The Salmon of Doubt

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by."

-- Douglas Adams

A Brief Introduction to The Introduction to The Introduction to the New Edition

The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time begins with one of the funniest pieces of writing I have ever come across. Preceding The Introduction to the New Edition, The Introduction to the Introduction to the New Edition (I2I2NE), written by comedian, actor, author, Monty Python troupe member and long time Adams friend and collaborator Terry Jones, sets the tone for what is to follow: comedy at its best; pages filled with that quintessential Monty Python-esque British wit that so characterizes the writing of Douglas Adams who, afterall, has been referred to as The Monty Python of Science Fiction. And so without further ado, I would like to begin this review with the aforementionedly preceding and said I2I2NE that was previously referred to in the above reference wherin I mentioned it:

“This Introduction to the Introduction to the New Edition is a highly significant one in the history of Introductions. Its presence on these pages means that this book has achieved the World Record for the Number of Introductions in a Book of This Nature. With the addition of this Introduction to the Introduction to the New Edition, The Salmon of Doubt can claim to have no less than three Introductions, one Prologue, and one Editor’s Note. That is two Introductions more than Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and one Introduction, One Prologue, and one Editor’s Note more than The Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature. Even the Oxford English Dictionary can only boast one Preface, one Historical Introduction, one General Explanations, and a List of Abbreviations – that’s two Introductions short of The Salmon of Doubt.

You are, without a doubt, holding in your hands one of the best-introduced books in the English language. We hope you enjoy the Introduction to the New Edition that follows this introduction to it and continue to read on even into the book itself.”

-- Terry Jones, February 2, 2003

Following the world record number of introductions, the book is divided into three parts – Life, The Universe, And Everything, borrowed from the structure of, the site that Adams helped to create in 1999 (whose name was based on the third book in the Hitchhiker series, entitled, curiously enough: Life, the Universe and Everything).

The first two sections are a compilation of Adams interviews, articles, and essays, with the first section (“Life”) focusing on his life: his personal obsessions (Procol Harum, The Beatles, and rhinoceri, to name a few), hangover cures, his favorite author (P.G.Wodehouse), and his nose. The second section (“The Universe”) focuses on his technological obsessions (the Macintosh computer, the future, time and space travel, and his religious views (from an interview with American Atheist: “What message would you like to send to your atheist fans?” Adams: “Hello! How are you?”).

The third part (“Everything”) contains, among other elements, the first eleven chapters of Adams’ unfinished Dirk Gently novel, The Salmon of Doubt, as recovered in various forms from his four computers by his friend Chris Ogle following Adams’ untimely death in 2001 at the age of 49, and compiled and edited with the help of Peter Guzzardi. The chapters create the great beginnings of a story, brimming with Adams’ unique observational wit (“Follow that cab!” exclaimed Dirk, climbing into the back. “I been a cabbie over twenty years now,” said the cabbie as he slid back into traffic. “Never had anybody actually say that to me.”) We can only imagine where the story would have wound up, but we can say for certain that whatever our best imaginings of the rest of the story could be, they would surely fall short of the ride that Adams’ vibrant imagination would have taken us on.

So go forth then at once, my most esteemed and admirable young travelers, and read this tome hurriedly, while making haste about it, lest the tarpon will be certain.


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