“The Babel fish is small, yellow, leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the universe. It feeds on brain wave energy, absorbing all unconscious frequencies and then excreting telepathically a matrix formed from the conscious frequencies and nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain, the practical upshot of which is that if you stick one in your ear, you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language: the speech you hear decodes the brain wave matrix.”
That is just a small portion of the wonderfully brilliant writing from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by the late, great Douglas Adams. It may serve as one of the best explanations of what you’re getting into with any of his books, as it’s a shining example of a simple, yet ingenious, solution to a complex problem in the worlds he created. As a way to avoid having to explain why characters could communicate each time a new alien species was introduced, he created the Babel fish. A creature that is quite literally a universal translator.
The fandom of Douglas Adams and his writing is intense, to say the least, and has even resulted in a holiday to honor the late author. Every May 25th, fans around the world celebrate “Towel Day” which itself is a reference to what Adams thought to be the most important item you could have with you through your galactic travels.
As a way of showing their love of everything Hitchhiker’s, a candy shop in Florida that specializes in nerdy confections decided to celebrate by creating some Babel fish of their very own. Using an antique 19th-century drop candy roller, the folks at Public Displays Of Confection rolled out a serendipitous 42 bags of these fish shaped candies just in time for Towel Day, and we can only assume that they went with piña colada flavor because it’s just too hard to perfect the essence of a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. In addition to explaining the candy making process, the narrator shares some of his favorite memories of Adams (having met him as a child), as well as some of the Towel Day events the store has planned for later this month, including an online Vogon poetry slam that anyone can participate in. The rules for that are in their YouTube video’s description.
What version of the Babel fish do you think is better? The one that translates for you or the one you can snack on? Let’s discuss in the comments below!
Image: Buena Vista Pictures