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The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time [Format Kindle]

Douglas Adams , Stephen Fry
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Descriptions du produit


Young Zaphod Plays It Safe

A large flying craft moved swiftly across the surface of an astoundingly beautiful sea. From midmorning onward it plied back and forth in great, widening arcs, and at last attracted the attention of the local islanders, a peaceful, seafood-loving people who gathered on the beach and squinted up into the blinding sun, trying to see what was there.

Any sophisticated, knowledgable person who had knocked about, seen a few things, would probably have remarked on how much the craft looked like a filing cabinet–a large and recently burgled filing cabinet lying on its back with its drawers in the air and flying. The islanders, whose experience was of a different kind, were instead struck by how little it looked like a lobster.

They chattered excitedly about its total lack of claws, its stiff, unbendy back, and the fact that it seemed to experience the greatest difficulty staying on the ground. This last feature seemed particularly funny to them. They jumped up and down on the spot a lot to demonstrate to the stupid thing that they themselves found staying on the ground the easiest thing in the world. But soon this entertainment began to pall for them. After all, since it was perfectly clear to them that the thing was not a lobster, and since their world was blessed with an abundance of things that were lobsters (a good half a dozen of which were now marching succulently up the beach towards them), they saw no reason to waste any more time on the thing, but decided instead to adjourn immediately for a late lobster lunch.

At that exact moment the craft stopped suddenly in midair, then upended itself and plunged headlong into the ocean with a great crash of spray that sent the islanders shouting into the trees. When they reemerged, nervously, a few minutes later, all they were able to see was a smoothly scarred circle of water and a few gulping bubbles.
That’s odd, they said to each other between mouthfuls of the best lobster to be had anywhere in the Western Galaxy, that’s the second time that’s happened in a year.

The craft that wasn’t a lobster dived directly to a depth of two hundred feet, and hung there in the heavy blueness, while vast masses of water swayed about it. High above, where the water was magically clear, a brilliant formation of fish flashed away. Below, where the light had difficulty reaching, the colour of the water sank to a dark and savage blue.

Here, at two hundred feet, the sun streamed feebly. A large, silk-skinned sea mammal rolled idly by, inspecting the craft with a kind of half-interest, as if it had half expected to find something of this kind round about here, and then it slid on up and away towards the rippling light.

The craft waited here for a minute or two, taking readings, and then descended another hundred feet. At this depth it was becoming seriously dark. After a moment or two the internal lights of the craft shut down, and in the second or so that passed before the main external beams suddenly stabbed out, the only visible light came from a small, hazily illuminated pink sign that read, the beeblebrox salvage and really wild stuff corporation.

The huge beams switched downwards, catching a vast shoal of silver fish, which swivelled away in silent panic.
In the dim control room that extended in a broad bow from the craft’s blunt prow, four heads were gathered round a computer display that was analysing the very, very faint and intermittent signals that were emanating from deep on the seabed.

“That’s it,” said the owner of one of the heads finally.

“Can we be quite sure?” said the owner of another of the heads.

“One hundred per cent positive,” replied the owner of the first head.

“You’re one hundred per cent positive that the ship which is crashed on the bottom of this ocean is the ship which you said you were one hundred per cent positive could one hundred per cent positively never crash?” said the owner of the two remaining heads. “Hey”–he put up two of his hands–“I’m only asking.”

The two officials from the Safety and Civil Reassurance Administration responded to this with a very cold stare, but the man with the odd, or rather the even number of heads, missed it. He flung himself back on the pilot couch, opened a couple of beers–one for himself and the other also for himself–stuck his feet on the console, and said “Hey, baby,” through the ultra-glass at a passing fish.

“Mr. Beeblebrox . . .” began the shorter and less reassuring of the two officials in a low voice.

“Yup?” said Zaphod, rapping a suddenly empty can down on some of the more sensitive instruments. “You ready to dive? Let’s go.”

“Mr. Beeblebrox, let us make one thing perfectly clear . . .”

“Yeah, let’s,” said Zaphod. “How about this for a start. Why don’t you just tell me what’s really on this ship.”

“We have told you,” said the official. “By-products.”

Zaphod exchanged weary glances with himself.

“By-products,” he said. “By-products of what?”

“Processes,” said the official.

“What processes?”

“Processes that are perfectly safe.”

“Santa Zarquana Voostra!” exclaimed both of Zaphod’s heads in chorus. “So safe that you have to build a zarking fortress ship to take the by-products to the nearest black hole and tip them in! Only it doesn’t get there because the pilot does a detour–is this right?–to pick up some lobster? Okay, so the guy is cool, but . . . I mean own up, this is barking time, this is major lunch, this is stool approaching critical mass, this is . . . this is . . . total vocabulary failure!

“Shut up!” his right head yelled at his left. “We’re flanging!”

He got a good calming grip on the remaining beer can.

“Listen, guys,” he resumed after a moment’s peace and contemplation. The two officials had said nothing. Conversation at this level was not something to which they felt they could aspire. “I just want to know,” insisted Zaphod, “what you’re getting me into here.”

He stabbed a finger at the intermittent readings trickling over the computer screen. They meant nothing to him, but he didn’t like the look of them at all. They were all squiggly, with lots of long numbers and things.

“It’s breaking up, is that it?” he shouted. “It’s got a hold full of epsilonic radiating aorist rods or something that’ll fry this whole space sector for zillions of years back, and it’s breaking up. Is that the story? Is that what we’re going down to find? Am I going to come out of that wreck with even more heads?”

“It cannot possibly be a wreck, Mr. Beeblebrox,” insisted the official. “The ship is guaranteed to be perfectly safe. It cannot possibly break up.”

“Then why are you so keen to go and look at it?”

“We like to look at things that are perfectly safe.”


“Mr. Beeblebrox,” said the official patiently, “may I remind you that you have a job to do?”

“Yeah, well maybe I don’t feel so keen on doing it all of a sudden. What do you think I am, completely without any moral whatsits, what are they called, those moral things?”


“Scruples, thank you, whatsoever? Well?”

The two officials waited calmly. They coughed slightly to help pass the time.
Zaphod sighed a what-is-the-world-coming-to sort of sigh to absolve himself from all blame, and swung himself round in his seat.

“Ship?” he called.

“Yup?” said the ship.

“Do what I do.”

The ship thought about this for a few milliseconds and then, after double-checking all the seals on its heavy-duty bulkheads, it began slowly, inexorably, in the hazy blaze of its lights, to sink to the lowest depths.

Five hundred feet.

A thousand.

Two thousand.

Here, at a pressure of nearly seventy atmospheres, in the chilling depths where no light reaches, nature keeps its most heated imaginings. Two-foot-long nightmares loomed wildly into the bleaching light, yawned, and vanished back into the blackness.

Two and a half thousand feet.

At the dim edges of the ship’s lights, guilty secrets flitted by with their eyes on stalks.

Gradually the topography of the distantly approaching ocean bed resolved with greater and greater clarity on the computer displays until at last a shape could be made out that was separate and distinct from its surroundings. It was like a huge, lopsided, cylindrical fortress that widened sharply halfway along its length to accommodate the heavy ultra-plating with which the crucial storage holds were clad, and which were supposed by its builders to have made this the most secure and impregnable spaceship ever built. Before launch, the material structure of this section had been battered, rammed, blasted, and subjected to every assault its builders knew it could withstand, in order to demonstrate that it could withstand them.

The tense silence in the cockpit tightened perceptibly as it became clear that it was this section that had broken rather neatly in two.

“In fact it’s perfectly safe,” said one of the officials. “It’s built so that even if the ship does break up, the storage holds cannot possibly be breached.”

Three thousand eight hundred twenty-five feet.

Four Hi-Presh-A SmartSuits moved slowly out of the open hatchway of the salvage craft and waded through the barrage of its lights t...

Revue de presse

“Above all, of course, Douglas Adams was a transcendent, multi-faceted, comic genius. What made Douglas’s work unique, I think, were the wildly contradictory attributes he displayed in his writing. He seamlessly blended world-class intelligence—and a daunting knowledge about an impossible variety of subjects (literature, computers, evolution, pop culture, genetics, and music, to name but a few)—with transcendental silliness; technophobia with a lust for, and fascination with, every high-tech toy imaginable; deep cynicism about virtually everything with an effusively joyful spirit; and one of the quickest wits on the planet with a relentless perfectionism in pursuing his craft.” —From the Introduction by Christopher Cerf

“The bottom drawer of recently deceased writers is often best left firmly locked and bolted. In the case of Douglas, I am sure you will agree, the bottom drawer (or in his case, the nested subfolders of his hard drive) has been triumphantly well worth the prising open. There are those who write from time to time and do it well, and then there are Writers. Douglas Adams, and it is pointless to attempt here an explanation or anatomisation, was born, grew up, and remained a Writer to his too-early dying day.
“You are on the verge of entering the wise, provoking, benevolent, hilarious, and addictive world of Douglas Adams. Don’t bolt it all whole—as with Douglas’s beloved Japanese food, what seems light and easy to assimilate is subtler and more nutritious by far than it might at first appear.” —Stephen Fry, author of The Liar and Making History: A Novel

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 649 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 340 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 0330323121
  • Editeur : Pan; Édition : New Edit/Cover (13 décembre 2012)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Word Wise: Non activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°110.880 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 un très bel hommage à acheter d'urgence 2 mai 2002
Par nicolas
Douglas Adams, l'écrivain anglais le plus drôle de sa génération, est mort le 11 mai 2001, à 49 ans, plongeant des centaines de milliers de fans dans le plus profond désarroi.
C'est à 28 ans qu'il a révolutionné la fiction radiophonique avec son "hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy" ("guide galactique"), une perle de parodie SF diffusée sur la BBC à la fin des années 70. Foi d'auditeur, on n'avait jamais entendu une telle débauche d'effets spéciaux et un feuilleton à l'esprit aussi rock.
Mais s'il est devenu mondialement célèbre, c'est grâce à l'adaptation romanesque de sa série radio en une trilogie comprenant pas moins de cinq tomes. Elle s'est vendue à plus de vingt millions d'exemplaires.
Pour autant Douglas Adams n'est pas seulement l'auteur du guide galactique. Et cette anthologie foisonnante réunissant essais, nouvelles et roman inachevé nous permet de (re)découvrir un Douglas Adams moins connu : l'intellectuel athée et passionné par les questions philosophiques et scientifiques , le fan de musique (rappelons qu'il avait trente guitares et a joué sur scène avec Pink Floyd et Procol Harum), l'admirateur de PG Wodehouse (un autre grand esprit britannique), l'homme engagé pour les races animales en voie de disparition (auxquelles il a consacré un excellent livre "last chance to see"),...
Pour autant, s'ils découvriront beaucoup, fans et novices de l'oeuvre de Douglas ne seront pas déconcertés : on reconnait bien dans tous ses textes la patte de Douglas, celle d'un esprit brillant et excessivement drôle.
A noter enfin pour les fans du guide que l'ouvrage comprend "young zaphod play it safe", une nouvelle très rare sur la jeunesse de Zaphod Breeblebrox.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.1 étoiles sur 5  194 commentaires
161 internautes sur 162 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Bittersweet ending to an amazing career 14 février 2003
Par Emerick Rogul - Publié sur
The first two-thirds of "The Salmon of Doubt", as assembled by Douglas Adams' editor, consists of essays, lectures, magazine articles, and other short pieces written by Adams. It is an interesting glimpse into his mind, his work habits, his love of computers and gadgets, and his views on religion, atheism, and evolution. As an added bonus, the last third of the book contains the first eleven chapters of what was meant to be Adams' new Dirk Gently novel (although he tantalizingly hinted in interviews that he might turn it into a sixth "Hitchhiker's" book), also named "The Salmon of Doubt."

The essay/article portion of the book, while interesting, does have an unavoidably hodgepodge feel to it. Most of this material will be familiar to diehard Douglas Adams fans (in fact, much of it has already been printed elsewhere - little here is new material), but it is nice to have it all gathered together in one place. Unfortunately, no index or table of contents is provided, so finding a particular piece is rather challenging.

The portion of the book actually devoted to "The Salmon of Doubt" is very intriguing. As the editor notes, the eleven chapters are stitched together from three separate "versions" of the novel that Adams was working on at the time of his death. As a result, some of the chapter transitions are very choppy (and of course the story sputters out without a proper ending, although this does seem vaguely appropriate for a Dirk Gently novel). However, I found chapters two through seven of the book to be very engaging; a bit rough, certainly, but this was shaping up to be a great Dirk Gently novel. It was with sadness that I reached the end of this story and realized that there would be no ending, and further, no other novels from Douglas Adams.

I don't fault the editor for assembling the story the way he's chosen to, as an amalgam of three different manuscripts - I'm sure this would have been his suggestion even if Adams were still alive. Still, I would love to see a completely "unedited" version of the novel, i.e., one that includes all three working versions; I think that would be fascinating to read. It's certainly a tease to know that certain parts of the different versions were skipped over in assembling this edition.

Having said that, I still do think this book is a must-own if you're a fan of Douglas Adams and his work, due to the inclusion of the unfinished novel. However, when reading "The Salmon of Doubt", you must be prepared to read an unpolished, unfinished story; if you're able to read it in this frame of mind, it's actually very rewarding.
75 internautes sur 80 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Heartbreakingly interrupted. 16 octobre 2002
Par Matthew Weaver - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
He made hitchhiking a universal thing.

Douglas Adams, author of the five books in the vastly popular comic-space saga "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" trilogy (you did indeed read that correctly), plus an assortment of other novels, died in May 2001.
Now comes a posthumous collection of his writings, called "The Salmon of Doubt," which allows his fans one last, gentle look at a revolutionary voice in literature and science-fiction.
"Salmon" is very much a toast to Adams, a eulogy to him.
The assembled writings are fabulous, culled from a massive selection of writings, letters, essays, various introductions and other things from Adams' computer.
The title refers to an included unfinished Dirk Gently book which, had he lived, might have turned into the sixth "Hitchhiker" book.
Other points of interest:
The first published work of twelve-year-old Douglas Adams, a letter to the editor to "The Eagle," a popular boys' magazine.
"Y," in which Adams helpfully points out that the question "Why?" is the only one important enough to have had a letter named after it.
"Riding the Rays," in which Adams gets the idea to compare riding a new technological submarine, the "Sub Bug," to riding manta rays off the coast of Manta Ray Bay near Australia, the rejection of his proposal when it comes to riding the rays and, upon discovering a manta in said bay, his ease with giving up the pursuit of a ride. Quite possibly the best entry in the whole book.
"Is There an Artificial God?" is an interesting speech from Adams on his aetheism, as he breaks downb his non-belief into steps and explores the contrasts between science and religion.
"Cookies," in which Adams finds himself plagued by the most horrid of human entities: The cookie thief. Or does he?
A letter to Disney's unresponsive David Vogel leaving a chart of numbers at which Adams can possibly be reached.
"The Private Life of Genghis Khan": A woman whose village has just been pillaged and burnt to the ground by the Mongol now finds herself right next to him, with one of his warriors forcing her to ask the mighty Khan how his day was...
It is almost spooky how, in a review/essay of P.G. Wodehouse's unfinished novel "Sunset at Blandings," Adams laments the fact that Wodehouse's final work is "unfinished not just in the sense that it suddenly, heartbreakingly for those of us who love this man and his work, stops in midflow, but in the more important sense that the text up to that point is also unfinished."
Heartbreakingly stopped in midflow, unfinished? The same can be said of Adams himself.
24 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Farewell, Douglas 21 décembre 2004
Par Alan Caylow - Publié sur
The world was robbed of one it's greatest and funniest writers on May 11, 2001, when Douglas Adams, author of the hugely popular "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" and "Dirk Gently" books, died from a heart attack at the age of 49. As a writer, Adams was a true original. His style of humor was gloriously funny, and he certainly had a most unique way with words. His final book, the posthumous release "The Salmon Of Doubt," is a collection of assorted writings, including essays, e-mails, interviews, lectures and letters that Adams had given or written over the years, as well as an unfinished third "Dirk Gently" novel that Adams had been sporadically working on for many years. Much of the material was culled from the disk drives of Adams' collection of Macintosh computers, and we, Adams' faithful readers, can certainly be grateful for these golden DNA nuggets. The book contains such gems as Adams discussing his childhood, his nose, his friendship with dogs Maggie and Trudie, his great introduction to Procol Harum (a favorite band of Adams AND myself) just before they take the stage, his advice about how to make a cup of really good tea, his attempts to get "Hitchhiker's" made as a feature film (which *finally* happened in 2005), and his lecture about the existence of an artificial God. There's also a hilarious sketch about Genghis Khan, a short "Hitchhiker's" story involving Zaphod Beeblebrox, and, finally, 11 chapters of the unfinished Dirk Gently novel, entitled "The Salmon Of Doubt," which, although it is quite obviously an unpolished work-in-progress, is still very funny (though I'm saddened that we'll never know what happens to Dirk after Chapter 11, which is a terrible shame). Douglas Adams had so much more left to give to this world, he had so much more left to write. But we can take comfort in the great, hysterically funny gifts he did leave us---"Hitchhiker's" (not only the books but also the radio & TV series, and the feature film), "Dirk Gently," the travelogue book "Last Chance To See" (which succeeds as a serious piece sprinkled with great humor throughout), and his writing for the "Doctor Who" TV series. Douglas, as a longtime fan of yours, I just want to thank you for all the good cheer you've given me over the years. I will treasure your work & your memory 'til the end of my days, and perhaps even after that. "The Salmon Of Doubt" is a very fond farewell to the late, great Douglas Noel Adams.
24 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Wonderful, Bittersweet Send-Off... 15 mai 2002
Par Carl Malmstrom - Publié sur
In spite of the book's subtitle: "Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time", what "The Salmon of Doubt" contains, among other things, is the 79 rough-draft pages of what was probably going to be his third Dirk Gently novel. I say probably because he states many times in his various interviews and essays that "The Salmon of Doubt" may have eventually morphed into a Hitchhiker book or, perhaps, an unrelated, stand-alone book. What was included, though (pulled from three different drafts) is definitely Dirk Gently.
The rest of the book, though, is mainly interviews, essays and letters that he wrote over the course of his life and career. Ranging from his views on religion (an avid atheist) to his status as an author and a conservationist to his love of music and his memories of school, the book feels more like a conversation with him than a memorial. This seems to be for the best, though, as it gives a very thorough, balanced view of the man - including some of his shortcomings.
Of special note is the essay he wrote for P.G. Wodehouse's "Sunset at Blandings" - a discussion of the brilliance of Wodehouse's work and what it takes to read an unfinished book. Many of the passages seem especially poignant when reading the Dirk Gently chapters.
Also of note is the lament by Richard Dawkins, longtime fan, friend, biologist and author of "The Blind Watchmaker" and "The Selfish Gene". After reading repeatedly in the first three chapters how Dawkins' books changed Adams' life, it is touching to read how his books had such effect on Dawkins'.
Ultimately, this book is worth reading for anyone who was even a casual fan of Adams. It contains all the intelligence, wittiness and passion that makes his works worth reading (or listening to - or watching), but gives the feeling that you are actually getting to know the whole man for once. The tragedy of Adams' death seems most poignant after finishing the book and wishing that you could sit down and discuss his life, his theories or his opinions with him and knowing that the chance is forever past. If his books have ever interested you, read this one, too.
35 internautes sur 40 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 A Doubtful Salmon 30 juin 2002
Par charles falk - Publié sur
Sadly, I must disagree with most other reviewers on the merits of this well-intentioned pastiche from the computer files of the late Douglas Adams. People who have read and loved Adams' novels ought to see what a weak hodge-podge The Salmon of Doubt really is. Stephen Fry says on the dust jacket, "The bottom drawer of recently deceased writers is often best left firmly locked and bolted." He goes on to say this book is an exception. It's not. Adams, perfectionist that he was, would be embarrassed at what has been published in his name.
The material Adams actually wrote for novels-in-progress (three disparate fragments)amounts to just eighty pages. Though very funny, the writing is less polished than in his finished novels. And, of course, the reader is left with a tangle of plot threads like the "Little Dongly Things" Adams deplores in a MacUser article. The remainder of the book consists of previously published magazine articles, previously published interviews, a short comic sketch on Genghis Kahn published in a 1986 book, and a couple of letters. In the articles and interviews Adams occasionally comes across as querulous (on remodeling his home) or pompous (on the subject of his atheism). His best essays are on music -- from Bach to the Beattles -- where passion ignites his language.
I hope the people who control the material from Adams' computer files give us a book of his letters. Richard Dawkins, in his epilogue, says Adams was a prolific and funny email correspondent. The Collected Email of Douglas Adams might be a more fitting memorial to Adams than The Salmon of Doubt.
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