The Day of the Scoffalot (Alien Detective Agency)
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MacDuff returns to his London flat and engages in odd behaviour, including climbing a drainpipe to break into the flat belonging to his girlfriend, Susan Way, to erase an embarrassing message left on her answering machine. Susan returns from a night out with Michael Wenton-Weakes. Wenton-Weakes subsequently begins behaving strangely, becoming obsessed with Coleridge and intense feelings of aggrievement. The next day, MacDuff visits former schoolmate Dirk Gently, a self-claimed "Holistic Detective" who believes in the "fundamental interconnectedness of all things" and is currently searching for a missing cat.
Gently informs MacDuff that he is a suspect in the death of Gordon Way, and begins to unravel the mysterious chain of events. Gently concludes that MacDuff had been possessed by a ghost and that a time machine was involved. Ultimately, the two travel to St. Cedd's to meet with Prof. Chronotis, and a complex history is revealed. Four billion years in Earth's past, a group of aliens called Salaxalans landed on Earth; however, a mistake caused by their engineer — who used an Electric Monk to irrationally believe the proposed fix would work — caused their landing craft to explode, killing the Salaxalans.
The ghost of the Salaxalan engineer roamed the earth, watching human life develop, searching for a way to undo its mistake, and waiting to find a sympathetic soul that it could possess. In the early 19th century, the ghost possessed Coleridge, and influenced his writing of "Kubla Khan" and " The Rime of the Ancient Mariner ", but found the poet too 'relaxed' on laudanum to be useful. It discovered that Prof.
Chronotis possesses a time machine disguised as his rooms at the college. At the aforementioned Coleridge dinner, the ghost influenced Prof.
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Chronotis to use the time machine to perform the magic trick, using the opportunity to lure the Electric Monk and its horse to Earth. However, the ghost found the Monk unusable for its purposes. The ghost subsequently attempted to possess MacDuff, resulting in his odd behaviour, before finding its sympathetic host in Wenton-Weakes. The ghost, still in possession of Wenton-Weakes, arrives at Prof. Chronotis' quarters and convinces them to take him back in time to just prior to the explosion of the Salaxalan ship, so that he can make the proper repairs.
As they watch the ghost take Wenton-Weakes' body out towards the ship, MacDuff gets a call from Susan and learns that Wenton-Weakes recently killed a professional rival Susan having been conveyed the information by the ghost of Gordon Way. Gently realises that the similarity between Wenton-Weakes' jealousy toward his rival and the ghost's jealousy of humanity was what allowed the ghost to possess him.
Gently concludes that the Salaxalans intended to settle permanently on Earth, and the explosion of their ship was what caused the beginning of life on the planet. In order to foil the ghost's plans, Gently, MacDuff, and Prof.
Chronotis travel to the 19th century. Gently interrupts Coleridge, becoming the " man from Porlock " and preventing the full version of "Kubla Khan" from being written. Upon arrival back in the 20th century, Gently, MacDuff, and Prof. Chronotis find small changes as a result of their actions, including the existence of the works of Johann Sebastian Bach , which had not existed in their original timeline.
Gently learns that the missing cat he was searching for never went missing, and sends his client a revised bill that reads, "To: saving human race from total extinction - no charge. Reviewing the book for The Times , John Nicholson wrote it was "endearingly dotty", but doubted its commercial potential. A nice change for Adams, proof that his talent goes far beyond the meandering Hitchhiker saga.
In , the Magill Book Reviews said "The author's whimsical sense of humor and his sense that the universe has many unexplored possibilities will arouse the interest of a wide readership.
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This novel caused Adams to become acquainted with the well-known scientist Richard Dawkins. As Dawkins explains, "As soon as I finished it, I turned back to page one and read it straight through again — the only time I have ever done that, and I wrote to tell him so. He replied that he was a fan of my books, and he invited me to his house in London. One of her early serials on the programme was City of Death , which Adams wrote, and which shares certain plot elements with the novel. Mystery Mob and the Magic Bottle. Mystery Mob and the Circus of Doom.
Mystery Mob and the Conker Conspiracy. Mystery Mob and the Man Eating Tiger. Mystery Mob and the Haunted Attic. Mystery Mob and the Wrong Robot.
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Unavailable for purchase. Either way the revelation is likely to provide some satisfaction to UFO enthusiasts, often dismissed as conspiracy theorists. Like our US colleagues, we too denied — even to parliament — that we were undertaking secret studies into the UFO phenomenon and consistently downplayed the true extent of our interest and activity at the Ministry of Defence.
It said its initial funding came largely at the request of the former Senate leader Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat long known for his enthusiasm for space phenomena.