The Salmon Of Doubt is the title of a posthumous collection of works by and about Douglas Adams.

The book is a bit of a hodge-podge. While credited solely to Adams, it also features an introduction by Stephen Fry, an editor's note, and various interviews and obituaries (including one by Adams' good friend Richard Dawkins).

The bulk of the book is taken up with previously-published work by Adams, mostly essays, articles and short stories, close in feel to Stephen Fry's Paperweight. As the book has, unforgivably, no contents list (presumably so that people don't notice that the unpublished stuff is only a small part) I shall only deal with the highlights. Before buying the book though, it's worth noting that despite the hype about 'retrieving work from Adams' computer' much of this stuff may well already be on your computer - everything he did for h2g2 or is here as is his interview with The Onion, along with various publicity interviews, reviews of Paul McCartney concerts etc. Not that this stuff isn't readable - it's very readable in fact - but it's hardly major work.

One thing that is notable though is Adams' introduction to P.G. Wodehouse's posthumous, uncompleted Sunset At Blandings, wich makes it quite clear that Adams did approve of posthumously publishing the unfinished work of authors.

One of the most interesting of the interviews that pad this book out is one he did with American Atheists. The levels of mutual incomprehension due to different social attitudes in different countries are hilarious: (edited fragments of one part of the interview follow)

AA You allude to your Atheism in your speech to your fans ... Is your Atheism common knowledge among your fans, friends and coworkers? Are many people in your circle of friends and co-workers Atheists as well?

DNA This is a slightly puzzling question to me and I think there is a cultural difference involved. In England there is no big deal about being an Atheist...

AA How often have fans, friends or co-workers tried to "save" you from Atheism?

DNA Absolutely never...

AA Have you faced any obstacles in your professional life because of your Atheism (bigotry against Atheists)...?

DNA Not even remotely. It's an inconceivable concept.

What most Adams fans will be interested in though will be the fiction. There are three main fictional pieces in this book.

The first two, Young Zaphod Plays It Safe and The Private Life Of Genghis Khan were originally published in a compilation Adams co-edited for Comic Relief - The Utterly, Utterly Merry Comic Relief Christmas Book

Young Zaphod Plays It Safe is a Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy story, and as such obviously contradicts all that happened before or since in the HHGG universe, providing an alternative explanation for Earth's destruction

The Private Life Of Genghis Khan has a rather dull twist at the end that places it also in the HHGG universe, but is basically a rewrite of a sketch Adams wrote with Graham Chapman, in which Khan is too busy to conquer the world as he has too many meetings scheduled. Neither of these stories are Adams at his best.

And the book more or less finishes with ten chapters of Adams' work in progress The Salmon Of Doubt. This is the beginning of a Dirk Gently novel, but there's an interview in the book where Adams states that he was planning on rewriting it as a Hitchhiker book,which possibly explains the confusion noted above. The ten extant chapters though show that it was perfectly suited to Gently. SPOILER ALERT here - there is very little plot, but the next paragraph describes the little there is.

The plot, such as it is, is that Gently is approached by a mysterious beautiful woman to find the missing half of her cat, but the woman leaves no contact info. He then discovers that someone has been depositing large sums of money in his account for no reason he can see. In order to justify this 'fee', he starts following an out of work actor, discovers the solution to a problem that has been puzzling him, and ends up in Alberquerque, where a rhino recently died.

The book is definitely of interest for Adams fans, but the actual unpublished material makes up very little of the total text. If you're in doubt about buying it, wait until the paperback comes out. This is far from essential reading unless you're an Adams obsessive, but if you are there are some wonderful little turns of phrase that remind you just how much he'll be missed.

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