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"Hitchhiker's Guide" catches final ride

An unfinished novel by science-fiction writer Douglas Adams will be published next year and released on the anniversary of his death.

An unfinished novel by science-fiction writer Douglas Adams will be published next year and released on the anniversary of his death, according to published reports.

"A Salmon of a Doubt," the sixth installment in Adams' cult classic, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," is being edited from files found on the author's computer, the U.K.-based Sunday Telegraph reported. A version of the novel will appear in a collection of Adams' work, the Telegraph said.

The new story builds on Adams' satirical 1979 "Hitchhiker's Guide," which followed the search by alien Ford Prefect and his human companion Arthur Dent for an answer to "life, the universe and everything." Adams' other works include "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe," "Life, the Universe and Everything" and "So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish."

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" started as a BBC radio series, became a novel that sold more than 14 million copies worldwide, and was adapted into a low-budget British TV series. Adams had been working on a film version of the novel before he died of a heart attack in May, at the age of 49.

The "Hitchhiker's" series went on to influence other writers, comic book publishers and even people in decidedly non-literary circles. The Babel Fish translation used by the AltaVista Web portal, for example, is named after a small fish featured in Adams' book that allows people to understand all alien dialects if it is placed deep inside the ear.

Adams went on to write several other works, including another quirky series about "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" and a more serious book about endangered species worldwide. None reached the cult status of his original work, however.

"A Salmon of a Doubt," intended as the conclusion to the "Hitchhiker's" series, was reportedly in the works for 11 years. Ed Victor, Adams' literary agent, told the Telegraph: "We have pored over Douglas's hard drive. There were so many different versions of the novel. He would take it and then revise it repeatedly so there were many files...As soon as he wrote anything he would say, 'Oh God, that's terrible.' He was a very, very self-critical author."

News.com's John Borland contributed to this report.