The Salmon of Doubt by Douglas Adams and Stephen Fry
|The Salmon of Doubt by Douglas Adams and Stephen Fry|
|Reviewer: Dave Martin|
|Summary: Published after the death of Douglas Adams 'The Salmon of Doubt' lives up to the hype and expectations, but beware, it is not a further episode of 'The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy' even if the cover might suggest that it is.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 336||Date: January 2003|
The Salmon of Doubt both excited and surprised me. Published posthumously following the unexpected death of Douglas Adams, I expected it to be another installment of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. The longest trilogy in the history of the universe, is the work for which Adams is famous worldwide. Unfortunately, you will not find Marvin the paranoid android in The Salmon Of Doubt, nor will you find Arthur Dent. This is a masterstroke of devious publishing, particularly as the book is sub-titled, "Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time". If you are expecting any of the above then you may well feel cheated.
However, from the moment you read the enthusiastic note from the editor, you can see that The Salmon of Doubt is a book that has been collected by fans, for fans. I admit to being sceptical of a foreword by Stephen Fry as I tend to find him intelligent, but irritating. However, this actor/presenter was a close friend to Adams and provides an impassioned introduction to his work from his "hotel room in Peru". His tribute is inspired and obviously sincere. Fry writes of a confident yet irritating man who required great patience to be around. He talks of his genius and progression from wannabe Monty Python star at Cambridge to the man of the "perfect metaphor". The foreword is both an insightful look into Adams's psyche and, in a tale of reverence provides almost a eulogy to the man.
This book could have been a cash-in on a great man's name. You may not find what you were expecting, but you will find an eclectic mix of Adams writings, many of which have never been published before. You will find musings and notes, interviews and snippets and even the Holy Grail itself; short story revolving around a young Zaphod Beeblebrox the two-headed alien infamous in the Hitchhiker's series.
The whole collection reads like a tribute to the man's genius and is presented in a semi-autobiographical style. For every story or anecdote, there is an interview or letter to his publisher. This book is as good as it gets in terms of getting inside the mind of the mad genius himself. His frustration at the "constipation" evident in his many attempts to get Hitchhikers made into a Hollywood film are plain to see in letters to Disney and colleagues about the lack of progress being made. There are several interviews regarding his proclaimed atheism and it is fascinating to hear the background to his beliefs from a strict religious upbringing to the staunch non-believer he eventually became.
However, all of this is merely the tip of the iceberg. I could tell you a little bit about each part of this scrapbook of musings and writings but I have no doubt that would spoil the excitement when you come to read it. What I will say is that this book is a must have for an Adams fan, be it from the several forms of Hitchhikers (radio, computer game, book etc.) or those who have come to him on the back of his "Dirk Gently" books.
Incidentally, the main reason many will buy this book will be for the eight chapters of the never to be completed Dirk Gently novel "Salmon of Doubt". I have never been a fan of the eccentric detective, but I must admit the explanation of the creative process to writing this novel is fascinating. The eight chapters included show a great deal of promise with flashes of wit, humour and laugh aloud moments consistent in Adams' publishings since Hitchhikers was first created. Again, I refuse to spoil your enjoyment of this, the final publishing of Adams's greatness, but needless to say, it involves half a cat, a God of Thunder and a Tornado Jet.
This book is as eclectic a collection as the late great man was eclectic himself. It is certainly not for anyone, but for those with a passion for his work this is the last thing you will read of Adams and contains so much of what made him one of the best. Let us be upstanding for Douglas Adams and his "Salmon of Doubt". Undoubtedly "Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time".
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I adored The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and was hesitating to read "The Salmon of Doubt" in case I was disappointed. After reading this review it's gone on my "must read" list!