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February 21, 2003

The Salmon Of Doubt - Douglas Adams

Brilliant postscript to the life of a genuis

When Douglas Adams died suddenly, he left behind on his Apple Mac some chapters of an unfinished novel. There wasn't really enough to publish, but the work really needed to be seen by his fans. So various other pieces of writing, including essays on science, letters to film producers, columns from newspapers and magazines and other assorted extracts from his hard drive were collected into this volume.

Loosly sorted into sections called life, the universe and everything are repectively general articles, pieces about science, and the unfinished novel. Starting at the end, the unfinished novel is another Dirk Gently outing, and is amusing and intriguing, and finishes just as it's getting really interesting. The Universe contains pieces written by Adams mostly about computers, but also about religion. He claimed to be a technophobe, and wanted his devices to 'just work', but no one scared of technology would have subjected themselves to the computer nightmares chronicled here. A true atheist, he makes his case here forcefully, and you'll want to read Richard Dawkins "The Selfish Gene" to get more background on why evolution is undeniably the only inevitable answer to that great question of why we're here. The first section is hard to encapsulate, as it's so varied. Short and long pieces take in dogs as mistresses, musings on the hitch-hiker film, and trips to Australia to ride on, or rather not ride on, manta rays. It's a mixed bag, and can be dipped into at random where you can't fail to find something good to make you smile and think at the same time.

Adams was a very gifted communicator, and had a knack of putting the words in his sentences in just the right order. This doesn't sound too difficult, but anyone who has ever tried to write will know just how hard it is. His writing is filled with humour, another difficult thing to do well. This whole book is filled with his presence, and the words written by his friends and colleagues are heartfelt and sincere, and all tell a similar story; like the rest of us, they are angry that Douglas Adams has been taken away so soon, and even two years later, the space he left behind is still very empty.

Posted by se71 at 04:14 PM | Comments (0)