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Paperback The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time Book

ISBN: 0345460952

ISBN13: 9780345460950

The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time

(Book #3 in the Dirk Gently Series)

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Book Overview

"A fitting eulogy to the master of wacky words and even wackier tales . . . Salmon leaves no doubt as to Adams's lasting legacy."-- Entertainment Weekly With an introduction to the introduction by Terry Jones Douglas Adams changed the face of science fiction with his cosmically comic novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and its classic sequels. Sadly for his countless admirers, he hitched his own ride to the great beyond much too soon. Culled...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Save it for last.

When reading the works of Douglas Admas you either get it or you don't. For those who get it you will have found a one of a kind humorist who, using his mastery of the English language, will create the most beautiful and memorable images in your mind that easily parallel a Da Vinci masterpiece; then draw a crate of bananas, or perhaps a herring sandwich on it for unknown reasons at the time, but ones that will make sense 30 chapters later in a complicated mish mash of seemingly random events that turn out to be all connected brilliantly in the end. If you don't get it however you will probably simply thumb through the first bit and notice how remarkably close the resemblance to the non-humorous writings you usually read isn't. I would like to think I get it though. I had only started to read Douglas Adams about 4 years after he died. I had overheard a teacher talking to a student about him and checked out "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" to see what the fuss was about. Within 3 months I had read all five books in the Hitchhiker's trilogy, both Dirk Gently's, "The Deeper Meaning of Liff", and have recently finished "The Salmon of Doubt". So if you are familiar with Adams, and are one of those who "gets it" then I would suggest saving this book for last. First thing is that while technically he did write the book, he was unaware of doing so on account of him being dead. Leave it to DNA to get credited for writing a best seller while he's been in the ground for a good bit. Also, as aforementioned about how some people get Adams's style and some don't, this book itself is in quite a differant style than what one would normally expect when picking up a book. It is a collection of speeches, essays, quick thoughts and ideas, and bits of books he'd written over his lifetime. The writings were salvaged from his many Mac computers after his death and assembled by his friends and family into this book, which acts as a sort of final farewell from the author with an impressive cult following. So if you're unfamiliar with the works of Adams, and or are used to reading esseys or novels, then this may not be the best book of his to start with, as you will miss out on alot of the humor and feeling. The book is composed of 3 main parts, which are: Life, The Universe, And Everything. The first two parts go over Adams's writings from his very first published piece when he was twelve to a popular magazine, to story ideas he had involving Genghis Khan and a young Zaphod Beeblebrox, to memos he wrote to Disney about the Hitchhiker's movie close to the time of his death. These and all in-between are wonderful snippets of Adams's life that give a good feel for the kind of person he really was, his beliefs, and how to make a proper cup of English tea. The third part of the book is another prime reason to save it for last, as it contains the beginning to the third Dirk Gently novel that Adams hinted may in fact be turned into the sixth Hitchhiker book instead. Th

Sadly, there is no more

The good news is, "The Salmon of Doubt" is filled with the brilliant writings of Douglas Adams. The bad news is, there will be no more of his brilliant writings, since Adams passed away much too young in 2001. "The Salmon of Doubt" is a collection of essays, newspaper columns, story ideas, speeches, and interviews that were culled from Adams' hard drive after he died. They offer insight into his personal life, as well as a tantalizing glimpse at projects that could have been. The text of one speech debating the existence of God gives one an idea of the depth of Adams' intelligence and thoughtfulness. The fact that, as the book notes, it was given extemporaneously, is staggering. A substantial portion of what would have become another "Dirk Gently" novel is included. Be careful with this one: it's good, but of course it's unfinished. We will never know what happened to the other half of the cat, or who Dirk's mysterious benefactor was. One minor complaint is that the sources for each item are not given until the end of each chapter. It would have been more helpful to learn the source at the beginning instead.

Heartbreakingly interrupted.

He made hitchhiking a universal thing. Literally. Douglas Adams, author of the five books in the vastly popular comic-space saga "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" trilogy (you did indeed read that correctly), plus an assortment of other novels, died in May 2001. Now comes a posthumous collection of his writings, called "The Salmon of Doubt," which allows his fans one last, gentle look at a revolutionary voice in literature and science-fiction. "Salmon" is very much a toast to Adams, a eulogy to him. The assembled writings are fabulous, culled from a massive selection of writings, letters, essays, various introductions and other things from Adams' computer. The title refers to an included unfinished Dirk Gently book which, had he lived, might have turned into the sixth "Hitchhiker" book. Other points of interest: The first published work of twelve-year-old Douglas Adams, a letter to the editor to "The Eagle," a popular boys' magazine. "Y," in which Adams helpfully points out that the question "Why?" is the only one important enough to have had a letter named after it. "Riding the Rays," in which Adams gets the idea to compare riding a new technological submarine, the "Sub Bug," to riding manta rays off the coast of Manta Ray Bay near Australia, the rejection of his proposal when it comes to riding the rays and, upon discovering a manta in said bay, his ease with giving up the pursuit of a ride. Quite possibly the best entry in the whole book. "Is There an Artificial God?" is an interesting speech from Adams on his aetheism, as he breaks downb his non-belief into steps and explores the contrasts between science and religion. "Cookies," in which Adams finds himself plagued by the most horrid of human entities: The cookie thief. Or does he?A letter to Disney's unresponsive David Vogel leaving a chart of numbers at which Adams can possibly be reached. "The Private Life of Genghis Khan": A woman whose village has just been pillaged and burnt to the ground by the Mongol now finds herself right next to him, with one of his warriors forcing her to ask the mighty Khan how his day was... It is almost spooky how, in a review/essay of P.G. Wodehouse's unfinished novel "Sunset at Blandings," Adams laments the fact that Wodehouse's final work is "unfinished not just in the sense that it suddenly, heartbreakingly for those of us who love this man and his work, stops in midflow, but in the more important sense that the text up to that point is also unfinished." Heartbreakingly stopped in midflow, unfinished? The same can be said of Adams himself.

An Absence of Pretence

Do not pick up The Salmon of Doubt expecting a complete novel. Given time Adams' would have converted it into a brilliant final product. Sadly, however, that will never happen. The novel is unfinished, but better to be unfinished than completed by someone else. The book is more than the uncompleted novel, however. The would-be third Dirk Gently installment occupies fewer than 100 pages at the volume's end. The rest is taken up by an amalgam of tidbits from Adams' life. The book's success is the essays, short stories, letters, interviews, many of them in print for the first time in Salmon. They accomplish what no novel ever could; they portray Adams' as a human being. Salmon is to Douglas Adams' what I, Asimov is to Isaac Asimov. It's not an autobiography, exactly, but it's as close as print gets to establishing a dialogue between the reader and the author. A great many people admire Adams' for is brilliant wit. This book allows us to admire him for much more. I frequent a message board where a rating of "5" means "Comedy Gold," and that is why I give A Salmon of Doubt five stars. It is hilarious. The essay, "Cookies," used as a plot point in So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish, is a brilliantly narrated anecdote. The reflections on canine behavior in Maggie and Trudie gave me a sleep-preventing giggle fit. The novel portion is jerky in places. An astute reader will spot some filler lines, gaps in continuity, and things that would most likely have been left out of the final version, but no one is pretending that it is whole. Salmon is exactly what it sets out to be; it is a requiem, a tribute to a great man.

A Wonderful, Bittersweet Send-Off...

In spite of the book's subtitle: "Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time", what "The Salmon of Doubt" contains, among other things, is the 79 rough-draft pages of what was probably going to be his third Dirk Gently novel. I say probably because he states many times in his various interviews and essays that "The Salmon of Doubt" may have eventually morphed into a Hitchhiker book or, perhaps, an unrelated, stand-alone book. What was included, though (pulled from three different drafts) is definitely Dirk Gently.The rest of the book, though, is mainly interviews, essays and letters that he wrote over the course of his life and career. Ranging from his views on religion (an avid atheist) to his status as an author and a conservationist to his love of music and his memories of school, the book feels more like a conversation with him than a memorial. This seems to be for the best, though, as it gives a very thorough, balanced view of the man - including some of his shortcomings.Of special note is the essay he wrote for P.G. Wodehouse's "Sunset at Blandings" - a discussion of the brilliance of Wodehouse's work and what it takes to read an unfinished book. Many of the passages seem especially poignant when reading the Dirk Gently chapters.Also of note is the lament by Richard Dawkins, longtime fan, friend, biologist and author of "The Blind Watchmaker" and "The Selfish Gene". After reading repeatedly in the first three chapters how Dawkins' books changed Adams' life, it is touching to read how his books had such effect on Dawkins'.Ultimately, this book is worth reading for anyone who was even a casual fan of Adams. It contains all the intelligence, wittiness and passion that makes his works worth reading (or listening to - or watching), but gives the feeling that you are actually getting to know the whole man for once. The tragedy of Adams' death seems most poignant after finishing the book and wishing that you could sit down and discuss his life, his theories or his opinions with him and knowing that the chance is forever past. If his books have ever interested you, read this one, too.
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