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Past Group Book Discussions > Dirk Gentlys Holistic Detective Agency - Discussion and Reviews

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message 1: by Simon (Highwayman) (last edited Jan 16, 2012 03:26AM) (new)


message 2: by Nell (last edited Jan 17, 2012 12:32PM) (new)

Nell Grey (nellgrey) | 211 comments I was wondering when the discussion would be opened, because my memories of the book are swimming away like elusive little fishes.

Definitely an original, clever and admirable novel with twists, turns and illusions - rather like sleight of hand performed by a time-travelling magician.

I loved the allusions and parallels that I noticed, especially the ones about Kubla Khan, Coleridge's mysterious poem, said to be written after an opium-induced dream, the completion of which was interrupted by the arrival of a person from Porlock. Strangely, just after I'd finished the book I saw part of a programme called Unfinished Masterpieces in which Andrew Motion was speaking of Khubla Khan, and put forward the idea that perhaps there was no such person (from Porlock), that the poem was simply unresolved and better left in this mysterious state with the accompanying story than finished and losing that delicious sense of strangeness. I think he might have something there.

I did find trying to note and remember all the seemingly important 'clues' in the first third of the story a slight strain, but settled in as soon as Dirk arrived on the scene and really enjoyed the middle. I felt that it ended rather suddenly, almost as if Douglas Adams had exhausted the possibilities of cleverness and wanted to move on to something new.

A question though: What was it that Gordon said to Susan when he finally got through on the soft telephone - was it simply that he was dead, and if so was this significant to the plot in any way other than the obvious one?


Darren Humphries (Darrenhf) | 5781 comments Douglas Adams was famous for finding it hard (let's say impossible) to meet deadlines and I have a feeling that he simply dashed off an ending to please the publisher, leaving parts of the plot unfinished and rendering some of it rather pointless. What is Gordon's part in proceedings other than to be dead?

It is interesting to note that the alien's plan regarding the spaceship in the distant past was used in the Doctor Who episode CITY OF DEATH which was written (in part at least) by the script editor of the time - one Douglas Adams.


message 4: by Nell (last edited Jan 18, 2012 04:59AM) (new)

Nell Grey (nellgrey) | 211 comments It's odd how writers often touch the same ground again. I've been editing my first novel to publish as a Kindle and was surprised to hear the sources of echoes from later books.

Re. Gordon though, his ghost did have the task of scaring and implicating Richard in his murder and adding to the tension. I was surprised at how casually that tension was sent packing when he's told he's not under suspicion at all. I have to admit to feeling slightly cheated at that point.

I think the Electric Monks are probably all Death from the tarot...

I'm glad the horse was OK.


Jud (Disney Diva) (Judibud) | 15852 comments I was disappointed with this, I felt that the (very quick) ending was what Douglas Adams was trying to make into a story but ended up padding it out with a load of unnecessary story lines and characters and having the good bit squeezed into the last few chapters.


Kath Middleton | 16959 comments It's way better than the book by Colfer (off-hand I can't spell his first name!) that was supposed to be a follow-up to the Hitch-hiker's books. Darren could have done it better!


Gingerlily - Elephant Philosopher | 25647 comments Ignite wrote: "It's way better than the book by Colfer (off-hand I can't spell his first name!) that was supposed to be a follow-up to the Hitch-hiker's books. Darren could have done it better!"

Darren can definitely do it better! Than Eoin Wossname anyway.


Darren Humphries (Darrenhf) | 5781 comments Yes, that was a pretty poor addition to the Hitch-hiker series and I thank you for your kind consideration for the job, but I don't think the publisher's listening.


Kath Middleton | 16959 comments More fool him/her/it.


Jud (Disney Diva) (Judibud) | 15852 comments I don't understand why people do that? Why try to piggy back on someone else's success by adding another book onto a successful series, has anyone ever done well out of doing this? Eoin Colfer was already an established author with his own stuff so why try to do someone elses?


Nell Grey (nellgrey) | 211 comments I can't think of anyone who's succeeded at this - the odds of failing must surely outweigh any chance of success, no matter how brilliant the author in their own right.


Emma (Em or Emz) (emzibah) | 3910 comments Did anyone read the new Sherlock Holmes book? wonder how that compares. I love Conan Doyle's work, can Horowitz make it work?


Darren Humphries (Darrenhf) | 5781 comments Nell wrote: "I can't think of anyone who's succeeded at this - the odds of failing must surely outweigh any chance of success, no matter how brilliant the author in their own right."

Ah, but the lure of all that money. There is, after all, a guaranteed market.


Gingerlily - Elephant Philosopher | 25647 comments Well to a point. If its is really bad word will get out pretty quickly and the market will dry up.


Nell Grey (nellgrey) | 211 comments That's the thing, I don't think think it would even have to be be bad, just unequal to the original/s, so the author's at a disadvantage from the outset. I can't see trying to match books and series that often border on the cultish doing anyone's reputation any good.


Patti (baconater) (Goldengreene) | 41847 comments Hasn't VC Andrews daughter or someone taken over that, think I'll call it a franchise.

It still seems to be going strong, judging by the covers I've seen in bookshops and whatnot.


Darren Humphries (Darrenhf) | 5781 comments The thing is that the author had his own books doing well so it was unlikely to damage his reputation with his own fans and could have brought in a legion of others. It's a calculated risk. If you were an relative unknown then it could really damage you.


Paul (latepaul) I enjoyed this book. I first read it when it came out and it was fun to read something that unlike like the H2G2 books had been through so many incarnations.

I like the playfulness, the cleverness and the characters. Reg is great fun as is Dirk himself.

I did have a question mark over the ending - what exactly was in the second part of the poem that had to be removed? The implication is that the ghost possessed Coleridge and he wrote something into the poem that the ghost then used a few hundred years later - but then the ghost already knew that stuff. Another theory is that the poem contained information about the existence of a time machine. But the comment about the poem is "it was almost an instruction manual" which in context sounds like it's more about fixing the alien ship rather than using the time machine.

Still it seems I'm in good company in not quite knowing what's going on :)

I also reviewed this book on my blog here.


message 19: by S.C. (last edited Jan 26, 2012 03:43AM) (new)

S.C. Skillman (sheilarobinson1) | 3 comments I love Douglas Adams' books,and admire his cleverness, wit and brilliance. See the new post on my blog just this morning called "Virgin Births, Electric Monks and Troublesome Beliefs". As you can see, Douglas Adams' electric monk makes a reappearance!
SC Skillman
www.scskillmanblogspot.wordpress.com


James Everington | 14 comments I love this book; the electronic monk is one of my favourite characters in all of literature...


Nell Grey (nellgrey) | 211 comments Paul wrote: I did have a question mark over the ending - what exactly was in the second part of the poem that had to be removed?

Surely the point is that the second part of the poem wasn't written and therefore doesn't exist in this world, so we'll never know what was in it. It's an enigma...


Paul (latepaul) Nell wrote: "Paul wrote: I did have a question mark over the ending - what exactly was in the second part of the poem that had to be removed?

Surely the point is that the second part of the poem wasn't written and therefore doesn't exist in this world, so we'll never know what was in it. It's an enigma... "


But the reason it wasn't written because they go back in time and interrupt Coleridge (Dirk becoming the "person from Porlock"), and they do that because as Reg says:

"All the instructions were clearly contained in the piece once you knew what you were looking for. It has to be suppressed."

In other words in a previous timeline (one also without Bach, or at least some of his music) the second half of the poem was written and it contained these "instructions" whatever they were.

And it's these instructions that allow the ghost to either go back in time and/or know how to fix the spaceship once he gets there, so it doesn't blow up thereby creating life on earth. So in order to save humanity in the present day they have to make sure the instructions never get written down.

Re-reading it I'm more inclined to the theory that it's the time machine the instructions refer to - though it's not clear why Coleridge knew them in order to be able to put them in his poem.


Nell Grey (nellgrey) | 211 comments I understood that to mean that the poem was complete and entire in Coleridge's head, and the way it was suppressed was to send the "person from Porlock" when he was only halfway through transcribing it in order to interrupt him and make him forget the rest...

But, somewhat like Coleridge, I've actually forgotten at least half of the book now - even without people from Porlock knocking - I'd have to read it again to check if I still think that's what seemed (to me) to happen.


Joo (Jooo) | 1266 comments I just spotted an advert on BBC. The new series starts on BBC4 on Monday 4th March.


Simon (Highwayman) (highwayman) | 4563 comments I saw that Joo. I had such a different mental image of dirk gently it spoilt the last series a bit for me but I will be tuning in.


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