Thursday, October 08, 2009

'The Salmon of Doubt' by Douglas Adams

8 October 2009

This seems the right time to be returning to Douglas Adams: Stephen Fry and Mark Cawardine are currently retracing the steps Douglas and Mark took 20 years ago in 'Last Chance to See' (Sundays on BBC1), a third 'Dirk Gently' radio series is in production (following the wonderful radio versions of 'Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency', reviewed here in October 2007, and 'The Long, Dark, Tea Time of the Soul', reviewed here in October 2008) and we are approaching celebrations of the 30th anniversary of the original radio broadcast of 'The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy' (which is to be marked by the publication of an authorised Hitch Hiker sequel by Eoin Colfer). I've been reading 'The Salmon of Doubt', a collection of unpublished writings, short stories, newspaper columns and speeches rescued from the hard drive of Douglas Adams' Mac after his untimely death in 2001. It's been wonderful to 'hear his voice' again – like rediscovering a long lost friend. This odd collection of pieces acts as an extremely entertaining, randomly constructed autobiography, demonstrating Adams' growing fascination with computers, evolution, conservation etc. and how his fiction gradually incorporated each of these themes. The real gem here is eleven chapters of his final, unfinished, Dirk Gently novel which are great. Somehow the fact that the convoluted plot and mysterious happenings they introduce may never be resolved doesn’t seem to matter – wonderful stuff. And there’s also a very funny story about a packet of biscuits that will be familiar to anyone who was at the opening of the NALGAO conference in Swindon yesterday …



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