The Salmon of Doubt

The latest book on my audio book list, is The Salmon of Doubt, by Douglas Adams. I’m about 1/2 way through after listening to it mostly on the plane back and forth to Madison this past weekend.

While I’ve always been a fan of Douglas Adams for the Hitch Hikers books, and I was missing his comic brilliance last year when listening to the original radio dramas, I never fully realize how much of a man of science Douglas was. The Salmon of Doubt isn’t really a book, it is a collection of writings found on Douglas’s hard drive after his death, which included the beginning of a new book (though I’ve not even gotten that far yet). But the writings are awesome. His exposition on the 4 ages of sand, and the posit of an Artificial God are just brilliant, and deeply amusing all at the same time.

Jewel quotes include the following (during his exposition on the 4 ages of sand)

. . . imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!’ This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.

It is really a shame there won’t be any more work by Adams, but at least we’ve got this one last bit that gives a very good window into the man that he was. Any fans of science, or comic writing, should check it out.

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