So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

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So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (1984, ISBN 0-345-39183-7) is the fourth book of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy written by Douglas Adams. Its title is the message left by the dolphins when they departed Planet Earth just before it was demolished to make way for a hyperspatial express route, as described in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The phrase has since been adopted by some science fiction fans as a humorous way to say "goodbye" and a song of the same name was featured in the 2005 film adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.


Plot summary

Arthur Dent has randomly hitch-hiked his way through the galaxy and is dropped off on a planet in the middle of a rainstorm. He quickly realises that he appears to be in the centre of England on the planet Earth, even though he had previously witnessed it being destroyed by the Vogons. Furthermore, while he has been gone for several years, it appears only a few months have passed on Earth. He manages to hitch a ride with a man named Russell, who is driving home his sister Fenchurch (Fenny for short). Russell explains that she had become delusional several months earlier shortly after a worldwide incident involving mass hysteria over the "hallucinations with the big yellow spaceships" (Vogon Ships). Arthur also learns that all the dolphins disappeared shortly after that event. Arthur becomes curious about Fenchurch, but they reach his home before he can ask more questions. Inside his still-standing home, Arthur finds, among a pile of junk mail, a gift-wrapped bowl inscribed with the words "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish" which he then uses as a fish bowl for his Babel Fish. That night, Arthur cannot help but consider that Fenchurch is somehow connected to him and to the Earth's destruction, and finds that he still has the ability to fly whenever he lets his thoughts wander.

After putting his life back in order, Arthur goes about trying to find more information about Fenchurch. He manages to catch her hitchhiking and pursues their earlier conversation in a pub, learning more about her unusual circumstances. He obtains her phone number but loses it after he has to give up the winning raffle ticket he wrote it on the back of. He happens upon her home when he attempts to locate the cave he had previously lived in after crashing onto prehistoric Earth with the Golgafrinchans: Fenchurch's flat is built on the same spot. As the two talk they find more circumstances connecting them. Fenchurch reveals that, moments before her hallucinations about the yellow ships, she had an epiphany while sitting in a cafe about how to make everything right, but then blacked out. Ever since, she has not been able to recall that epiphany. After seeing that Fenchurch's feet do not touch the ground, Arthur teaches her how to fly and together they make love over the London skies.

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