The story is a prequel to the events in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and has the young Zaphod Beeblebrox working as a salvage ship operator. He guides some bureaucrats to a crashed spaceship that may be leaking some dangerous materials, radioactive, toxic and otherwise hazardous by-products which were destined to be thrown into a black hole. The bureaucrats swear that it is "perfectly safe." When asked why they want to see it if that is true, they claim that they "like looking at things that are perfectly safe." The comic asides in the story include some of the time travel paradoxes which are a common running theme in Adams' SF work, and plenty of material about lobsters.