The Salmon of Doubt

ISBN: 0345460952
ISBN 13: 9780345460950
By: Douglas Adams Terry Jones

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About this book

Douglas Adams changed the face of science fiction (to a uniquely and irresistible funny one) with his cosmically comic novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the x, and its classic sequels. Sadly for his countless admirers, he hitched his own ride to the great beyond much too soon. But for anyone who ever laughed out loud at the absurdist adventures of Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect, chuckled knowingly at the daffy definitions in The Meaning of Liff, or experienced the wonders of encountering endangered species in Last Chance to See, here's a wonderful opportunity to revel in the droll wit, off-the-wall humor, and keenly inquiring mind of Douglas Adams just one more time.Culled posthumously from Adams's fleet of beloved Macintosh computers, this selection of essays, articles, anecdotes, and stories offers a fascinating and intimate portrait of the multifaceted artist--as a devout Beatles and Bach fan, radical atheist, enthusiastic technophobe, crusading conservationist, and of course delightful wordsmith.Join him on an excursion to climb Kilimanjaro...dressed in a rhino costume; peek into the private life of Genghis Khan--warrior, conqueror, and world-class neurotic; root for the harried author's efforts to get a Hitchhiker movie off the ground in Hollywood; thrill to (and laugh at) the further exploits of private eye Dirk Gently and two-headed alien Zaphod Beeblebrox. In the immortal words of The Hitchhiker's Guide, "Don't panic!"--though our friend Douglas Adams is hone, he's left us something very special to remember him by. Without a doubt.

Reader's Thoughts

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.

Traummachine

3.5 stars:This posthumous release was a fun hodgepodge of Adams material. A lot of it is non-fiction: articles and essays about his work, his love of technology and gadgets, his nose, and more. If I remember right, there are only 2 fiction pieces included: a version of the short "Young Zaphod Plays It Safe" and his incomplete novel The Salmon of Doubt."Young Zaphod Plays It Safe" has been included in several Hitchhiker's collections, but apparently the version here is more explicit about who Adams means at the end. The Salmon of Doubt is obviously a work in progress but still fun and still obviously Adams. He said it felt more like a Hitchhiker story to him and that he planned to rewrite it as one, but I really enjoyed it as a Dirk Gently story too. Like the rest of this collection, the version here is a mishmash.The non-fiction was interesting and fun too. Every word is definitely Adams, even when he's talking about decisions Apple made that he's unhappy with, and personally I enjoyed every minute of it. I take that back, the Editor's Note, Prologue, and Forward were by other folks, but I think the very fact that there was an Editor's Note as well as a Prologue as well as a Forward felt very appropriate for Douglas Adams.He'll definitely be missed.

DDog

This was a fascinating book. It took me forever to read it as I only picked it up a few pages at a time, but that allowed me to savor the enjoyment. I hD never read any of Adams' essays or interviews that I can recall, only the fiction, so it was interesting to get another look at the way he thought. Reading things he wrote about computers in the '90s was especially fun, because we're living a lot of his predictions now. In the end the book has an appropriately unfinished feeling; you don't want it to end, yet it does, on a peculiar note and too soon.

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)

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

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.

Karen Terrell

Ohmygosh. I found myself grieving at the end of this book - all teary-eyed and sniffling - it felt like I was saying a final good bye to a dear friend. This was Adams's last book - compiled and arranged in the year after his death by his friends and editors. Coming to the end of Salmon of Doubt, and realizing there'd be no more words written by Adams, was really hard for me. I loved this book. The humor, the whimsy, Adams's unique take on the world - it was all there. I wish I'd gotten to know his writing while he was here with us - and I'm so sorry he no longer is.

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.

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.

Alan

Douglas Adams was brilliant—and it pains me to have to put that in the past tense. His novel-in-progress, The Salmon of Doubt, was cut short by Adams' untimely death in 2001. But this posthumous collection of miscellany from his computer's hard drive, also called The Salmon of Doubt, showcases Adams' brilliance, and is a worthy addition to his canon.There's not much of the planned novel here—just a few chapters, and that's not what impressed me most about this collection anyway. The things that amazed me most about The Salmon of Doubt were: first, the breadth and depth of Adams' interests, as revealed here particularly in his discussions of Last Chance to See, written with Mark Carwardine, a serious attempt to document and, perhaps, even save some of Earth's vanishing species. And, second, the evidence of Adams' prescience when it came to computing and the Internet. Far from being just a comedic writer, the interviews and excerpts included here show clearly that Adams had his finger on the pulse of the Internet, more so than many self-acclaimed pundits and insiders. He foresaw the importance of wirelessness, for example, and the utility of thumbs for texting, well before such things were common knowledge.The Salmon of Doubt isn't a complete novel, and never will be now—and that is tragic. But The Salmon of Doubt is one last amazing glimpse into Adams' mind, and for that I am grateful.

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.

Nathaniel Chew

tragically interrupted :'(

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?

Lena

This is a delightful and maddening book. This collection of essays, columns, speech transcripts and random musings was culled from Adams' computers after his tragic death at the age of 49. The collection offers new insight into one of the world's most gifted humorists, and there is both pleasure and education to be had in reading his thoughts on such diverse topics as music, atheism, evolutionary biology, conservation and computers.The last section of the book contains the beginning of an unfinished Dirk Gently novel tentatively titled The Salmon of Doubt. Though Adams was an avowed atheist, the frustration I felt at having this tale end so abruptly was enough to make me wish he's wrong about the afterlife and hope some trance channel will track him down in the ethers so we can all find out just who was sending Mr. Gently those wire transfers and what, exactly, the rhinoceros was doing on the highway to Santa Fe.

Sherry

This book was a most enjoyable collection of Douglas Adams' essays, short stories, lectures, and ten fun chapters of a sort-of Salmon of Doubt novel. The lecture "Is there an artificial God?" was chocked full of Adam's unique sense of the absurd, and I liked it an awfully lot. Since these writings were gathered posthumously, it sure made me want to finally get around to reading all of his novels that I haven't read, yet, cuz there'll be no mas. Sad. I'm definitely going to read those Dirk Gently novels now. Life, the universe and everything as explained by Douglas Adams ... "provoking thoughts you didn't know you had."“All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others.” ― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

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