How far did Marvin fall?

This is a wonderful piece of animation by Nick Page, set to the audio from the original radio show of the Secondary Phase of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Only: there’s a problem, here. Marvin clearly says that he’s fallen “… 15 miles through the air and a further mile through solid rock”.

In the clip below, the Guide refers in passing to the fact that life is something that you can lose if falling from a cave thirteen miles above ground level:

A cave could be thirteen miles up

This reference is, of course, just an aside. It could, however, be considered to be a writer’s trick known as ‘foreshadowing’.

When Ford, Zaphod, Arthur and Marvin escape in the Heart of Gold from the pursuing vogon fleet on improbability drive, they arrive in a mysterious cave on Brontitall. Eddie, the shipboard computer, checks the altitude of the cave, to find that it is, coincidentally, thirteen miles above ground level:

Eddie confirms that the cave is thirteen miles up

Arthur falls from the cave, and is saved from certain death by landing on the back of a swutting enormous bird. The bird shows him that the ‘cave’ is actually a representation of the nutrimatic cup, and it is part of a statue of Arthur himself — one that is fifteen miles high:

The statue is fifteen miles high

Arthur, Ford and Zaphod have various adventures. Meanwhile, Marvin also fell from the ‘cave’ (which, as we’ve ascertained, is thirteen miles up) and ended up in the very deep, dark hole. However, even with his planet-sized brain, he gets it wrong by clearly claiming to have fallen fifteen miles through the air, which he cannot have done since he fell from the same place from which the others also fell, ie the cave (or ‘cup’):

Marvin gets it wrong!

I think somebody made a boo-boo. I agree, it’s not exactly earth-shattering, but it’s interesting, no? … well, it might be if you’re a Hitchhiker’s fan.

Speaking of which, Monday (25May2020) is Towel Day.

Do you know where your towel is?

About peNdantry

Phlyarologist (part-time) and pendant. Campaigner for action against anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and injustice in all its forms. Humanist, atheist, notoftenpist. Wannabe poet, writer and astronaut.
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10 Responses to How far did Marvin fall?

  1. msjadeli says:

    Fun post! I’m an admirer of Mr. Adams and his creative genius, I am not an afficianado like it seems you are. Thanks for the heads up on Towel Day!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maybe it was a different cave? Or due to all these previous falls, a whole 2 miles deep had been dug up at the foot of the hill?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. rusty says:

    It surely relates to Einstein’s relativistic effects from the speed Marvin reached as he fell…

    His higher speed would ‘shorten’ the ‘ruler’ used by Marvin to measure the distance he covered, resulting in the higher value he reports…

    The universe is a strange place… Good that we can always find security & comfort in our towels!

    Liked by 1 person

    • pendantry says:

      I reckon that he got a bump on his head when he fell, that jarred the diodes down his left side, upsetting his thinking.

      This would explain why, later, he would claim to see the Question in Arthur’s head, when clearly any such Question would have been the wrong one given that he was a descendant of the ‘B’ Ark humans….


  4. Pingback: Let’s Get Inspired by pendantry of the blog called Wibble – Part 1 of 2 – ThoughtsnLifeBlog

  5. Pingback: Happy Towel Day 2021! | Wibble

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