Ford Prefect

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Ford Prefect
Species: Betelgeusian
Planet of Origin: Betelgeuse 7
Appearances: Every adaptation ever
First appearance: Fit the First

Ford Prefect, also known as Ix, was a Betelgeusean (masquerading as human) friend of Arthur Dent's and a roving reporter for the interstellar travelling almanac The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Ford shared three mothers with The President of the Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox, making them semi-cousins.

Ford was responsible for the entry on Earth. He visited the Earth by way of a Teaser and was accidentally stranded for fifteen years. He was also later upset to learn that his masterpiece had been compressed into the two words: "Mostly Harmless".

Ford skimped a bit on his preparatory research, leading him to think that Ford Prefect was a nicely inconspicuous name. When Arthur and Ford met,[1] Ford was posing as an out-of-work actor. He only revealed he was from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse, and not from Guildford after all, as he had usually claimed, to Arthur just before the Vogons arrived to destroy Earth.

While falling from a fifteen mile high statue of Arthur Dent towards a body of water, he admits to Zaphod Beeblebrox that he can't stand heights or water.[2]

Ford always carries an American Express card as a means of making a "Bona Fide" attempt to pay off bar bills, a step which inevitably leads to his deploying his credentials as a Guide editor in a 'backup manoeuvre', helping him avoid genuinely paying for the drinks and such.[3]

His adventures ended on Earth when the Vogons, via the Grebulons, destroyed it again, as well as any chance of Earth ever existing in any universe again.[4]

He was saved from the destruction of the Earth by means of the Babel Fish's instinct for self-preservation.[5]

He escaped the Earth's destruction, thanks to Wowbagger, the Infinitely Prolonged and went on to have more adventures.[6]

It should also be noted that one of Ford's major goals in life is to to get drunk and dance with girls.


Early LifeEdit

Ford Prefect was born on Betelgeuse Seven. His father, who was also his uncle, was from Betelgeuse Seven, which was decimated during the Great Collapsing Hrung Disaster of Gal./Sid./Year 03758. After this his father moved to Betelgeuse Five where he died of shame, due to his son's inability to pronounce his name, in the language Praxibetel.

Unable to pronounce his name, Ford's friends called him Ix which, in English, translates as "boy who is not able satisfactorily to explain what a Hrung is or why it should choose to collapse on Betelgeuse Seven".

Before travelling to the supercomputer Earth, he registered the name Ford Prefect at the Galactic Nomenclaturoid Office, where they had the technology to unpick his old name from the fabric of space/time and thread the new one in its place.[7]

Work on the GuideEdit

Ford Prefect 2

Ford Prefect

Ford was famous for his article in the Guide about Earth, which he spent fifteen years researching for. He had originally written a competent article, but the editors cut his verbose article down to the two words "Mostly Harmless." The previous entry had been only the single word "Harmless." When another Earth popped up in their universe from the improbability axis, the Guide reverted to Prefect's complete article about Earth.[8]

While on Earth, Ford told people he was an out of work actor and from Guildford.[9]

Adventures with Arthur DentEdit

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyEdit

Ford Prefect

Ford Prefect as he appears in the BBC series.

At the end of Ford's fifteen-year research of Earth, he was forced off when the Vogons destroyed the planet to make room for a new hyperspace bypass. He used his Electronic Thumb to hitch a ride on the Vogon ship, and found himself in the Dentrassis' kitchen. After waking up, he comforted Arthur Dent, a friend of his whom he had made on Earth. He gave Arthur his copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy to stop him from panicking and tried to formulate a plan. It was at this point that he also gave Dent a Babel Fish in his ear to translate the Vogon language. The pair were captured by the Vogons and brought to Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz who read them some Vogon Poetry he had written. After this torture, Ford and Arthur tried to lie their way out of being killed, with no success. They tried to talk to the guard who attempted to throw them out of the airlock, appealing to his sense of ethics and reason. As Vogons have neither, this tactic didn't work, and they were thrown out of the ship. As it so happened, the Heart of Gold was traveling nearby at that very moment and, in an incredible stroke of luck dictated by Arthur's contact with a certain Islington phone number, picked them up.

At this point, they were taken up to the bridge by Marvin, a manically depressed robot. On the way, Marvin mentioned Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ford's semicousin. This caused Ford to laugh hysterically, because of the long odds involved. Once they reached the bridge, Ford attempted to make introductions, but Arthur already knew Zaphod. Apparently, Arthur had met Zaphod at a party some time prior where he failed to interest one Tricia McMillian. Zaphod, who called himself Phil, picked up Trillian, who also stood on the bridge. At the end of Arthur's story, Ford expressed anger, not at Zaphod's treatment of Dent, but at the fact that he did not pick up Ford on his way out.

Ford quickly joined Zaphod in his quest to find Magrathea, a lost world of extremely wealthy planet-builders. Ford expressed skepticism at the possibility that it actually existed, and that the planet that the Heart of Gold eventually began to orbit around was actually the right planet. As he and Zaphod argued, they were confronted by a recorded message from the Magratheans, who fired guided missiles at them. Arthur turned on the Infinite Improbability Drive, which caused the missiles to turn into a bowl of petunias and a whale. The five made their way to the surface of Magrathea, where Ford, Trillian, and Zaphod went to scout out the planet while Arthur and Marvin remained behind. Zaphod told Trillian and Ford about the fact that part of his brain was burned away. The three were then gassed. Ford and Trillian woke up in a prison, and complained until the Magratheans gave them a catalouge to keep them busy. When a planet made entirely of gold came up, they woke up Zaphod.

After being removed from their cell, Ford, Zaphod, and Trillian met with a pair of mice, where they made small talk before Arthur came in. At this point, the mice made their offer of lots of money for Arthur's brain, from which they planned to extract the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. After Arthur's refusal, they attempted to take it by force, after which the group of four escaped, only to be cornered by two officers. As the group had a discussion with the officers from behind a rapidly shrinking computer bank, they heard a strange sound. Ford, in a brief bout of bravery, went out to see what happened. He discovered that the officers had suffocated (they were methane-breathers, and their life support systems had failed) and told the others that it was safe to come out.

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. According to the film version of the first book, Arthur befriends Ford by knocking him out of the way while trying to shake hands with an oncoming car. Arthur assumed he was drunk. They meet five or six years before the start of the story.
  2. According to the second phase of the radio series.
  3. In So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish.
  4. At the end of the Douglas Adams book Mostly Harmless.
  5. In the Quintessential Phase of the radio series.
  6. According to the follow-up book And Another Thing... by Eoin Colfer.
  7. Douglas Adams, Original Radio Series Scripts, p50. He also said, "I included a footnote explaining this in the first Hitchhiker book, but it was cut because it was so dull."
  8. From the radio show.
  9. From the movie, when Arthur is discussing Ford's past on the Vogon ship.

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