of film, television, and stage. He received the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play, the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Featured Actor and the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play, all for his role in The History Boys. For the 2006 film adaptation, Griffiths was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

<i>The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy</i> (radio series) science fiction comedy radio series

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a science fiction comedy radio series written by Douglas Adams. It was originally broadcast in the United Kingdom by BBC Radio 4 in 1978, and afterwards the BBC World Service, National Public Radio in the US and CBC Radio in Canada. The series was the first radio comedy programme to be produced in stereo, and was innovative in its use of music and sound effects, winning a number of awards.

<i>The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy</i> (TV series) BBC television series

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a BBC television adaptation of Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy which was broadcast in January and February 1981 on UK television station BBC Two. The adaptation follows the original radio series in 1978 and 1980, the first novel and double LP, in 1979, and the stage shows, in 1979 and 1980, making it the fifth iteration of the guide.

<i>The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy</i> Primary and Secondary Phases radio series written by Douglas Adams

The terms Primary Phase and Secondary Phase describe the first two radio series of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, first broadcast in 1978. These were the first incarnations of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy franchise. Both were written by Douglas Adams and consist of six episodes each.

The Tertiary Phase, Quandary Phase, Quintessential Phase and Hexagonal Phase are respectively the third, fourth, fifth and sixth series of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio series. Produced in 2003, 2004 and 2018 by Above the Title Productions for BBC Radio 4, they are radio adaptations of the third, fourth, fifth and sixth books in Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series: Life, the Universe and Everything; So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish; Mostly Harmless and And Another Thing....

<i>The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy</i> (fictional) fictional electronic guide book

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a fictional electronic guide book in the multimedia scifi/comedy series of the same name by Douglas Adams. The Guide serves as "the standard repository for all knowledge and wisdom" for many members of the series' galaxy-spanning civilization. Entries from the guidebook are used as comic narration to bridge events and provide background information in every version of the story. The guide is published by "Megadodo Publications", a publishing company on Ursa Minor Beta.

<i>And Another Thing...</i> (novel) Eoin Colfer novel

And Another Thing... is the sixth and final installment of Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy "trilogy". The book, written by Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl series, was published on the thirtieth anniversary of the first book, 12 October 2009, in hardback. It was published by Penguin Books in the UK and by Hyperion Books in the US. Colfer was given permission to write the book by Adams' widow Jane Belson.

Jeltz may refer to:

References

  1. Quoted in Stamp, R. (Ed.) and Simpson, P. The Making of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Boxtree 2005), p.48
  2. "THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY THE QUINTESSENTIAL PHASE: Fit the Twenty-Six" Archived 2008-09-23 at the Wayback Machine – Review by Jason Davis at Mania.com (retrieved 5 August 2008
  3. Quoted in Stamp, R. (Ed.) and Simpson, P. The Making of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Boxtree 2005), p.58