440 words on Books
I just finished reading The Salmon of Doubt, a book full of writing by Douglas Adams, that was published after his death, which Dan gave me for christmas because he figured I might like it. The book contains some unfinished chapters of another Dirk Gently novel and a whole bunch of articles that Douglas wrote in his last decade or so, many of which are not related to his books.
Because of the Hitchhiker’s Guide, his works are often labelled as science fiction, which personally I don’t like too much as most of the science fiction stuff I’ve seen was just crap and horrendously badly written. So I’d rather not read that stuff. Yet, I quite enjoyed the Hitchhiker’s Guide, so – and there comes my little theory – it can’t be proper science fiction. And in a way it isn’t. It seemed more like a funny story that just happens to be set up in a science fiction-esque context because it’s easier to have absurd situations there. In total I found the books to be a very funny and light read – yet with great bits of subtlety creeping up every now and again.
[Just to stress my anti science fiction point, let me mention Stanisław Lem, the other writer I like despite him being widely considered a part ‘science fiction’. He’s not as funny as Douglas Adams, but a much better writer. So perhaps I should say that Lem isn’t a science fiction writer because he’s actually a good writer and Adams isn’t a science fiction writer because he’s actually funny, and lightly so.]
To be honest I don’t think the novel in the book is all that great. But it’s also unfinished so it’d be a bit hard to deduce anything from that. However, that’s more than made up by all the articles that are collected in the book. While you may have run across one or two of those before, it’s nice to have a whole bunch of them collected in one place. They show that Adams was interested in many more things than Hitchhikers and trying to promote them. Most notable here are the environment and the fact that he seems to have been quite Mac geek, even more than the usual
top ten per cent of the market quote may suggest.
Recommended Reading: Frank the Vandal (p. 85) for the Mac lovers who get that fuzzy feeling when people wax lyrical about HyperCard and ask for wireless networking… in 1989. If you’re in for humour, read Cookies (p. 150) which left me with a somewhat Roald Dahl-ish feel.
Douglas Adams is a brilliant writer in any genre. He wrote a wonderful book about his travels to find animals on the verge of extinction called “Last Chance to See” which I loved. He somehow took a heartbreaking subject and added a humorous twist to it, so that anybody could relate to the subject.
Received data seems to be invalid. The wanted file does probably not exist or the guys at last.fm changed something.