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The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time Paperback – 3 Jan 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; New Ed edition (3 Jan. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330323121
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330323123
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 2 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 336,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Douglas Adams created all the various and contradictory manifestations of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: radio, novels, TV, computer game, stage adaptations, comic book and bath towel. He lectured and broadcast around the world and was a patron of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and Save the Rhino International. Douglas Adams was born in Cambridge, UK and lived with his wife and daughter in Islington, London, before moving to Santa Barbara, California, where he died suddenly in 2001. After Douglas died the movie of Hitchhiker moved out of development hell into the clear uplands of production, using much of Douglas' original script and ideas. Douglas shares the writing credit for the movie with Karey Kirkpatrick.

Product Description

Amazon Review

The Salmon of Doubt is the late Douglas Adams' third comic novel about "holistic detective" Dirk Gently. Ten tantalising chapters of this unfinished project are padded to book size with about 50 short Adams pieces, mostly non-fiction.

Additional material includes introductions by Stephen Fry and editor Peter Guzzardi (who stitched together the Salmon fragment from disk drafts), The Guardian's Adams biography, Richard Dawkins' farewell piece, and the order of the memorial service.

The non-fiction by the man himself ranges from perhaps a dozen meaty articles and speeches to brief squibs, interview/questionnaire answers and tiny asides like:

We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works. How do you recognise something that is still technology? A good clue is if it comes with a manual.

There are enjoyable pieces on computers (especially), atheism, dogs, manta rays on the Great Barrier Reef, the Save the Rhino stunt climb, and PG Wodehouse. Much of the rest is ephemeral; you can't help reflecting that Adams himself never chose to collect all this lightweight newspaper work.

Lovers of his fiction will welcome the Hitch-Hiker-related short stories "The Private Life of Genghis Khan" and "Young Zaphod Plays It Safe", despite the latter's dreadfully dated political punch line.

What of The Salmon of Doubt itself, a quarter of this book? There's a glimpse of a far-future estate agent's utopia, a woman asking Dirk Gently to investigate a cat that's literally only half there (his puzzling reluctance to take the case may echo Adams' own feelings about the novel), Gently's capricious trip to America in response to an unknown client's total lack of instructions, the tragic death of a rhino as perceived by the rhino... Many teasing questions; we'll never know the answers.

Overall it's a must-have for devoted Adams fans and completists, a likely disappointment (though with pleasant exceptions) for new readers. --David Langford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'Douglas Adams created a new comic genre, and peopled a whole other world through his work' FINANCIAL TIMES 'His ability to connect cosmic ideas with the banal commonplaces of everyday life was unique' STEPHEN FRY

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

164 of 167 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 25 April 2002
Format: Hardcover
Douglas Adams once noted that there was a class of reviewer who simply took the best jokes out of a book and put them in their review. It's going to be difficult to review The Salmon of Doubt without doing that, every page has quotable lines, memorable phrases and oh-so elegant metaphors that are just sitting there waiting for a reviewer to pluck them out. I'll do my best not to.
Latterly, Douglas Adams had become as famous for not writing Hitchhikers books as for writing them in the first place. The Salmon of Doubt, a collection of essays, articles, interviews and, finally, ten chapters of his last novel, demonstrates that he'd developed his displacement activities to avoid writing into a fine art, progressing from 'taking another bath' and 'going for a walk' to coming up with some of the most elegant essays on atheism ever written and climbing Kilimanjaro to save rhinos. This is what he'd been getting up to all that time, and it was a far more interesting and productive way of occupying himself than coming up with new things for Marvin to do.
And if I haven't done so already, here's where I lapse into cliche - Douglas Adams delighted millions; created characters and phrases that have passed into everyday use; he died tragically young; he made the most complex philosophical and scientific ideas seem so simple; I never met him but he made me feel that I knew him; I laughed aloud while reading this book.
Stephen Fry's introduction is perceptive, but more importantly it's moving. Fry makes the crucial point - Adams convinced a generation of readers that he was writing just for us. The sense of loss in this, and an equally moving tribute by Richard Dawkins at the end of the book, is keen. The subtitle of the book 'Hitchhiking the galaxy for one last time' captures the excitement of the prospect of being allowed into Douglas Adams' universe once more ... but also the sadness that it genuinely will only be once more...
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Graeme Smith on 1 July 2002
Format: Hardcover
There are all sorts of reasons why The Salmon of Doubt should never have appeared. Adams himself never chose to publish his collected articles, letters and speeches, and he was patently unhappy with the way the third, unfinished, Dirk Gently novel was going - so why should anyone else take the decision to publish for him?
It's hard to justify, but I'm glad they did. Douglas Adams was always more interesting when he was writing about subjects which touched his passions, rather than taking us on the flights of fancy that made up his fiction - brilliant though that was - and perhaps more than anything Adams would have himself chosen to publish in the one place, this collection gives an insight into a constantly inquiring mind which had developed a very logical yet very human world-view. Adams' passions - rock music, Bach, conservation, atheism, missing deadlines - glow out from these pages.
The unfinished Dirk Gently novel is, perhaps, more frustrating than enlightening, stopping abruptly as it does. It seems disjointed - I'm not convinced by the way it has been edited together, but since we're not likely ever to see the source material, I can't really comment there.
The inclusion of the running order for his memorial service at the end also seems unnecessarily morbid - surely this publication should be celebrating a life rather than marking a death? But then, if Dave Gilmour was to play "Wish You Were Here" at my funeral, I think I'd want people to know about it.
Not one for those who have read no Adams, but an interesting rounding-off of a far-too-short career for the rest of us.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Peter Hunt on 17 Aug. 2006
Format: Paperback
If you are a fan of Douglas Adams' fiction, then this book is well worth getting. Although it contains mostly non-fiction essays, articles and interviews, they are very entertaining, and have the same sharp, witty and informative voice as his fiction works.

Adams was clearly an extremely intelligent and perceptive man, and his ability to make wry but penetrating observations in a clear, concise and entertaining way is displayed here again and again. These essays run the gamut from the hilarious to the deeply moving - sometimes within the same article.

The unfinished novel, The Salmon of Doubt, is interesting, but somewhat frustrating to read, as none of the disparate elements quite come together. As a work in progress, it sadly needed a lot more work done to it to bring it up to Adams' usual standard.

I deduct one star because the collection is not *quite* what was promised. Initially, we were told in press releases that this book would contain much of the unpublished material found on Adams' laptop after his death. However, apart from the novel excerpt, nearly all the material has been published before, either in magazines, newspapers or online. It's great to have it all in one place, but a lot of it we've seen before.

Nevertheless, as a tribute to Adams' life as a novelist and journalist, this book is as close to perfect as it can be. After reading The Salmon of Doubt, I both marvelled at Adams' genius, and mourned his untimely passing.

Ah Douglas, you left us far too soon.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 30 May 2002
Format: Hardcover
When this book turned up on my desk at work, I tore open the wrapping and started reading it there and then. Much chortling (and no small amount of guffawing) later, I had to return to work. But the book left its mark on me, in the form of a huge wave of melancholy...
You see, Mr. Adams is gone. The genius and extremely tall gentleman who breathed life into Dentarthurdent and changed the name of Svlad Cjelli into something altogether more pronounceable has gone to amuse the inhabitants of an altogether nicer place, and the world is a duller place for it.
What we have left to remember him by is this, a half-finished novel, a collection of contemplations, some book introductions, interviews, and short things that can only be described as sentences. Tell you what, it's bloody genius. Maybe it's because he's writing for himself a lot of the time, I don't know, but it really is genius.
Buy it, and remember him as I think he would have liked to be remembered. As someone who really knew how to make you laugh.
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