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November 19, 2001
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Final Hitchhiker's Novel Found: A Salmon of a Doubt, the sixth novel in Douglas Adam's series, will be published next May upon Adam's death. But is this a serious effort from a man who was growing tired of the Hitchhiker's series towards the end of his life or an easy way to cash in on Adams's death, V.C. Andrews-style?
posted by ed (19 comments total)

 
And that should have read "upon the anniversary of Adams's death." My profuse apologies for that.
posted by ed at 12:56 AM on November 19, 2001


It says the book (or what they end up piecing together from the various drafts) will be released in a compendium with his other legacy works, including the HHGG movie screenplay.

I know he'd been working on the screenplay for almost a decade, and was apparently close to a filming draft. I wonder how this changes things. Are they calling off the movie? Are they going to release the screenplay of a film that may yet be made?
posted by kfury at 1:03 AM on November 19, 2001


As much as I loved the first 4, I really didn't like Mostly Harmless. It seemed a bit forced, and not as funny as the others. I highly recommend Last Chance to See though, even though it's non-fiction - its pure Adams.
posted by owillis at 1:16 AM on November 19, 2001


Part of me is worried that Adams wouldn't have wanted this unfinished work released; part of me just really really wants to read it. Color me torn.
posted by toddshot at 1:30 AM on November 19, 2001


I once saw a BBC produced Movie of The Guide. I found it in some rare corner of an obscure video/book store, and bought it. It contained only the first two "episodes" (as it was based on the radio show, and as the collected book tells us: the various arrangements in book, radio, and screenplay are all sorts of messed up), but needless to say it was very strange indeed.

The biggest problem with creating a movie or TV Series out of a longtime, cult classic book is that people already have their own interpretation of what Ford, Arthur, etc look like and talk like and sound like. More often than not, they don't want to see those things torn apart.

I'm not sure how I'd feel about a movie being put out that didn't have direct input from Mr. Adams Himself. And since that is not longer possible . . .
posted by christian at 1:38 AM on November 19, 2001


"I abandoned [The Salmon of Doubt] about halfway through because I just thought it was getting too dull," Adams said. "Since then, I've now got lots and lots of different story lines waiting for me to turn them into books. One of them I shall apply the title Salmon of Doubt to, but I don't know which one yet." [link]

My real concern is that there should be a required warning on the cover for potential buyers that this is a posthumous hack. It is coming out on some collecter's edition type book, so I'm not too worried any consumers will be misled to think he actually wrote, edited, and published this book.
posted by skallas at 1:50 AM on November 19, 2001


Christian - that was not a "movie" at all, but the first two episodes of the excellent (if ropey in terms of sets and budget) BBC TV series "The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy" from 1981. Definitely worth seeking out if you've never seen the whole thing, as, despite all the problems (such as Zaphod's second head - a remote control prosthetic - constantly failing and lolling to one side), it captured the spirit of Douglas' vision better than any Hollywood movie will do.
posted by benzo8 at 1:53 AM on November 19, 2001


benzo8: thanks for the clarification. I knew it was BBC produced, I was unaware that it was infact a television series.

I do agree with you, though. While often hokey at times, it was definately very much in the spirit of the book.

The second head did give me nightmares for a few days, though.
posted by christian at 1:58 AM on November 19, 2001


The BBC series was very groovy, and very close to the spirit of the books, I think. I loved the excerpts from the Guide, in particular. Crude animations by today's standards, but very well done.

Now I've got to go and dig up the video and have a HHGTG fest....
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:03 AM on November 19, 2001


I always thought that The Salmon of Doubt was just a UL. I've seen it referenced online several times over the years. I've even seen it mentioned in an interview with Adams, where he denied its existence. I've also heard it's a crossover between The Hitchhiker's universe and Dirk Gently's. I always liked the Dirk books better, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
posted by Fahrenheit at 2:04 AM on November 19, 2001


I have the Last Chance To See CD Rom and highly recommend it. John Cleese recently did something similar for public television, focusing on the lemurs, but Douglas Adams was the first humorous Brit to seek out endangered lifeforms and chronicle them for posterity in the most uniquely human ways. In so many ways his legacy is a living testament to the life of a creative dreamer. If only I had one fraction of his genius, I could actually write for a living. How I honorably envy that dead bastard. His excellent sense of comic timing. His love for words. I pray he and Graham Chapman are bellying up to a pub in heaven right now, commenting about the audacity of having been human.

The BBC miniseries came out soon after the second book's release, give or take a couple years. It was "complete" up to its point in time. A shame the BBC never thought to finish the job. Actually, according to my research they did. BBC sponsored an attempt to create a full-length motion picture. One rumor was that Bill Murray was hired for a role. Which one, I don't know. Supposedly they had much of it in the can when they stopped production, but it was so bad it was halted from public consumption, and locked away. If the rumor is true, we might get to see it now. When artists wind up dead, it's amazing how even their failures become successes after death. Just look at what Yoko Ono's done with John Lennon's work since his death.

Some years ago, I was involved in the early stages of what is now h2g2. I tried to incorporate into their project a sub-project that would allow fans of Douglas Adams to write the equivalent of "fan fiction" based on his wonderfully twisted view of the universe. It wasn't supposed to continue the stories of Arthur Dent, exactly, though I assumed he'd be in there somewhere eventually. The intent was to allow participants to tell stories about their favorite bit characters in the series. I had dubbed the project "Tales of The Big Bang Burger Bar."

It was soundly voted down by the people in England. They wanted the project to be nonfiction only. I like to think my heart was in the right place.

I doubt Adams would be comfortable with anyone writing his characters other than himself. Still, readaptations of works from other great minds like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and William Shakespeare have successfully kept the spirit of the original works alive in the hearts of millions for generations. It is my hope that in this new century and the ones beyond, those who get the chance to officially step in his shoes, are kind to them and don't step into too much caca.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:05 AM on November 19, 2001


[oh man. i had forgotten that DA was gone. *sigh*]

i'd love an edition that included the different revisions that were found.
posted by th3ph17 at 8:45 AM on November 19, 2001


They could turn it into a collaborative RPG... At several points you can choose Draft A or Draft B, and the eventual will of the readers would determine the 'definitive work.'
How HHG...
posted by kfury at 9:14 AM on November 19, 2001


The intriguing thing is how the late Adams has had his hard drive thoroughly probed by his former agents and managers. Personally, that's a damned creepy proposition. If I were to drop dead tomorrow and, hypothetically, some huckster were to go through my hard drive, he'd find a whole host of dreadful novels and screenplays that either I've abandoned or that are not meant to be released to the public.

I think of V.C. Andrews when it comes to this situation. Because we are currently doomed to read endless novels based off of ideas from her head. Why? Well, her estate authorized publishing houses to take every single outline and idea that she wrote and have hack writers finish the results.

Granted, it's quite possible we wouldn't have the insight into Kafka if Max Brod hadn't disobeyed Franz's request to burn all of his writings. But if A Salmon of a Doubt represents something that Adams did not want to see released, I'd hate to see it released into bookstores with people thinking that the potential weakness of this novel is an indication of what made Adams so fun. Is it viable to respect an artist's right to leave incomplete projects alone? Or is this wishful thinking?
posted by ed at 9:40 AM on November 19, 2001


As much as I loved the first 4, I really didn't like Mostly Harmless. It seemed a bit forced, and not as funny as the others.

I think The first 3 were brilliant. I thought both So Long, and Thanks for the Fish and Mostly Harmless were both forced. Neither of them has Zaphod in it, even though in So Long..., Adams is telling readers to skip ahead over the love scenes between Arthur and Fenchurch if they want to know more about Zaphod, Ford, Trillian and Marvin. Perhaps that was the joke.

And speaking of Fenchurch, Adams just wrote her off with little to no explanation. Guess she didn't work with Random Frequent Flyer and Trillian as well.

Those concerned with how literary houses will treat an "unauthorized" installment shouldn't worry. Adams seemed to have lost interest in the Guide long ago if the last 2 books are any indication.
posted by terrapin at 9:53 AM on November 19, 2001


a couple of years ago, Salmon of Doubt had even been "supposedly" released. I remember going to a local bookstore and asking about it, and they looked it up on the computer. It had an ISBN number and everything. The clerk said that it supposed to be out October of 1999. It was december/1999 at the time....needless to say, it was not on the shelf...

As for the other books: It took me two readings to actually understand what the heck was going on in Mostly Harmless, once I did, I loved it. And the Dirk Gently books are among my favorites. Electric Monk. haha.
posted by jaded at 12:32 PM on November 19, 2001


...he'd find a whole host of dreadful novels and screenplays that either I've abandoned or that are not meant to be released to the public.

If only that were the worst of it. Oh deary me....
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:10 AM on November 20, 2001


You know, it's not like he knew it was the end of his life.

I'd like to read it more for the insight into a brilliant creative mind, not as part of the series so much. I think the ending of Mostly Harmless pretty well brought that story to a close. The only way to revive it would have to be a link to Dirk Gently's, what with odd, time-traveling robotic monks and all.
posted by me3dia at 7:56 AM on November 20, 2001


For people with access to a Region 2 DVD player the H2G2 TV series is about to be released -- actually although it does indeed look rather cheap now, at the time much of the stuff in there was cutting edge. Visit the BBC Online Guide site (no not H2G2 - this is actually about the series) for more details. And actually the budget was so large it meant that they couldn't afford an whole series of The Goodies that year which led to the funky gibbons taking their giant cat to ITV ...
posted by feelinglistless at 2:55 PM on November 20, 2001


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