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Dirk Gently #3

The Salmon of Doubt

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Douglas Adams changed the face of science fiction with his cosmically comic novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and its classic sequels. Sadly for his countless admirers, he hitched his own ride to the great beyond much too soon. 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 and absurdist wordsmith.

Join Adams on an excursion to climb Kilimanjaro…dressed in a rhino costume; peek into the private life of Genghis Khan—warrior and world-class neurotic; root for the harried author’s efforts to get a Hitchhiker movie off the ground in Hollywood; thrill to the further exploits of private eye Dirk Gently and two-headed alien Zaphod Beeblebrox. Though Douglas Adams is gone, he’s left us something very special to remember him by. Without a doubt.

298 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published May 28, 2002

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About the author

Douglas Adams

114 books21.6k followers
Douglas Noël Adams was an English author, comic radio dramatist, and musician. He is best known as the author of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. Hitchhiker's began on radio, and developed into a "trilogy" of five books (which sold more than fifteen million copies during his lifetime) as well as a television series, a comic book series, a computer game, and a feature film that was completed after Adams' death. The series has also been adapted for live theatre using various scripts; the earliest such productions used material newly written by Adams. He was known to some fans as Bop Ad (after his illegible signature), or by his initials "DNA".

In addition to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams wrote or co-wrote three stories of the science fiction television series Doctor Who and served as Script Editor during the seventeenth season. His other written works include the Dirk Gently novels, and he co-wrote two Liff books and Last Chance to See, itself based on a radio series. Adams also originated the idea for the computer game Starship Titanic, which was produced by a company that Adams co-founded, and adapted into a novel by Terry Jones. A posthumous collection of essays and other material, including an incomplete novel, was published as The Salmon of Doubt in 2002.

His fans and friends also knew Adams as an environmental activist and a lover of fast cars, cameras, the Macintosh computer, and other "techno gizmos".

Toward the end of his life he was a sought-after lecturer on topics including technology and the environment.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,130 reviews
Profile Image for Jon.
Author 4 books50 followers
July 4, 2007
Readers beware: The Salmon of Doubt is not a single novel, but rather a collection of goods pulled from Adams' computer after his death--including a draft of the first few chapters of his next Dirk Gently story (also titled The Salmon of Doubt, thus the larger part of this collection's title). Also enclosed in this volume are a series of short stories, essays, travelogues, and other random snippets, some of which date back over a decade, and most of which have little to do with the next entry, except they were all written by Adams.

How, then, to review this book? How does one go about commenting on a collection of miscellanea the author never intended to exist in single-volume form? How does one offer criticism on a draft of an unfinished novel? Indeed, how does one offer any insight into a bricolage of material that, pessimistically, smacks of the publishing industry's frantic attempts to make one last posthumous dollar off of a popular writer?

I answer through a personal narrative. Any review ever published is, of course, subjective. This one is more so than even most. There's your grain of salt.

My wife bought me this book for my birthday, and I took it with me when I flew home (alone; my wife wasn't able to accompany me) the next week to visit my parents. I read the entire book in one day as I shuffled between airplanes and ticket counters, fast-food stands and uncomfortable plastic seats. Much of what appeared in Salmon... was completely new to me, as I'd somehow never read Adams' shorter works--only his novels. But in short, I was both entranced and maddened: the former at the brilliant intelligence and humor that marble-streaked its way through the pages; the latter at the frustratingly incomplete Dirk Gently novel (imagine if Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had only written the first half of "The Hound of the Baskervilles" before suddenly perishing, or if Shakespeare had never completed "Romeo and Juliet"). I saw in Salmon... sides of Adams both familiar to me, as in his intelligent satire, and unfamiliar, as in the extemporaneous and atheistic speech he delivered at Cambridge, sections of which forced me to close the cover temporarily while I pondered my own thoughts about the nature of God. Most importantly, through all of these scattered scribblings I saw the inner workings of a man who truly, admirably loved life. And as I turned the last page and stared helplessly at the blank sheet before me, and realized that I had just read the last "book" Adams would ever "publish," I was overcome with a sadness so deep and painful that I've never yet been able to even pull Salmon... off of the shelf again, much less read it.

Douglas Adams never knew I existed: we never met, exchanged correspondence, or even caught a glimpse of one another in a crowded airport. Yet I consider this man one of my dearest mentors, a man whose writing has shaped the last fifteen years of my life in areas too varied and extensive to number. How then to review a book like this? Simply put, I can't. I'm too close. Even now, five years after the only time I managed to read Salmon..., and six years after Adams' death, I'm too close.

Why, then, do I give this book five stars?

How could I not?
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,910 followers
March 27, 2017
It's really amazing the amounts of nostalgia that can build up in a person's system before it kinda explodes into a kind of reverse word soup full of interviews, introductions, epilogues, and snippets of novels we wish we had but they were never penned because the author up and died on us.

I'm writing of Douglas Adams, of course.

I almost didn't re-read this one because I remember it WAS mostly just magazine articles and interesting early computer-tech stuff and ruminations on science, god, and other random bits that fly out of this wonderful man's brain in tightly humorous one-liners that explain not only life, the universe, and everything, but also the way his mind works... and this is all DESPITE the fact that Mr. DNA may or may not have had a functional nose with which to sneeze out those humorous one-liners.

So am I rating this entirely based on a man's ability to be clear, funny, horribly learned, and dead?

Yes, but it's gotta be more than that, and indeed it is. I loved the man.

I grew up reading and re-reading HHGttG about a bazillion times with or without the cheese sandwhich, playing countless hours on the Infrogames title of the same name being simultaneously corrupted and flabbergasted by my inability to create NO TEA, and learning how to fly by distraction.

I even decided when I was fourteen that I'd grow a beard for the distinct purpose of giving some poor hapless creature a traveling burial site to not see the rest of the world through.

DNA is that kind of man to me.

This book reminds me of just how regular a human he is and it is an unabashedly wonderful nostalgia piece to boot.

Oh, and we also get a few short stories including Ghengis Kahn, a non-presidential Zaphod, and the opening to the next Dirk Gently book which would have been fantastic, I'm sure, had he written it.


Still, what a wonderful thing it is. Farewell, Mr. Adams. (Yes. I know I'm 16 years late. It's just that this book was compiled shortly after his death, so I feel it fresh. Sue me.)
Profile Image for Paul.
2,306 reviews20 followers
January 26, 2018
I waited sixteen-and-a-half years to read this and I just about managed to get through it without bawling my eyes out. Douglas Adams was the first author to make me laugh uproariously, back when I was a wee nipper. Sure, Roald Dahl had given me a few chuckles, but it wasn't until I read Hitchhikers for the first time that I realised a book could make me laugh so much I nearly wet myself.

As such, this was a bittersweet experience. Reading Adams' unpublished work, including several chapters of a new but never to be finished Dirk Gently novel, gave a new definition to laughing through one's tears. I'm glad I read it but it's going to take a while to recover. It's a good job I had my towel...
Profile Image for Trish.
1,875 reviews3,382 followers
March 26, 2017
This technically is the 3rd book in the Dirk Gently series. Sadly, it's not really a Dirk Gently book. You see, before Douglas Adams could write/finish this third book, he died of a sudden heart attack in a gym in Santa Barbara in 2001.

But he left behind fragments of chapters or chapters and their rewritings and a lot of other notes on his various computers. His wife, daughter, agent, editor, assistant and other people then pieced together what is now The Salmon of Doubt which would have been the title of the third book.

This book is divided into three parts:
1) Life
2) The Universe
3) And Everything
which is a tribute to his Hitchhiker book(s).

There is much more in this book than simply another story (or the beginning of one). The first two parts are filled with snippets, random thoughts DA wrote down about tea and cookies and computers and other stuff, interviews for various magazines and newspapers he did, as well as speeches he gave for all sorts of occasions.
For example, did you know how much Douglas Adams got involved with environmentalism? Yes, this giant (literally) of a man did not just love all things Apple, but thanks to a trip done with biologist Mark Carwardine, he also became a staunch defender of bio-diversity. Most notably, he loved and tried to protect rhinos. He even climbed the Kilimandscharo in a rhino costume in order to raise money for "Save the Rhino" (a wildlife conservation organisation). Here he is:

Naturally, it was much more of an ordeal than he had originally thought, which he explains in his very unique hilarious way (seriously, I almost suffocated when reading his account of that trip).

My favourite story though is of the cookies. Here it is:

This actually did happen to a real person, and the real person is me. I had gone to catch a train. This was April 1976, in Cambridge, U.K. I was a bit early for the train. I’d gotten the time of the train wrong. I went to get myself a newspaper to do the crossword, and a cup of coffee and a packet of cookies. I went and sat at a table. I want you to picture the scene. It’s very important that you get this very clear in your mind. Here’s the table, newspaper, cup of coffee, packet of cookies. There’s a guy sitting opposite me, perfectly ordinary-looking guy wearing a business suit, carrying a briefcase. It didn’t look like he was going to do anything weird. What he did was this: he suddenly leaned across, picked up the packet of cookies, tore it open, took one out, and ate it.

Now this, I have to say, is the sort of thing the British are very bad at dealing with. There’s nothing in our background, upbringing, or education that teaches you how to deal with someone who in broad daylight has just stolen your cookies. You know what would happen if this had been South Central Los Angeles. There would have very quickly been gunfire, helicopters coming in, CNN, you know… But in the end, I did what any red-blooded Englishman would do: I ignored it. And I stared at the newspaper, took a sip of coffee, tried to do a clue in the newspaper, couldn’t do anything, and thought, "What am I going to do?"

In the end I thought "Nothing for it, I’ll just have to go for it.", and I tried very hard not to notice the fact that the packet was already mysteriously opened. I took out a cookie for myself. I thought, "That settled him." But it hadn’t because a moment or two later he did it again. He took another cookie. Having not mentioned it the first time, it was somehow even harder to raise the subject the second time around. “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but notice…” I mean, it doesn’t really work.

We went through the whole packet like this. When I say the whole packet, I mean there were only about eight cookies, but it felt like a lifetime. He took one, I took one, he took one, I took one. Finally, when we got to the end, he stood up and walked away. Well, we exchanged meaningful looks, then he walked away, and I breathed a sigh of relief and sat back.

A moment or two later the train was coming in, so I tossed back the rest of my coffee, stood up, picked up the newspaper, and underneath the newspaper were my cookies.

The thing I like particularly about this story is the sensation that somewhere in England there has been wandering around for the last quarter-century a perfectly ordinary guy who’s had the same exact story, only he doesn’t have the punch line.

Typically British. And, strangely, or not so strangely because it's typical DA, a perfect anecdote about life.

This book, therefore, grants a unique insight into the author's mind, his anxiety that sometimes bordered on depression, his early years and struggle, the sudden fame and success, the maddening battle with Hollywood, his private life even.
And it shows how beloved and respected he was by family, friends and colleagues. I mean, Stephen Fry penned the Foreword and Richard Dawkins the Epilogue! Just the list of people he knew and often also how he got to know them is staggering.

Alas, this is the end. So to speak. Fortunately, I can look forward to reading the 4 other Hitchhiker volumes as I haven't read those yet. It's amazing what kind of a legacy this man left behind (not just through his books, but also radio programmes, BBC contributions, movies, TV shows etc).

Trigger Warning:
This book is sometimes difficult to read; at least to those people who mourn the author, or generally feel for people who have to cope with sudden loss. It sure made me cry at certain points.
Profile Image for Johnny.
Author 10 books111 followers
June 28, 2012
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.
Profile Image for Exina.
1,183 reviews374 followers
February 18, 2019
A collection of Adams’ unpublished works, an unfinished Dirk Gently novel, magazine articles, letter, interviews, snippets.

It could be more enjoyable with a much more composed editing and structuring.
Profile Image for Bibliovoracious.
339 reviews27 followers
February 8, 2019
What a delight to revisit the mind of Douglas Adams. I like that this is a collection of emails, speeches, one-liners, and rants. Yes, there's the start of a novel in there, that he may or may not have intended to call the Salmon of Doubt.
The result is so much better than it sounds like it's going to be: Douglas Adams died, but his buddy knew his password and emptied his Mac onto a CD, the various unfinished writings were lightly edited and printed as this.
But gosh, am I ever glad that they did, because there's some exceptional writing in here, hilARious, as he always was, and glitteringly insightful. His projections on the future of technology, from the 90's, are pretty brilliant, and the piece de resistance is the speech to Cambridge on the purpose of God.
Profile Image for Nick Fagerlund.
345 reviews16 followers
August 15, 2008
A kind of poor book which just happens to be filled with awesome.

I'd really like a well-organized and indexed collection of all of Douglas Adams' short writings. Round up all the columns and editorials he wrote, the text he did for his websites, everything, and get it all tied up with a bow and some context. Salmon isn't that collection; the writings are just tossed into poorly-defined buckets with no real TOC to speak of (and let us not speak of indexes), and there's no real way to tell what's missing or what's even important. There's some occasional interesting serendipity to be had, but eh.

On the other hand, it's Douglas Adams, bringer of joy and wry, good-natured English despair, and even inferior collections of his work are crucial.
Profile Image for MJ Nicholls.
2,009 reviews4,005 followers
December 31, 2011
A collection of essays, speeches, ramblings unearthed on his hard drive(s), one short story culled from a BBC annual, and the titular unfinished Dirk Gently novel. The essays are breezy and witty, often lacking focus when discussing science and technology, but comprise (realistically) the most readable of his non-fiction output. There are some readers, yours included, who feel Adams spent himself on the Hitchhiker’s books: although the Dirk Gentlys were absurdist romps sutured with awesome logic, they didn’t hang together as novels. The short excerpt from The Salmon of Doubt, however, might prove me wrong: the usual warmth and humour is present, although in nascent form, (the narration even slips from third into first person, a sign of Adams’s dissatisfaction). But all in all, nobody who loves Adams could resist reading this book, despite snoozing through the travel/nature pieces to get to the stuff they want. It’s a pleasing gallimaufry. Savour it, because there is no more.
Profile Image for Barry Cunningham.
Author 1 book183 followers
July 7, 2020
Well now I'm doubtful of salmon or is it something else, a brilliant book by the master himself. Dirk Gently is a fabulous character construct as is the interconnectedness of all things. A holistically great book - Read it!!
Profile Image for Julian Worker.
Author 37 books340 followers
June 19, 2022
The title comes from the unfinished third book of the Dirk Gently series. As well as 11 chapters of this story, there are essays, interviews, and articles written by Douglas Adams on such subjects as PG Wodehouse, The Beatles, hangover cures, and testing an underwater Sub Bug vehicle on The Great Barrier Reef.
Author 1 book14 followers
July 11, 2007
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.
Profile Image for Robert.
816 reviews44 followers
October 21, 2013
This partially posthumous volume consists of a collection of magazine articles, newspaper columns, interviews and such like, along with one short story (about a young Zaphod)originally published in the Utterly Utterly Merry Comic Relief Christmas Book...a copy of which I own...and the (very) incomplete conflated text of three versions of the third Dirk Gently's novel. This novel was abandoned whilst Adams was still alive, in favour of a 6th Hitchhikers' novel. Adams had decided that the material/theme was better suited to the latter. Personally, I think a 3rd Gently's would have been much more fun than a 6th 'Hikers'. The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul is my favourite Adams novel and The Salmon of Doubt looked to be very much in a similar vein, structurally and stylistically. It's a great shame that we will never see an end to this fragment.


See the complete review here:

Profile Image for Lena.
Author 2 books336 followers
January 20, 2008
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.
Profile Image for Len Evans Jr.
1,446 reviews200 followers
March 5, 2018
I went into this thinking I was getting a 300 pg Dirk Gently story... guess I should have read some reviews of it first... cuz that is noty what this book was mostly. It was interesting but just not what I was hoping for.
3 reviews2 followers
January 14, 2015
I don’t want to finish this book.

I really don’t.

If I finish this book that means I’ll have finished the last work of Douglas Adams. And since it is technically ‘unfinished’, that means I’ll actually need to acknowledge that he’s gone. Dead. Breathed his last. Snuffed it.

Have you read anything by Douglas Adams? If you were born in the last fifty years and are a fan of British comedy, I’ll assume you’ve come across The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Maybe you’ve even read about his detective Dirk Gently. Or his work of non-fiction, Last Chance to See, where he travelled to see almost extinct animals, like a very rare lemur in Madagascar and the Komodo dragon. If you haven’t, I must insist you do. If you don’t like British comedy? You may want to back away slowly. I’m sure there are many other book reviews you would find more pleasurable and I must insist you find one. Now, back to the book.

Adams’ friend and fan, Stephen Fry, introduces The Salmon of Doubt. It is a posthumous collection of things taken from his Macbook after he died (urgh, that hurts to say). The Salmon of Doubt includes articles from the late eighties and nineties about technology, book introductions, speeches and works that have never been published before. It is packed with Adams’ quirky sense of humour and contains plenty of the self-deprecating jokes common to British comic writers. Classic Adamisms include his section for children, where he explains how to tell the difference between things. Since I can’t actually for you to slowly wander to this section in the book, please continue to read it here!

You will need to know the difference between Friday and a fried egg. It’s quite a simple difference, but an important one. Friday comes at the end of the week, whereas a fried egg comes out of a hen. Like most things, of course, it isn’t quite that simple. The fried egg isn’t properly a fried egg until it’s been put in a frying pan and fried. This is something you wouldn’t do to a Friday, of course, though you might do it on a Friday. You can also fry eggs on a Thursday, if you like, or on a cooker. It’s all rather complicated, but it makes a kind of sense if you think about it for a while.

The second half of the book is the first half (or is it… technically if the first half follows the second half, I must be making a mistake somewhere) of Adams’ uncompleted novel The Salmon of Doubt. Dirk Gently is on the trail of half a cat and a mysteriously easy-to-track actor. It’s probably fantastic. But if I read it – that means I have to acknowledge that it is unfinished. Which means the story of Douglas Adams, the writer, the environmentalist, the radical atheist, and all around brilliant person, is finished. So, I haven’t read it yet. I will, I promise. But first, I must read the rest of the Dirk Gently series. Then I shall read it.

Anyway, you may ask who is this book for? If it’s not even finished, what’s the point? Unquestionably, The Salmon of Doubt is for the fans of Douglas Adams. Since I am undoubtedly that, I recommend this book wholeheartedly to other fans. If you want a few more Adamisms before you have to acknowledge (again!) that the man is gone, you can even divide this book up into each section and chapter. It truly is a delight to read. I found myself laughing in strange places and insisting the stranger sitting next to me or the friend I’m having lunch with read just this one paragraph.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go read another section as I edge slowly towards finishing this book.

But I really don’t want to.

This review was originally posted at Teapots and Typewriters
Profile Image for Alexandra .
850 reviews266 followers
February 27, 2010
Der Inhalt der Festplatten von 4 Computern des verstorbenen Douglas Adams: Textfragmente, Interviews, Aufsätze und ein unvollendeter Roman -hört sich todlangweilig an - ist es aber nicht! Es ist eine sehr gute Einsicht in die Meinungen, Philosophien, Visionen und kleinen Probleme eines der größten Autoren dieser Welt.
Da gibt es: Philosophische Abhandlungen über den richtigen alkoholischen Drink, seine glühende Bejahung des Atheismus, das Problem mit den Adapterdingsbumsen beim Verreisen mit elektronischen Geräten, eine sehr treffende Trendbestimmung bezüglich des Internet und sozialer Netzwerke, die so um das Jahr 2000 wirklich noch sehr visionär war aber heute bereits eingetroffen ist, dann noch sein erstes Werk als Zwölfjäriger...... und zuletzt seinen unvollendeten Roman, einen Nachruf seines Freundes Dawkins und das Line Up seiner Beerdigungsveranstaltung.
Wenn man den Menschen hinter den genialen Romanen kennenlernen möchte oder sich als Fan bezeichnet ist dieses Buch absolut empfehlenswert!

Ich habe mich immer sehr geärgert, da ich im Jahr 2000 eine Veranstaltung mit ihm in Wien, zu der ich mich hineinschwindeln hätte können, verpasst habe, da ich erst im nachhinein darüber informiert wurde. Als er dann kurz darauf zu allem Überfluss auch noch gestorben ist, war ich stinksauer. Dieses Buch hat mich ein bisschen dafür entschädigt dass ich ihm nicht die Hand schütteln und ein paar Worte mit ihm reden konnte.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,875 reviews3,382 followers
March 27, 2017
So far I've only read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy but I do intend to read the other four books of the trilogy. Then, when I was scanning through articles and stories by and about DNA (= Douglas Noel Adams), I came across this collection of essays, interviews, speeches and the partly written "The Salmon of Doubt". I think it's a great idea that those remaining snippets on DNA's computer have been put together as a sort of memoire.
I have laughed so hard my stomach still hurts and it was a real joy! So get your towels ready ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 - 42! ;-D
Profile Image for Tony.
480 reviews37 followers
May 21, 2022
Just finished listening to the audio version (read initially immediately after the ink was dry). Two things come to mind:
1. This is not Dirk #3, and
2. I miss DNA.
3. I was wrong to originally only award this a 4
42: I may have mentioned #2 before

(Numbering system courtesy of DNA)
Profile Image for Andy.
1,130 reviews71 followers
July 1, 2022
Kipp die Schublade eines Schriftstellers aus, leere seinen Papierkorb, krame in seinen Hosentaschen und mische alles mit den Post-its von seinem Kühlschrank und voila, du hast etwas wie "Lachs im Zweifel".
Auf diese Mischung aus Schwanengesang und Leichenfledderei war ich nicht gefasst und sie gefiel mir auch nicht.
Wie kann ein Verleger annehmen, 30 Seiten "Dirk Gently" rechtfertigen einen kompletten neuen Band. Indem er das lediglich impliziert? Mich hat dieses Buch doch recht frustriert. Ich kann mir nicht vorstellen, dass Douglas Adams diesem Schnipselwerk zugestimmt hätte (siehe seine Anmerkungen zwecks Regie).
Profile Image for Margaret.
1,028 reviews330 followers
January 5, 2010
I resisted reading this for a long time because I was under the misapprehension that it was merely a presentation of the sections of the Dirk Gently novel Adams was working on until his untimely death in 2001. Having seen multiple references to it in Neil Gaiman's excellent Hitchhiker's companion, Don't Panic, I finally broke down and got it from the library, and I was glad that I did.

The last third of the book does indeed contain the unfinished Salmon of Doubt, but that was to my mind the least interesting part of the book and could (and perhaps should) have been left out. Adams didn't yet know where he was going with it, and in fact, he was apparently thinking of changing it from a Dirk Gently novel to one set in the Hitchhiker's universe. The first two-thirds of the book comprise many different writings by Adams on topics ranging from computers (his beloved Macintoshes) to how to make tea to his atheism, as well as speeches, letters, and interviews with Adams. It's really an eye-opening look at the wide-ranging intellect and knowledge that underlies the seeming frivolity and true hilarity of his books.
Profile Image for Sarah u.
226 reviews34 followers
July 28, 2015
"Where do you get the ideas for your books?
- I tell myself I cannot have another cup of coffee till I've thought of an idea."

This book is such a beautiful tribute to the late Douglas Adams. The pieces in it are laugh out loud funny, deeply meaningful, and often poignant. Surely I am not the only person that cried reading "Sunset at Blandings"; the feelings that Douglas felt at losing one of his favourite authors are so reminiscent of what his fans must feel.

This book is absolutely wonderful. Douglas Adams really brings meaning to Life, The Universe and Everything.
Profile Image for Kristina.
44 reviews
July 23, 2017
Very very fascinating but also very very sad. I think some of Adams' best writing is found within this work. Sadly, the publication of this book meant that there would be no more new Douglas Adams books.
Profile Image for Vasko Genev.
304 reviews63 followers
February 4, 2019
Трудно, дори невъзможно е да се оценяват сборници. Давам пет звезди за прекрасните есета в началото, както и за всички останали необработени и нешлайфани парчета текст дошли от Дъглас Адамс.

Настоящият сборник е представен от кратки разкази, есета, интервюта и части от проекта за 3-та книга от серията с детектив Дърк Джентли „Сьомгата на съмнението“.

Тази посмъртна компилация е събрана от харда на неговия компютър. Дискът с произведенията на Дъглас съдържаха 2579 файла — от огромни, съдържащи пълните текстове на книгите му до писма в полза на „Спасете носорозите“, неговият любим благотворителен фонд. Имаше и невероятни идеи за книги, филми и телевизионни програми, някои от по едно-две изречения, други по пет или шест страници. Освен това имаше чернови на речи, материали писани от Дъглас за неговия уебсайт, предговори към множество книги и събития, както и размисли относно близки до сърцето на Дъглас теми: музиката, технологиите, науката, застрашените от изчезване видове, пътешествията и малцовото уиски (изброявам само някои от тях). Накрая открих дузина варианти на романа, с който Дъглас се сражаваше през по-голямата част от последното десетилетие. Сортирането и подборът за това незавършено произведение, което ще намерите в третата част на тази книга, се превърнаха в най-голямото предизвикателство, въпреки че като го казвам по този начин, звучи много трудно. Не беше. Въпросите раждаха отговори още в момента на възникването си.

Сьомгата на съмнението.

В самото начало, подходът на Дъглас Адамс, основата на който е атеистичният му и фантастичен хумор на човек вярващ в "изкуствения Бог" - Затова твърдя, че макар да няма истински Бог, има изкуствен Бог, и че не е лошо да го имаме предвид. Това е моята теза в спора, а вие сте свободни да ме замеряте със столове! - ми напомни за "Пътуване със сьомга" на Умберто Еко. Става дума най-вече за първата част (на този сборник). Общото критично и хумористично отношение към живота, вселената и всичко останало има изключително сходство между "Сьомгата" на Дъглас Адамс и тази на Умб��рто Еко.

Тази първа част е озаглавена "Животът". Спомени, случки и ситуации от живота на автора, оформени в есета и написани така, че няма как да ви разкажа за тях. Прочетете ги, прекрасни са и определено ще се посмеете.

МАГИ И ТРУДИ. Страхотно :)

Пристрастието и любовта на DNA (Douglas Noel Adams) към науката и техническите постижения се вижда (освен в абревиатурата на името му) във всяка буквичка, която е написал. Определено е било мания и със сигурност от там идва нюансът на специфичния му хумор - (себе)критичен, (себе)ироничен - качества на луд професо�� :)

Последната част представлява 11 глави от недовършената книга "Сьомгата на съмнението". Разбира се, много необработени и недовършени текстове, на етап на натрупване, оформяне, създаване... Почти всяка една глава влиза от отнякъде - от страници, които си пропуснал, защото все още не са били създадени. Бели полета измежду поредната идиотско-гениална история на Дъглас Адамс.



Дайте на хората анкетен лист и те ще започнат да лъжат. Един мой приятел веднъж беше провел някакво допитване в Мрежата. Каза, че информацията, която получил, за състоянието на този свят, била покъртителна. Знаете ли например, че 90 процента от хората са президенти на собствени компании и печелят повече от милион долара на година?


През този век (а и през предишния) моделът на комуникациите едно към едно беше телефонът, който предполагам, че всички познаваме. Комуникацията един на много също не липсваше — радио и телевизия, книгоиздаване, журналистика и какво ли още не. Информацията ни залива отвсякъде и в мишените й няма грам дискриминация. Любопитно е, но не се налага да се връщаме много назад в миналото, за да открием, че цялата информация, която е стигала до нас е имала връзка с нас, и затова всичко, което се е случвало, всяка новина, без значение дали се е случила с нас, в съседната къща, в съседното село, в границата на държавата или в границата на нашия хоризонт, се е случвала в нашия свят и ние сме реагирали, и светът е реагирал в отговор. Всичко ни е засягало по някакъв начин, като например ужасна катастрофа, при която е можело да се притечем на помощ. В наши дни поради плетеницата от комуникации един на много, ако в Индия катастрофира самолет, ние може силно да се разтревожим, но от нашата тревога няма никакъв ефект. Вече не сме способни да различаваме онова, което се е случило на другия край на света от другото, което се е случило на нашата улица. В съзнанието ни разликата между тях е толкова размита, че сме в състояние да се разтревожим много повече от съдбата на героинята от сапунена опера забъркана в Холивуд, отколкото от съдбата на собствената си сестра. Връзките помежду ни са изкривени и разкъсани, и не е никак изненадващо, че се чувстваме стресирани и отчуждени в света, защото светът ни влияе, но ние на него не. Комуникацията много на един я има, но не е кой знае какво, нито кой знае колко. По същността си нашите демократични системи са модели на тази комуникация и макара да не са съвършени, вървят към драстично подобрение.
Четвъртата комуникация обаче — много на много — се роди едва с появата на Интернет, която разбира се тече по фиброоптични кабели. Този тип комуникация формира четвъртата епоха на пясъка.


Най-опасни от всички бяха три еднакви личности — точно те бяха затворени в този контейнер и заедно с кораба трябваше да изчезнат от лицето на тази вселена. Не че бяха зли, напротив, бяха доста простодушни и очарователни. Но са най-опасните същества във вселената, защото никога няма да се откажат да сторят нещо, което е разрешено и никога няма да сторят нещо забранено…


Сиамските котки гледат хората по един особено презрителен начин. Чувството е познато на всеки, който се е натъквал на кралицата, докато е чоплила зъбите си.
Не можеш да се взираш в морето. Е, можеш, но то е покрито с пластмасови бутилки и употребявани презервативи и само ще седиш и ще се ядосваш. Единственото, което ни остана за взиране е белият шум. Онова, което понякога наричаме информация, но което иначе е само мехурчета във въздуха.
Една кола, син кабриолет, елегантна и желана, излезе от западната част на Бевърли хилс и пое по, както аз го разбирам, грациозните извивки на Сънсет булевард. Всеки, който видеше тази кола щеше да я пожелае. Очевидно. Дизайнът й беше такъв, че да я пожелаеш. Ако се окажеше, че хората не я желаха твърде много, конструкторите й щяха да я проектират наново и наново, докато всички я пожелаеха. Светът е пълен с подобни неща, която именно е причината всички да са в непрекъснато състояние на желаене.
Затова ще кажа само, че дрехите й бяха точно такива, че да предизвикат луд възторг в някой който разбира от дрехи и освен това бяха сини.
Светът ѝ изведнъж се беше преобърнал с главата надолу и сега тя изведнъж съвсем неочаквано се беш�� превърнала в най-безпомощното човешко същество в Лос Анджелис — в пешеходец.
— Хората си мислят, че писателите си стоят в някаква стая, гледат умислено и записват велики мисли. Само че те през повечето време гледат панкьосано и се надяват, че още не са пратили съдия-изпълнител.
3 reviews
March 28, 2022
Certainly a gem for all Douglas Adams fans, containing a collection of articles, speeches and short stories with a broad topic ranging from such as hiking up Kilimanjaro in a rhino-suit to how computers' keybords will look in the future. If you're familiar with Douglas's writing style, you'll recognise that he uses similar techniques when writing both long novels and short chronicles. The book is an opportunity to not only enjoy the writers ideas one last time, but also to get to know the person behind those ideas better.

The beggining of what was supposed to become a new Dirk-Gently book doesn't dissapoint, and it lures you in to a world of hollistic complexity, only in the way that Douglas Adams can.
My personal opinion is that the book is a casual read. Because it consists of unrelated material, it's easy to get into any page at any time and there's no need to rush the read.

Another sidenote is that the book can be enjoyed by readers who are not familiar with Douglas Adams or his work. It can be a good way of getting to know the author and his writing style, but, of course, the book is most appealing to Douglas Adams fans who appreciate his character and know a thing or two about the guy.
Profile Image for ringoallavaniglia.
233 reviews20 followers
December 29, 2013
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!
Profile Image for Zoe's Human.
1,342 reviews67 followers
February 9, 2021
This posthumous collection gathers interviews, articles, essays, short stories, and the incomplete beginnings of what was to be the third Dirk Gently Novel. All of that along with an introduction, prologue, epilogue, and the order of his funeral services makes for a wonderful tribute to a beloved author which serves to give a sense of closure to fans.
Profile Image for Jeannette.
972 reviews48 followers
October 11, 2021
A collection of Adams writings, both fiction and nonfiction. It was interesting reading these at the same time as Green's essay collection, in that I found some similar flaws (I wonder if they are flaws in essay in general). Overall, I enjoyed some of them, especially the tragically unfinished Dirk Gently book. Others interested me less or disappointed me. Mostly glad I read it though.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sean Goldfeder.
15 reviews3 followers
March 29, 2018
While reading this, I've had one thought running in my head the whole way through: I wish I could've met Douglas Adams.
Whether he's telling about the time he walked around Africa in a rhino suit for charity, teaching Americans how to make a proper cup of tea or giving a speech about the possibility of an artificial God, Adams was able to make almost anything a pleasure to read. A wonderful insight into the mind of a man I'll never get to meet.
I'm only taking off points here because the unfinished version of the third Dirk Gently novel given here didn't quite work, but then again Adams knew that too. Shame we never got to see how this project would have ended up.
So long Douglas Adams, and thanks for all the fish.
Profile Image for Nancy Mills.
387 reviews26 followers
October 28, 2020
So sad that this unique writer is lost of us. Douglas Adams was the author of the hilarious Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe series, are there is no one like him. Include interviews and essays, very rich. Listened to the audiobook. It's purely a pleasure.
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