“And Another Thing” by Eoin Colfer on Constructs


Guide Note: Throughout recorded history people have used constructs to avoid reality. The cheapest way to
escape despair is to take refuge in one’s imagination. During the day, a person might be forced to work in a quimp
slattery, but in the evening that same person can be transformed by sheer force of will and imagination into a
rumper of feltsparks.

Of course, billions of people have no imaginations and for these people there are Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters.  After two of those babies, the dullest, most by-the-book Vogon will be up on the bar in stilettos, vodelling mountain shankies and swearing he’s the king of the Grey Binding Fiefdoms of Saxaquine.

Unfortunately this method of escape from reality only lasts for a couple of weekends, by which time the escapee
will be quite dead, cause of death usually being a rebellious liver packing its bag and exiting the host torso via the
nearest viable exit.

Because liver desertion is not a nice way to go, most species have invented some form of construct to escape
their daily lives. The most primitive constructs are cave paintings, unless you are a gilled creature, then it is
difficult to get the paint to stick; and if you try it on dry land, then the paint will be sticky but so will your gills.
Cave paintings lead to more sophisticated works, lead to books, first with pictures, then without. Back to pictures
with television. Onwards to 3-D experiences and finally interactive, multi-sensory, holographic constructs.
Better than the real thing. In the case of the Flargathon Gas Swamps, much better than the real thing.

The Gaseans of Flargathon were so peeved by their name and by the constant stink of spirogyra invading their
nostrils that they hired the hyper-intelligent Magratheans to build an idyllic construct that would be
permanently occupied by every Gasean, except for a rotating staff awakened to service the virtual reality and
keep the gas mines pumping. The construct was designed by the Magrathean A-team of Doctors Brewtlewine,
Zestyfang and LaSane, who had won a Golden Lobe for their work on New Asgard. After fifteen years the
construct was ready to be plugged in and was named DB-DZ-DLS in the team’s honour.

For years things were rosy, all happy snores and money in the bank, until the computer happened to randomly
wake up five people who did not have the population’s best interests at heart. These people, let’s call them assholes, realized that while the cats were indulging themselves in their favourite virtual fantasies, the mice could strip the planet bare and live like les grands fromages in the real Universe.

It took them ten years, but the assholes managed to gut the old planet while the Magratheans were
simultaneously building them a brand new one. A nice, Neptune-sized, terrestrial world (hold the swamps), slingshot into orbit in the Alpha Centauri system. They named the planet Incognitus and immediately enforced a worldwide ‘no extradition’ rule. Five years later the Gaseans awoke to find their suspended animation diaper bags overflowing and their planet smelling worse than ever.

And the moral of the story is? There are a few actually: some people are bastards and should never be left in charge. And, a Magrathean will always take the money, no questions asked. Finally, always fit composting diaper bags just in case. Because you really never know. No one really ever knows.

This passage made me laugh, not to mention it’s precisely what I’ve been saying for years about the combination of alcohol and people who depend on this type of beverage to have fun.  ^_~

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