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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag of goodies, December 22, 2007
This review is from: The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time (Audio CD)
An interesting little volume filled with Adams' musings about a wide-ranging array of topics. Some of the essays and articles here are quite good, and others are, well, not quite so good. But they are all written with Adams' trademark zany wit, and you certainly won't be bored.

The good:
As usual, his observations about the foibles of life, whether it's his mortification about having to wear short pants to school because they didn't make long trousers his size, or the story about the stranger stealing his cookies, are hilarious. And his passionate enthusiasm for his personal values, whether it's technology or the Beatles, shines through in every line and is therefore quite contagious. He has a way of turning a phrase to bring an abstract point down to earth, especially when it comes to his criticism of theism. And some of his analogies between evolution and computer science are quite illuminating, particularly his observation that computer code is analogous to the genetic code in showing how evolution operates by performing simple operations millions of times over.

The bad:
As an amateur biologist, however, Adams does tend to get carried away with the computer analogies--no, Douglas, your baby is not "rebooting." Combine this tendency with his otherwise virtuous enthusiasm, and, like many computer scientists, he carries it to the point of assuming that we are on the verge of creating "artificial intelligence," i.e., that in the near future there will be conscious computers. This failure to distinguish between the biological and the man-made plays right into the theists' hands--after all, that's the basic fallacy behind the argument from design (the Celestial Watchmaker and all that), Adams has just kind of done it in reverse. And his playing at being a naturalist is at times almost embarrassing--like when he wants to ride a manta ray, which would probably be pretty cool, and then feels all stupid when told he can't, or when he hikes to Mount Kilimanjaro in a ridiculous rhino suit (although he does recognize the pretension of telling developing nations that they preserve the resources that Western nations "exploited" during their own development).

As for "The Salmon of Doubt" itself, I haven't read either of the previous Dirk Gently novels yet, but I thought this one was shaping up to be, with more polishing, an interesting book. Of course, in its rough form, and with no ending, it is a bit unsatisfying. Overall, however, this collection is well worth reading, and the audiobook edition is well-read by Simon Jones, with all the introductions given heartfelt readings by their respective authors.
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