The Salmon of Doubt

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The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time is a posthumous collection of previously unpublished material by Douglas Adams. It consists largely of essays about technology and life experiences, but its major selling point is the inclusion of the incomplete novel on which Adams was working at the time of his death, The Salmon of Doubt (from which the collection gets its title, a reference to the Celtic myth of the Salmon of Wisdom). English editions of the book were published in the USA and UK in May 2002, exactly one year after the author's death.

Contents

Original intention

The original intention of The Salmon of Doubt was a Dirk Gently novel. The plot, set a few weeks after the events in The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, involves Dirk Gently refusing to help find the missing half of a cat, receiving large amounts of money from an unknown client, and then flying to the United States. Dirk pays a visit to Kate Schechter (who had first appeared in The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul) and tells her that prior to the potential client, he had been so bored that he had started a habit of dialling his own phone number and discovered he'd answered his own calls. A faxed summary reprinted before the text mentions travelling "through the nasal membranes of a rhinoceros, to a distant future dominated by estate agents and heavily armed kangaroos."

The version in the published book is the strongest content from several unfinished drafts that were written.[1]

Later intention

Adams admitted that while he originally planned on writing a third Dirk Gently book, the ideas he was having for it would have fit better into another Hitchhiker's book: "A lot of the stuff which was originally in The Salmon of Doubt really wasn't working", and he planned on "salvaging some of the ideas that I couldn't make work in a Dirk Gently framework and putting them in a Hitchhiker framework... and for old time's sake I may call it The Salmon of Doubt." [2][3] He had expressed dissatisfaction with the fifth Hitchhiker book, Mostly Harmless, saying "People have said, quite rightly, that Mostly Harmless is a very bleak book. And it was a bleak book. I would love to finish Hitchhiker on a slightly more upbeat note, so five seems to be a wrong kind of number; six is a better kind of number."[4][5]

Versions

There are slight differences in varying editions of the book. The UK edition includes a foreword by Stephen Fry, and the US edition, instead, has an introduction by Christopher Cerf. The audiobook edition consists of 7 CDs, mostly read by Simon Jones, but also includes both of the introductions, read by their respective authors, as well as the tributes written and read by Richard Dawkins. US paperback editions have yet another introduction, written by Terry Jones, and omit some material due to issues with copyright.

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