A beautiful sendoff, Douglas, wherever you are.

THE SALMON OF DOUBT

HITCHHIKING THE GALAXY ONE LAST TIME

Posthumous trunkful of items found on four beloved Mac computers belonging to the late high-techie best known for his first novel, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979).

Chosen from over 2,579 entries, magazine pieces, Web site squibs, etc., the collection’s longest piece is “The Salmon of Doubt,” ten chapters selected and rearranged from those Adams wrote over a ten-year period for his novel-in-progress, the third book in the Dirk Gently Holistic Detective Agency series that also included The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (1989). A long prologue, written in 2000 by British journalist Nicholas Wroe, includes much interview material and gives a sketch of Adams’s life and ebullience, of his writing venues and love of Monty Python, his first $2 million-dollar contract with an American publisher while he was still in his mid-20s, his adored but angst-ridden fallow periods, which required much gadget-buying, and so on. The pieces here bounce with charm: Adams discourses on awaiting his favorite magazine at 12, his endless love affair with the Beatles, his curiously substantial nose that will not admit air, the refreshing shock of reading Richard Dawkins on evolution, dogs excitedly hurling themselves against walls, “The Little Computer That Could,” his radical atheism, whiskey, the writing life, the rhinoceros, Bach, and “The Private Life of Genghis Khan” (written with Monty Python’s Graham Chapman). Also included: his introduction to The Meaning of Liff and a superb appreciation of P.G. Wodehouse’s unfinished last novel, Sunset at Blandings. Fans will dig the paranormal but incomplete “The Salmon of Doubt” itself. Dirk Gently first turns down then accepts a job to find the missing half of a Siamese cat whose front half conducts itself as if the aft half were still there. Among Dirk’s friends is Thor, the ancient Norse God of Thunder, who bellows into telephones from ten feet off, “which made actual conversation well-nigh impossible.”

A beautiful sendoff, Douglas, wherever you are.

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-4000-4508-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harmony

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2002

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A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

A BLIGHT OF BLACKWINGS

Book 2 of Hearne's latest fantasy trilogy, The Seven Kennings (A Plague of Giants, 2017), set in a multiracial world thrust into turmoil by an invasion of peculiar giants.

In this world, most races have their own particular magical endowment, or “kenning,” though there are downsides to trying to gain the magic (an excellent chance of being killed instead) and using it (rapid aging and death). Most recently discovered is the sixth kenning, whose beneficiaries can talk to and command animals. The story canters along, although with multiple first-person narrators, it's confusing at times. Some characters are familiar, others are new, most of them with their own problems to solve, all somehow caught up in the grand design. To escape her overbearing father and the unreasoning violence his kind represents, fire-giant Olet Kanek leads her followers into the far north, hoping to found a new city where the races and kennings can peacefully coexist. Joining Olet are young Abhinava Khose, discoverer of the sixth kenning, and, later, Koesha Gansu (kenning: air), captain of an all-female crew shipwrecked by deep-sea monsters. Elsewhere, Hanima, who commands hive insects, struggles to free her city from the iron grip of wealthy, callous merchant monarchists. Other threads focus on the Bone Giants, relentless invaders seeking the still-unknown seventh kenning, whose confidence that this can defeat the other six is deeply disturbing. Under Hearne's light touch, these elements mesh perfectly, presenting an inventive, eye-filling panorama; satisfying (and, where appropriate, well-resolved) plotlines; and tensions between the races and their kennings to supply much of the drama.

A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-345-54857-3

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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DUNE

This future space fantasy might start an underground craze.

It feeds on the shades of Edgar Rice Burroughs (the Martian series), Aeschylus, Christ and J.R. Tolkien. The novel has a closed system of internal cross-references, and features a glossary, maps and appendices dealing with future religions and ecology. Dune itself is a desert planet where a certain spice liquor is mined in the sands; the spice is a supremely addictive narcotic and control of its distribution means control of the universe. This at a future time when the human race has reached a point of intellectual stagnation. What is needed is a Messiah. That's our hero, called variously Paul, then Muad'Dib (the One Who Points the Way), then Kwisatz Haderach (the space-time Messiah). Paul, who is a member of the House of Atreides (!), suddenly blooms in his middle teens with an ability to read the future and the reader too will be fascinated with the outcome of this projection.

With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and it should interest advanced sci-fi devotees.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1965

ISBN: 0441013597

Page Count: 411

Publisher: Chilton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1965

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