Needless to say, Douglas Adams was not your average fellow. Towering over the majority of us, not only in stature, but in terms of intellect, wit and all-round likeability, he was rudely snatched away at the age of 49. Adams’ humour was one of a kind: Eoin Colfer did a decent enough job of writing the last installment for The Hitch Hiker’s Guide (see review February 12, 2012), but it just wasn’t really the same.
Given the quirky, off-the-wall content of Adams’ musings, we could never expect to see anything remotely close to him again. Who else could have given us The Meaning of Liff, for example, a dictionary for words that should have made it into the dictionary but somehow didn’t? As a result, we now have the terms Affcot (n): The sort of fart you hope people will talk about afterwards; and Tulsa (n): A slurp of beer that has accidently gone down your shirt collar. Thank you, Mr Adams.
The Salmon of Doubt is a collection of various jottings, speeches, interviews, anecdotes and short stories salvaged from the multitude of computers Adams worked on. The last, chunkier section is the beginning of what would have been the next Dirk Gently novel. It’s a real treat, but an absolute tease as it’s obviously a work in progress. Reading it only made me weep.
From an early age, Adams was already showing signs of the writer he would become. At 12, he’d already had published a funny letter to the editor of The Eagle, a science fiction magazine in the sixties. The Salmon of Doubt, however, is probably the last publication that will have his name on it as author. Some sections are a little dry, but there are also some complete gems, including The Private Life of Genghis Khan and another entitled Cookies. The first teeters on the boundary of complete silliness and portrays Khan as just a regular guy with a regular job who, at the end of the day, really just wants someone to ask him how his day went. Towards the end of the story, Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged, a character from The Hitchhiker’s Guide, appears randomly out of nowhere and pays Khan a pretty cutting insult. It’s predictably unexpected.
Cookies you’ll just have to read for yourself. Telling it would only spoil it.
Douglas Adams was so entertaining that you couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.