Monday, January 25, 2010

Zarjaz!: More Betelgeusian fun

A cursory review of Google references to Betelgeusians has revealed the following, to suppliment previous discussions in this blog.
My own familiarity with Betelgeusians began with a Star Trek novel by Christopher L Bennett, Ex Machina, followed by the vintage Mego action figures. The official canon appearance in TMP is so very minor I think it can safely be passed over as far as useful information is concerned.
To the information I have already accumulated (canon and non) I have discovered one more tidbit: Betelgeusian cigars are a well-known export, although perhaps not highly acclaimed. (SCE eBook: The Art of the Comeback)

The most well-known instance appears to be from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Some of the characters are Ford Prefect and his semi-half cousin, Zaphod Beeblebrox. In the Hitchhiker universe, a mysterious catastrophe took place on the planet of Betelgeuse Seven many years before the novel, and Ford's father was the only man to survive. This cataclysm known as "The Great Collapsing Hrung Disaster of Gal./Sid./Year 03758" roughly mirrors the factual doom scenario revolving around the star Betelgeuse and the interstellar diaspora of the Trek Betelgeusians.
Also, I learned that aliens escaping earth in Men In Black sing the Betelgusian death anthem (from the Hitchhiker radio series).
I found this online (whether it is accurate, I don't know):
The ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ says the following about Betelgeusians:
Due to their carnivorous ancestry, beings from any planet in the vicinity of Betelgeuse are extremely protective of anything they view as ‘theirs’. Though they are normally perfectly accepting of hitchhikers and quite happy to give them a lift, it must be noted that hitchhikers who find themselves on a Betelgeusian spaceship uninvited are advised to immediately hand over all alcohol to pacify their hosts.

They are also advised to keep away from anyone a Betelgeusian is romantically involved with. Any sign of romantic favour between their partner and another being is seen as a threat. Betelgeusians are renowned for eliminating threats by any means necessary.

N.B. Signs of romantic favour include; touching; hugging; kissing; waving at; smiling at; winking at; passing an object to; asking the time of; sitting next to when there are no other seats; or generally being within a five-mile radius of the aforementioned Betelgeusian’s partner. Be on your guard.

The British sci-fi comic 2000 AD provides some Betelguisian words, invented at the whim of that comic's editors.
(The word exclamation zarjaz! comes from this lexicon, a word which roughly translates as "coolness!" or "fantastic!")
The character of Tharg the Mighty is the chief vehicle for these words, in that he is a major character who also purports to be an editor of the comic. Tharg hails from the planet Quaxxann, in orbit of the star Betelgeuse (but he works in the publisher's office in England.) A favorite food is said to be polystyrene (Styrofoam) cups.

This comic 2000 AD is also known to have inspired the 80's rock record label Zarjazz as well as the fanzine Zarjaz in the early 2000's.

2000 AD is a British sci-fi comic franchise first published in 1977, and has been published in various incarnations up until the present day. It is also the source of the iconic perhaps-more-familiar Judge Dredd character.

In another franchise fated with limited exposure, I refer you to the Bucky O'Hare cartoon and the Betelgeusian Berserker Baboons.'Hare.php
I have to wonder if these nasty tempered simians are made competitive and unpleasant due to their dying star system? I know it'd make me moody.

Interestingly, the unpleasant "Ghost with the Most" Beetlejuice is another derivation. You can summon him by repeating his name three times. The inevitable cataclysmic destruction of the real star Betelgeuse seems to have spawned a number of superstitious associations.

And, of course, the real star Betelgeuse is a scientific reality. It is indeed considered to be approaching a supernova. The time-table is under heated debate (haha... supernova... heated... I kill myself). It is doubtful the timescale of such an event is within the realms of humanity's projected lifetime, although the fiery end of Betelgeuse has been listed as the the cause of human extinction in at least one sci-fi franchise.
Among other plausible etymologies, evidence suggests Betelgeuse is a Westernization of Arabic words meaning "Orion's Armpit." Betelguese is the star representing Orion's right shoulder.


  1. I'm not sure that Beetlejuice counts, although Ford Prefect certainly does. Of course, they don't have sarcasm on Betelgeuse, so maybe it was just a really subtle joke.

  2. While I certainly and immediatly agree that Beetlejuice isn't a Betelgeusian is the same "alien lifeform" sense as, say, Tharg the Mighty or Ford Prefect, he is sadly legitimately thematically related. From what I have read, in the movie his tombstone reads his name as "Betelgeuse." And although astrology and the supernatural does not readily play a role in most sci-fi, it is more "real" to most people than alien lifeforms. I do not agree with a dismissal of ideas just because I do not share in them, and felt Beetlejuice deserved a mention. However, I see your point, too.