Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Arthur Philip Dent is a fictional character, the hapless protagonist in the comic science fiction series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. According to some reviewers, Dent resembles a Vonnegut hero.
Arthur spends the next several years, still wearing his dressing gown , helplessly launched from crisis to crisis while trying to straighten out his lifestyle. He rather enjoys tea, but seems to have trouble obtaining it in the far reaches of the galaxy.
In the radio, LP and television versions of the story Arthur is played by Simon Jones, no relation to Peter Jones, the voice of the Guide. In Ken Campbell's stage production of the late 1970s, Chris Langham took the part. In the upcoming theatrical movie he is played by Martin Freeman.
In all versions of the series, Arthur and Ford eventually find themselves back on Earth – but two million years in the past, marooned with an entire useless third of the Golgafrincham population (consisting of hairdressers, account executives, film makers, security guards and telephone sanitisers). The Golgafrincham arrival spurs the extinction of the "native" caveman population, resulting in the human race's eventual replacement by a shipload of middle managers and hairdressers. Many people believe that the terrifyingly plausible concept that this event is responsible for the development and evolution of the human race, from that point, could explain a lot about the condition of humanity today.
The original radio series and the television series end at this point, although a second radio series was made in which Ford and Arthur are rescued by Ford's cousin Zaphod Beeblebrox and have further adventures, and which ends with Arthur stealing Zaphod's spaceship, the Heart of Gold (which Zaphod had himself stolen) and striking out on his own: that is, if you discount Marvin the Paranoid Android, Eddie the shipboard computer, a cloned archaeologist named Lintilla, a bunch of appliances with Genuine People Personalities, and a rather battered copy of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
In the novels and the new radio series, Ford and Arthur escape prehistoric Earth via an eddy in the space-time continuum and a time-travelling Chesterfield sofa that deposits them in the middle of Lord's cricket ground at the climax of the final (in more ways than one, it turns out) match in the Ashes series, the day before the destruction of Earth by the Vogons. Having escaped the destruction of Earth once more and survived further adventures, Arthur eventually finds himself once more back on Earth (or rather an alternate Earth found by the Dolphins to save the human race from extinction). Here he falls in love with a woman named Fenchurch and seems set to live happily ever after – at least until the following, and final, novel, Mostly Harmless, in which Earth, and all of its possible permutations and alternate versions, are destroyed once and for all, and everybody dies (at least as far the novel Mostly Harmless goes, since the yet-to-be aired radio adaption may have a more upbeat ending.)
Other Arthur Dents
A Puritan writer called Arthur Dent wrote a best-selling book called The Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven (first published in 1601). This is still available (ISBN 1-877611-69-7). Douglas Adams claimed that the coincidence in the book titles was completely fortuitous.
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