Talk:Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

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Plot synopsis[edit]

I intentionally did not put a plot synopsis of the book in the article. I feel that a spoiler warning would not be sufficient to stop people from reading the synopsis, and that it would be a shame to ruin a book that is this complex. (Summarizing up to the canal scene might be acceptable.) Besides, with the way the book is written, every detail begs to be summarized (especially if the summary reaches the end, where all the details come together), so the book is its own best summary.

I also think that the character descriptions serve the purpose of a plot synopsis -- to get the tone and character of the book across. Paullusmagnus 13:50 25 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Hi. I added a detailed plot synopsis to the article before seeing your note on the Talk page. I see your point, but would argue that a detailed synopsis that does show how the apparently disparate strands of the book's convoluted plot are connected (especially by the back story) is of use. If people don't want to read it, they don't have to. Conversely, if a synopsis is absent or removed, they don't have a choice! Any corrections are welcome. I couldn't work out exactly when the Salaxan ghost shifts to Richard. Even Dirk's comments are guesswork, as he wasn't factoring in the Electric Monk. Vivamancer 15:39, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

I was under the impression that the poem of import in the book was Rime of the Ancient Mariner, not Kubla Kahn. --Jherico 23:16, 2 Jul 2004 (UTC)

They're both relevant, but "Kubla Khan" is the really significant one. --Paul A 02:40, 20 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Corrected article to reflect this.--jet57 (ut) 10:56, 24 April 2007 (UTC) 14:59, 14 May 2005 (UTC)

I have no idea what is meant by the end of this line: 'Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency has been compared to Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid because Dirk Gently is actually based on the "fundamental interconnectedness of all things"—which is virtually the same thing as the chaos theory.' Godel Escher Bach was certainly not about chaos theory, it explored mathematical formalism, truth, proof and the emergence of meaning and possibly consciousness from self-reference. Chaos theory describes the unpredictable behaviour of a system with total sensitivity to initial variables, a totally different topic. --Remy B

See here: The reviewer Tal Cohen e-mailed Douglas Adams about this, and he said that although he had read Hofstadter's book, he didn't feel it was connected really.
I agree that the "connection" to GEB seems both tenuous and not terribly relevant. "Has been compared to" is misleading as it stands, because the comparison isn't from a noteworthy source. I'm going to take this out. Bombyx 04:31, 13 February 2006 (UTC)
One thing that, as far as I know, none of the discussions of the ending of DGHDA have mentioned is the true significance of the "albatross" - i.e. the new editor of Fathom magazine, described in the book as "A.K. Ross" or "Al", i.e. "Albert Ross". The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, following Dirk's conversation with Coleridge, attains the structure we know today, with the part about killing the albatross. However, Wenton-Weakes is already heard complaining about "the part with the bird" making no sense, before Dirk goes back and plants the albatross idea in Coleridge's mind. How is this, I wonder? Umop ap!sdn 11:31, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)
It would seem from the context that the albatross was already in the poem. Otherwise why would Richard tell Dirk to ask about it? I think it's just a joke on the fact the no one knows what the albatross means, and no one ever will. 18:30, 4 July 2007 (UTC)

I've moved the section on the sofa from Richard's bulletpoint in Characters to Notes, since it was out of place when you included the reference to Adams' RL experience. Tyrhinis 18:30, August 30, 2005 (UTC)

Should the salmon of doubt be mentioned here too?

You COULD mention Salmon of Doubt, in the context that that was slated to be the third Dirk Gently novel, never finished, etc etc. --JohnDBuell 12:28, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

Origins in Doctor Who[edit]

I have corrected the reference which said Professor Chronotis' longevity as being due to his "eccentric time machine". Chronotis is the one who is eccentric, not his time machine (I haven't seen it for years, but at one point I swear he says he's trying to have undergraduates "banned" from his College). My restoration is relevant inasmuch as it shows Adams's humour. That being said, I do wonder how much of the two Who stories needs to be described here. Any thoughts? ZarhanFastfire (talk) 03:38, 19 April 2013 (UTC)

How many it sold[edit]

Is it at all possible to get some figures as to how well this, as well as it's sequel, sold? Especially compared to The Guide? I've never had a clue as to how popular this was in relativity and can't imagine how to get such numbers myself.

Probably your only choices would be to contact the publishers (William Heinemann in the UK, and Pocket Books/Simon and Shuster in the US) and ask for figures. Another possibility would be to contact Nielsen Bookdata, - but be prepared to pay for figures received from the latter service. There are also ways to track Amazon's sales data, including the book's Amazon rank.... --JohnDBuell 12:01, 12 April 2006 (UTC)


Wasn't the weird calculator that Dirk bought called the I Ching? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Deathgecko (talkcontribs) 14:54, 6 December 2006.

Yes, but that was in the second book. --JohnDBuell 22:19, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
Oops, sorry. I knew that. --ArtifexCrastinus 18:31, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

Removed links to common words[edit]

I've removed many of the extraneous links (to words like "cat," "bathroom," and so on, and will get to the layout in a week or so unless someone beats me to it.

Fabulous Creature 17:21, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

Output of the "Lazy peer review" program[edit]

The following suggestions were generated by a semi-automatic javascript program.

You may wish to browse through User:AndyZ/Suggestions for further ideas. Thanks, Kweeket 21:49, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

"It has been" is used twice.
  • Due to these malfunctions, it has been ejected from civilisation with only a horse, as horses are rather cheap to produce. — Clearly not weasel words, but a statement of the plot.
  • Chaos theory, as it has been popularized, is therefore an appropriate context for this novel. — Not weasel words, per se, but it is an unsubstantiated opinion due to the second half, "Is therefore an appropriate context for this novel". I'm not sure what to do about it. Does that need a source?
In either case I crossed that line out of the review, as weasel words are not the issue. 18:49, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
  • Chaos theory, as it has been popularized, is therefore an appropriate context for this novel. - I changed this line to read, Chaos theory, in its accessible form popularized by writers such as James Gleick, is therefore an appropriate context for this novel. Gleick wrote those books that made chaos theory a household word. Kweeket 00:49, 6 July 2007 (UTC)
  • That's that then, but I take it there is more to do? — 01:31, 6 July 2007 (UTC)
  • Well, there is redundancy in the plot introduction and the plot summary that could be eliminated, as well as "Vague terms of size" somewhere... Kweeket 07:29, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

Instructions in Kubla Khan[edit]

What were these instructions? The book certainly doesn't say, other than that the ghost will never be able to end his torment and destroy life without them. Kubla Khan would also not be of much help here, as our version contains no instructions.

Clearly the plan involved going forward in time to change Kubla Khan before Wenton-Weakes went back 4 billion years in the past. But what he needed in Coleridge is purposely vague. Did Adams ever mention anything more specific? Right now we have two competing hypotheses. 1) That Kubla Khan was used to control Wenton-Weakes or any possible future host or 2) That the instructions for averting the disaster were in Kubla Khan, and Weakes wouldn't be able to change the past, by averting the launch and properly fixing the lander, without them. Is there any definitive proof for either of the hypotheses. 00:59, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

It's a joke that you don't get to find out. They go back and interrupt the poet in mid-flow so he can't recall all of his dream in the changed time-line at the end of the story (ie, our reality). It's not just the instructions that get erased, but also the reading at the collage that Richard and Reg have heard which is just referred to in passing. It's Douglas having a good old joke on the reader.  BRIANTIST  (talk) 18:33, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

THE FOLLOWING IS FULL OF SPOILERS Who needs the second part of 'Kubla Khan' anyway? The Ghost's problem is not that he did not know how to prevent the explosion (he is the engineer after all) but that he did not properly check that he had done so (by sending out a Monk rather than going himself). He will behave the same way without the extended 'Kubla Khan' (and it is not his possession of Michael which is prevented - Reg notes there will be two identical ghosts after Dirk has interrupted Coleridge, so Michael's walk to the landing craft at the end is made anyway). So what we need to know is: Ghost-in-Michael is on his way to tell Original-Ghost to be more careful about mending the landing craft, while Dirk & Co quickly sabotage 'Kubla Khan' and in so doing also sabotage Ghost-in-Michael's mission. How does that work? I haven't an answer to this question, and it's bothered me for 25 years. I can see that Adams might enjoy a joke at the reader's expense, but this is such a key part of understanding how the ending fits together that the explanation of a joke is just not enough. I'd be delighted to read a better analysis.

There are after all already clear inconsistencies in the book which do look like errors, even if they are made for the sake of humour: see the analysis of the albatross question above by other commentators.

Less importantly, can anyone work out how Reg manages to introduce Bach's music into our reality? Seems to me he has to live out Bach's whole life, starting as a well-documented baby in Eisensach. This really is a joke on the reader, and rather a good one which doesn't affect the main narrative. - Skraff, 15 March 2012— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:58, 15 April 2012 (UTC)

It is also worth noting that in a thread [1] on the official Message Boards on Douglas Adams' website when a reader inquired about the specific mechanics of how the ending worked out, Adams responded: "Ahem. All I can say is that it was as clear as day to me when I wrote it and now I can't figure it out myself. Sorry about that. I'm actually thinking about it at the moment as I've been re-reading the book in preparation for doing a screenplay. I've got a little bit of sorting out to do..." (talk) 12:24, 31 July 2016 (UTC)

New BBC Adaptation[edit]

In the article it says

"o make an 18 x 30 minute adaptation of Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently books. It will run over 3 series of 6 episodes and will begin in October of 2007"

There are only two completed books, which are this book and Long Dark. The Salmon of Doubt is unfinished. The press release "BBC - Press Office - Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency opens for business". Retrieved 2007-08-14.  makes clear that there is a "first series of six 30-minute episodes" but I thought that "and we've finished the last book too!!!!" would be an important element of a Press Release? Otherwise the page needs some trimming.  BRIANTIST  (talk) 18:38, 14 August 2007 (UTC) states there will be three series. The third will presumably be Salmon of Doubt. It does not state that each series will be 6 episodes long. Perhaps series 2 and 3 will be shorter, as were the Qandary and Quintessential phases of H2G2. 17:14, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

ah, but the product synopsis states this is the first of three 6X30-minute series - so 18 episodes it is, at least by their info. 02:36, 13 November 2007 (UTC)

The sofa[edit]

I got the impression that they prevented the sofa from getting stuck at the end, rather than causing it to get stuck, because if they'd caused the sofa to get stuck then that contradicts the entire rest of the book. The novel shows examples of changing the past, and alternate timelines - but if they caused the sofa to get stuck then that'd mean they were destined to time-travel and change the past... well, you get it. It's a contradiction.

Of course, if they prevented the sofa from getting stuck then it leaves unexplained how the sofa got stuck in the first place. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:26, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

~They actually _did_ get it stuck. "Who was that in the hall?" "That was the delivery man, bringing in your sofa. He asked if we could open the door so he could get it around the corner, and I said we'd be delighted." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:53, 28 January 2009 (UTC)

Misleading Plot Synopsis?[edit]

seems to me that the synopsis discusses mcduff erasing susan's answering machine to erase possible implicating evidence of his involvement in way's murder. however, in the book i have read (far too many times by now), he has no idea way is even murdered by then, and decided to erase his voice because he promised to take susan out the following weekend, when in fact (due to work concerns) he could not. am i incorrect in this? --Snideology (talk) 19:53, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

yes, you're right, it is misleading --Chnt (talk) 03:13, 11 March 2009 (UTC)

US Paperback Information[edit]

Published by Pocket Books, (May 1988), ISBN 0-671-66063-2. Looking at the article, just throwing this info in is no help. Someone may want to work it in (or not). PAV5150 (talk) 01:43, 3 April 2010 (UTC)

TV - 'Adaptation'[edit]

Should there be a separate linked page to this one off drama? Apart from the character names it bares little relation to the original book save the character of Dirk. I am not saying it was bad and should be dis-owned although I did find it disappointing it was not even an attempt at brining the original plot to the screen? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:40, 17 December 2010 (UTC)

Possibly, but we would need some reliable sources that demonstrate that this adaption is notable on its own. Regards SoWhy 13:08, 17 December 2010 (UTC)
I think its affinities with the original novel are close enough to merit keeping it on this article as it stands. If not, we can note that this televised version has a different plot, in the lede. --TS 17:58, 17 December 2010 (UTC)
I think for now it should stay where it is. If the BBC shoots more episodes then we might consider moving the show to its own page, but for now it's close enough to the original work and thus the two should be kept together. --Chnt (talk) 20:17, 26 December 2010 (UTC)
I've split this off now, as there was plenty of external coverage and other details that I think justified a separate article. Is there any chance that the radio adaptation/s could have a split article as well? It's just the radio adaptation already has a large separate section with cast lists, etc, as well as a slightly confusing fanboyish "differences from the novel" section. It might be nice for this article to be mainly about the novel. Any thoughts? Bob talk 00:12, 12 March 2011 (UTC)
Ok, fair enough. If theres's enough material then the split for the radio and tv adaptations are justified.--Chnt (talk) 13:12, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

I decided not to split the radio version off after all, but I did trim it down a little bit to remove the "list of differences". Luckily, the TV version has been commissioned for three more episodes. Bob talk 13:54, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

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