By: Jenny Gardner
Douglas Adams is a name synonymous with science fiction. The worlds of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy combined with Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency encompass a vast universe of wondrous adventures. Douglas’s early passing left a lot of questions unanswered and stories untold. The Salmon of Doubt explores those tales. Editorial Companion, Peter Guzzardi, explored the snippets of writing Douglas left behind, in order to compile the three sections of this novel: beginning with “Life,” then “The Universe,” and finally, “And Everything.”
Before the tale begins, a foreword composed by Stephen Fry is included. If you are one to never read a foreword or preface, this is one you do NOT want to miss! Stephen Fry is a huge name in British entertainment, but many do not know that he was a companion of Douglas Adams. His preface is a tribute to the writer, as well as a brief glance into the man himself. The foreword smoothly introduces the eccentricities of Douglas Adams’s mind, including his love of technology and the future, before transitioning into a beautiful introduction to The Salmon of Doubt, a continued journey into “the wise, provoking, benevolent, hilarious, and addictive world of Douglas Adams.”
In sections “Life” and “The Universe,” readers are treated to the musings and snippets of the author’s mind. Stories of every day interactions, as well as short creative stories are included. In the Editor’s note, a worry about keeping true to Adams’ voice is mentioned. It is wholly unfounded. Every tale is written in a true “Adams” tone. Each transition, from story to story, is in tune with the ‘jumps’ present in other compilations, published while the author was alive. The first two sections of The Salmon of Doubt give readers a chance to have one last look into the genius behind the author, including short tales which amuse and delight along the way.
Finally, “And Everything” introduces interviews conducted with Douglas, before concluding with the long-awaited eleven chapters of Adams’ last novel-in-progress: The Salmon of Doubt. The tale is amazing, combining the style of hitchhikers, with suspense characteristic of Dirk Gently. The novel ends on a delightfully vague, confusing scene about a replacement rhinoceros. The charming perplexity is in line with Dirk Gently as a whole. The detective often encounters the most intriguing cases in the universe. However, most of the Dirk Gently adventures have a perfect wrap up, in which every question is answered. In The Salmon of Doubt, that is not the case. We may never truly know the “conclusion” of this particular adventure, but readers are left with many possibilities to ponder.
The loss of Douglas Adams’s creative genius is profound. For his family and friends, even more-so. This novel is a wonderful last foray into that mind. I wholeheartedly recommend this novel. There were moments of laughter, and periods of grief throughout, particularly in the Prologue and Epilogue. Knowing these wonderful pieces were the last to be read created profound sorrow, but having the opportunity to do so is incredibly special as well. The chapters of The Salmon of Doubt in “And Universe” created great anticipation for what would happen next. What case would Dirk accept? Why was the rhino at a party? Where is the back half of the cat? If you have not had an opportunity to dive into this tale, find time to do so. It was a wonderful read. Be prepared for laughter, tears, and dismay along the way!