Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time

ISBN: 1417622857
ISBN 13: 9781417622856
By: Douglas Adams Christopher Cerf

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About this book

From the unfathomable imagination of Douglas Adams-his internationally bestselling final book; a zany collection of essays, articles, anecdotes, and stories.

Reader's Thoughts

Jenn

I highly recommend this book for any Douglas Adams lover!This book is an amalgam of several of Douglas Adams works, including letters and article he wrote during his lifetime. Made me nostalgic for what could have been if he had lived longer and gave us more.

Ippino

Passata l'iniziale diffidenza verso questo genere di operazioni, che mi sembrano sempre molto commerciali e prive di amore verso gli autori scomparsi, mi sono trovato davanti qualcosa di gradevole e gustoso.La prima metà, saggistica, è buona, con articoli ed aneddoti su vari aspetti dell'ingegno umano e dell'umana condizione, che fanno riflettere, sorridere, interrogarsi. Certo, alcuni sono un pò sottotono, ma tutti hanno il pregio di farci conoscere meglio questo autore, le sue idee ed il suo modo di pensare.La seconda parte contiene un breve racconto dell'universo della Guida Galattica ("Sicuro, sicurissimo, perfettamente sicuro") ed i primi capitoli de "Il salmone del dubbio", nuova avventura del detective olistico Dirk Gently, incompiuta.Questa parte è tanto meravigliosa, nella misura in cui amate questo autore: se la Guida Galattica vi ha lasciati indifferenti, non troverete nulla di interessante. Se Dirk Gently non vi è piaciuto, odierete lo spreco di pagine dedicato alla sua nuova avventura, anche se incompiuta.Ma se viceversa li avete apprezzati, troverete "pane per i vostri denti": storie e personaggi assurdi, stravaganti, a tratti follemente divertenti.Personalmente ho gradito molto la parte saggistica, perchè mostra l'uomo, prima dello scrittore. Un uomo arguto e sagace, raffinato nell'intelletto, dannatamente "british", capace di tratteggiare situazioni ed idiosincrasie del nostro tempo.Viceversa il racconto incompleto di Gently, proprio perchè incompleto lascia l'amaro in bocca.

Glenn

While many of the pieces included in this collection were, a) entertaining, b) somewhat informative, c) diverse, and d) well written peeks into the beliefs and personality of the author, the overall effect was also, e) incomplete. Of course that's to be understood, as it IS a posthumous gathering of magazine articles, interviews, and an unfinished 'Dirk Gently' story. One does wonder, however, if it was really necessary to publish "The Salmon of Doubt". Being as unfinished and maybe haphazardly thrown together as it sort of appears, do you think Mr. Adams himself would really have wanted to attach his name to this? For all the good intentions involved, and the glorious little bits of wisdom and humor contained therein, "Salmon" still feels more like a tease than a satisfying conclusion. It is understandable that fans of Douglas Adams may hunger for any scrap they haven't yet read by the man before his unexpected departure (Mr. Adams died suddenly, of a heart attack, in 2001), but overall, in my opinion, the assembly of the contents here feels rushed, desperately collected and lashed together, just so readers could feel as if it were that proper last goodbye. Is it? In my opinion, no. It is perhaps a sincere tribute put together by friends and admirers, but no, not a fitting conclusion.

Johnny

In early 1998 (or was it ‘97?), I experienced one of the most heady experiences of my life. A literary idol approached me at a conference we were attending in France (it was in Cannes, but it was a media festival rather than the more famous annual event), invited me to join him at dinner and debate the existence of God. Douglas Adams, self-proclaimed radical atheist, wanted to consider God’s existence (or lack thereof) with me. As a minister, I’d like to write myself in as the hero and claim that I at least put a dent in the famous atheist’s armor. We had a fascinating conversation and I’d like to think that I pushed him into rethinking his position, but that’s not very realistic. Hang on! This does relate to this collection of Adams’ writing in his last years, especially those reprinted in The Salmon of Doubt.In our discussion, I pulled out the well-worn rubber duck of apologetics. I told him that he was dishonest in calling himself an atheist instead of an agnostic. I didn’t realize that this was the most offensive opening I could try. I hadn’t read his interview with American Atheists where he asserted that Agnostic did not adequately express his position because he was “convinced that there is no God.” (p. 96) But I blundered into the conversation with my classic approach that it is intellectual arrogance to claim to “know” that there is no God by appealing to an illustration in one of Rudy Rucker’s books on multidimensionality. This took my literary hero off guard because “multidimensionality” was a great fascination for him. I told him that certainty of the non-existence of God might well be trying to decide a multidimensional issue via the limited dimensions we have discovered in our empirical science. Then, I conceded that being “convinced” was different than “knowing,” but that it wasn’t objectively any better than a person of faith being “convinced.” I scored the opening round a stand-off. I’m not sure what Adams would have scored it. He must have been somewhat satisfied because he shifted gears.He told me that there was no rational need for the existence of God. This, of course, is a different question. Unlike my typical sermon, I opted to walk the tightrope of suggested that God is a useful concept—EVEN (don’t be horrified at my speculation, true believers) if a personal God didn’t exist. I told him that I personally believe in a personal God, but for purposes of discussion, we should consider whether there really was no rational need for the existence of God. I asserted that, contrary to Adams’ hero Richard Dawkins for whom I expressed admiration for his science and reservation for his assertions which went beyond the acceptable evidence, the idea of God was more helpful than harmful.Adams was skeptical (duh!) and attempted two analogies which I found interesting. He pulled some British currency out of his wallet and suggested that burning it wouldn’t warm you, eating it wouldn’t feed you, and wearing it wouldn’t cover you, but that it had purchasing power because the state stood behind it. But, he suggested that you need the assurance that the state exists in order for the currency to have any effect whatsoever. I countered (maybe a feeble parry at best) that, for the bulk of the British population, they had no idea of the nature of money supply, national deficit, budget viability, and governmental oversight of that currency but had an essential faith in the government. One doesn’t have to have all of the economics behind the currency explained satisfactorily in order to use the money. In the same way, one doesn’t have to understand everything about God in order to benefit from the idea of God. Therefore, there may well be a rational need for God. Before I explain the next analogy, imagine my amazement to see the late 1998 speech from Adams that was reprinted in The Salmon of Doubt: “Money is a completely fictitious entity, but it’s very powerful in our world; we all have wallets, which have got notes in them, but what can these notes do? You can’t breed them, you can’t stir-fry them, you can’t live in them, there’s absolutely nothing you can do with them, other than exchange them with each other—and as soon as we exchange them with each other, all sorts of powerful things happen, because it’s a fiction that we’ve all subscribed to. …if the money vanished, the entire cooperative structure that we have would implode.” (p. 140) Did our discussion bear fruit? Adams didn’t change his mind about the existence of God. He merely recognized the utility of the concept of God. Egotistically, I had thought to convince him one step at a time, but perhaps, I merely pushed him to fortify and develop his philosophical position to allow for a utilitarian (he called it “artificial”) God. The conversation was still stimulating, especially so when Adams began to expound about Feng Shui. Now, maybe I wasn’t listening, but I thought he was expressing skepticism about Feng Shui, so I said that it wouldn’t really make any different that he and I don’t believe that dragons exist, but that the concept of the dragon may help people design more comfortable and functional living spaces even if no dragon ever sets foot in the dwelling (and presumably they would not). Therefore, I suggested that even if I was wrong about the personal God whom I serve, my life may be better and more meaningful as a result of my conceptual idea of God’s involvement in my life. Now, admittedly, Adams’ hero of evolutionary arrogance (Richard Dawkins) wouldn’t concede this as said individual perceives the very concept to be harmful due to the fundamentalist extremes which have wreaked havoc in human history, but it seemed like the approach caused Adams to pause. Again, that could be arrogance on my part. I WISH I had impacted Adams and this could merely be wish-fulfillment. However, I was delighted to read on p. 146: “You figure out how the dragon’s going to be happy here, and lo, and behold, you’ve suddenly got a place that makes sense for other organic creatures, such as ourselves, to live in.” Do I think I won a debate with this man who was, in so many ways, my intellectual superior? Naaah! I just like to think that our conversation pushed him in a direction he was already considering. Do I wish I could have convinced him of the existence of a personal God who cared about Him and wanted to be involved in his life and life’s work? Absolutely! Do I still admire him as a person and his creative output? Absolutely!There were a few other lines that I really enjoyed in this book of essays, interviews, introductions to books, albums, and concerts, speeches, and rambling thoughts before I got into what I really procured the book to read, the last Dirk Gently story. I loved his line about art when he said, “I think the idea of art kills creativity.” (p. 158) And, I loved the story about his awkward experience in the train station with the cookies (pp. 150-151). It appears that he was sharing a table while waiting for a train. He had his coffee and a packet of cookies along with his morning newspaper. As he was reading his paper, the fellow reached over, opened the bag of cookies, too one out and began to eat it. Some British reserve kept him from confronting the man for his effrontery, so they actually ate the cookies in uncomfortable silence one-for-one. When the man left, Adams moved his paper and discovered an identical, but unopened bag of cookies under his paper. He was amused that he had thought so ill of the man while he was erroneously consuming the other man’s cookies. And he knew why this had occurred, but the other man never discovered the punch line. In the U.S., of course, there would have been a loud vocal confrontation at the very least. As for the title piece, the bare-bones portion of the unfinished Salmon of Doubt, it was delightful—even in its admittedly unpolished form. I followed the tortured logic of the cabbie who assumed that since people said, “Follow that cab!” in the movies and he, having had a long tenure as a cabbie had never heard that phrase, he must indeed have been the cab that all other cabs were following (pp. 249-250). I rolled my eyes with empathy when Dirk discovered a freezer cabinet full of “old, white, clenched things that he was now too frightened to try to identify.” (p. 226) I chuckled at the description of Gently’s office that was “old and dilapidated and remained standing more out of habit rather than from any inherent structural integrity” (p. 238) I really loved the slam on typical airline personnel speak (Airline Syllable Stress Syndrome—p. 253). I was sad that the book wasn’t complete, even in its current form.

Maggard

This makes a good case for NOT publishing everything found around the house after an otherwise-brilliant author kicks the bucket.

Katherine Furman

If you love Douglas Adams this book is an absolute must read. It's got some great incite into the man who could make a pot of petunias think to itself, 'Not again.' A large part of my enjoyment was finding out about Adams as a person, and in turn finding out that I've got some stuff in common with him. I mean sure I haven't ridden a stingray like he has or written the funniest books of all time and granted I'm not British, BUT we do make our tea the same way, we're both have the same religious beliefs in our complete lack of having them (did you know atheists have conventions? I didn't), and, well I can't think of another one right now, but we're like peas in a pod. Trust me.Plus he recommends some great authors and tells some hysterical true stories. Damn it, I miss him. As much as you can miss someone you never met anyway, which believe me is a LOT.

Tortla

Douglas Adams was a clever, intelligent man. This compilation of his essays, short stories, interviews, and what they could scrounge up of the work-in-progress "The Salmon of Doubt" (unfinished due to his untimely death in 2001) makes for a nice homage to the man. Also, it's amusing to see his name abbreviated to DNA in interviews.

Aaron

I loved this. Not all of it, but the parts at the beginning. This is not a book, or rather, it is not a coherent story. Douglas Adams was working towards a book called the Salmon of Doubt when he died. This is a collection of writing, which includes many of the things he had written which may, or may not have ended up on his book. There are also many writings by other people, people who know Douglas Adams. I laughed and I cried many times as I listened to this. This book will do little or nothing for someone who has little or no experience with Douglas Adams. If you want to experience what I have experienced, and get the full effect of this book, you must first listen to the BBC radio recordings of the Hitchhiker's Guide series. Then I'd recommend watching the BBC TV show, then I would read or listen to the novels, and finally, watch the movie. If I am not mistaken, this is the order in which he wrote them, although I am not convinced he actually had much to do with the TV show. There are also the Dirk Gently books, which you can read or listen to at any point, as long as they are after the radio broadcasts and before this book. We lost a genius when we lost Douglas Adams. If you are a friend of mine, I am sure you've had some experience of Mr. Adams, but perhaps you haven't had the full experience. I highly recommend it.

Mpr

This work is unpolished, unfinished, and it's totally obvious. It cuts off as abruptly as the final piece of Bach (BWV 1080), leaving a vague disappointment and a void that won't ever be filled. I never met Douglas Adams, and I'll never have a chance to, but perhaps one day I'll visit his grave.Douglas Adams was unique in his ability for existential satire. From his portrayal of transgalactic airports to the way Norse gods would act in modern London, all his work shows a delightful talent for combining the surreal and the mundane. He mixes them, like a fancy drink, garnishes it, and offers you one of the most pleasingly different word cocktails that you'll ever taste.The Salmon of Doubt didn't contain this in the same density as his other novels, and perhaps if I were reading it without the necessary context of his writings I would be left confused and underwhelmed. But knowing Adams' oeuvre makes it almost-make-sense, in the way the first cut-off half of an absurdly complicated mystery novel might. I'm rating this five stars regardless of the unpolished writing because of the emotions it instills in me- the guaranteed sadness, the sense that I lost someone important to me before I'd ever even met him.

ringoallavaniglia

Potrei scrivere un fiume di parole su quanto apprezzi l'Adams scrittore e l'uomo, quanto condivida le sue idee (a parte sulla Apple, ma se vedesse cosa è diventata credo si schiferebbe anche lui)e su quanto la sua scomparsa mi rattristi molto più di quanto sarebbe lecito aspettarsi. Ma non è il caso.Questo libro raccoglie tante interviste, aneddoti ed idee che raccontano molto su chi era Adams; quindi se avete apprezzato i suoi libri e desiderate scoprire qualcosa su di lui è la lettura giusta.Inoltre contiene la prima bozza incompiuta del nuovo romanzo di Dirk Gently.. e accidenti non saprò mai che cavolo doveva combinare con quel rinoceronte!

Buck Ward

The Salmon of Doubt is a collection of Douglas Adams’ writings gleaned from his hard drive by his friends and family and published after his untimely death. If you are an Adams fan, I’m sure you will enjoy this.I heard the audiobook version which started with eulogies from some of his notable friends. Most of the book is essays and musings written in the nineties, some of which are clever and amusing. Adams had a penchant for electronic devices, computers and gizmos and he wrote copiously about such things. Unfortunately they are quite a bit dated, being from two decades ago. He would have loved smart phones and iPads.There are two works of fiction towards the end of the book. The first is an inane story having something to do with spaceship beings and lobsters. (This is the only science fiction in the book, and I use that term advisedly.) The second is The Salmon of Doubt, a story with Adams’ character Dirk Gently, an inept private detective. It wasn’t particularly good.

Sho

I wrote a lovely review, detailing my history with Douglas Adams, listening to the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy at school, buying The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul by accident and having a friend introduce me to the first Dirk Gently book.Followed by discovering the Earth edition of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (h2g2.com - go on, have a look, it's fantastic).But it vanished. So all I'm going to say is that the brilliance displayed in some of Douglas Adams' writing makes me want to cry. And that reading The Salmon of Doubt on the train, laughing out loud, made people stare at me. When I came to the end of all that we have of what would have been the third Dirk Gently book I got a bit sad because... well, we'll never know how it was supposed to end. And why was the rhinocerous called Desmond?(oh and I first bought this when it came out in 2002 - I love that I can find this info from Amazon) so I read it then too. But my copy seems to have vanished so I got a "new" one to replace it, which mysteriously found its way onto my "to read" pile)

stormhawk

A book by Douglas Adams. Well, it's not actually by him, except in the sense that they were words that he wrote, mostly in that order. But he was dead when it was published. Collection of some previously published essays and the fragments of his final novel, which was harvested in bits from filing cabinets and from the hard drive of his computer, including some bits that weren't meant to be seen by the general public, as they were deleted, but someone foolhardily recovered the bits and slapped them back together to make money. Adams died so young that my sense of what is right in the world insists that I cling to a conspiratoratical hope that he was a very shy and private man thrust into too many spotlights because of his fame and having failed at politely asking people to just go away and leave him alone, he had to resort to publishing notices of his death so that he could quietly live on the considerable savings from his books.Come on, haven't you read Christopher Moore and wondered about the possibility?

Nathaniel Chew

tragically interrupted :'(

Melissa Diaz

Published upon his death The Salmon of Doubt is Douglas Adams' final work. It is composed of various interviews, speeches, observations, short stories and the beginning of a new Dirk Gently novel. It is a combination of technology, science, fiction and humor. (It is also the title I assumed would be my fiftieth.) I liked the book, but think I would have liked it more had I heeded the advice on the back cover and not read it straight through. There's not enough continuity to make it that kind of book. (Apparently the fact that it's a compilation of items rather than a story was not a big enough clue for me.)Favorite Quotes:"I only knew that the Beatles were the most exciting thing in the universe. It wasn't always an easy view to live with. First you had to fight the Stones fans, which was tricky because they fought dirty and had their knuckles nearer to the ground.""Obviously the Sub Bug wins some points for being portable up to a point. You can take it on a plane, which you wouldn't do with a manta ray, or at least not with a manta ray you liked, and I think that we probably like all manta rays on principle really, don't we?""He moved his horse slowly forward and surveyed the small group of peasant huts that stood huddled together in the centre of the clearing, trying very hard at short notice to look deserted.""There is a particular disdain with which Siamese cats regard you. Anyone who has accidentally walked in on the Queen cleaning her teeth will be familiar with this feeling."Overall Opinion:Unless you're an Adams' fanatic and looking to read everything he ever wrote on any subject then take it slowly. Read something else at the same time and you'll enjoy The Salmon of Doubt more than I did.Rating:6

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