FINALLY some decent sci-fi after that last debacle! ‘Riverworld’ was a conglomerate of the first two books in the series, and as such my rating is in the middle.
‘To Your Scattered Bodies Go’ is a fascinating idea, although I will tell you right now (starting book five) you aren’t going to get any answers for a loooong time, so the idea here is to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. I might not have read the first two so frenetically if I’d known that so heads-up.
What if every human who had ever lived, including prehistoric man down through the end of the twentieth century, after death found themselves not in heaven or hell, nirvana or eternal sleep, but on a vast planet- woken naked as babes but with young and healthy bodies? This world is huge. Thirty billion people roam the vast shores of a river ten million miles long. Resurrected seemingly at random, with all food taken care of daily by a mysterious power, and all disease and infirmity gone, who did this and for what purpose?
The famous British explorer Richard Francis Burton who spent years in Africa looking for the source of the Nile only to be sideswiped by his buddy, (watch Mountains of the Moon it’s amazing) helms the first book. He is impetuous, bold, dashing, a clever linguist and a cynic at heart. What’s more, he woke up during the strange process before all humankind woke for good on the shores of the river, and that wasn’t supposed to happen. Burton is untroubled and immediately gathers a retinue including a Neanderthal dude who is endearing, Herman Goring who keeps popping up unpleasantly and Alice Pleasance Liddell who as a child was the inspiration for ‘Alice in Wonderland’, and sets off on a scaliwag adventure. I found him irreverent and likeable, probably just as the real man was supposed to have been.
You see, not only us billions of plebeians were resurrected, but the famous, the great, the mythical. What a great concept! Burton plays a cat and mouse game with the agents he comes to suspect engineered the Riverworld, and are also after his skin for some reason. Burton can’t be caught, he’s too slick. Or is he? He’s bound to trip up sometime.
Book two, ‘The Fabulous Riverboat’
introduced me to a new historical person: Samuel Clemens AKA Mark Twain. Just as I knew little to nothing about Sir Richard Burton, I know nothing of Clemens except of course ‘Tom Sawyer’ and ‘Huckleberry Finn’ of which I’ve read both. Prepare for some N- words! Well he did die in 1910 so we all suppose he wrote what he knew. Well Clemens had quite a complex life, which in Farmer’s imagination left Sam quite bitter and angry. Worse, those emotions are combined with cowardice and an abhorrence for violence.
Do you know what the most dangerous kind of person in the world is? It’s a coward. Think on that. Anyways, Clemens gets mixed up with King John ‘John Lackland’ of England, brother to the famous Richard the Lionheart, with a number of explosive interactions which are pretty hilarious. I don’t mind wily ol’ King John myself, he came from an age where you simply wouldn’t survive if you weren’t as oily as a snake. Clemens and John agree to build a giant riverboat together to find the source of the river. By now we know that shifty agents are on the lookout for a rogue number of their group now known as Ethicals, who is trying to botch the whole operation.
A number of humans have been told half-truths and set on their merry way to help derail the whole thing, and it appeals to each person’s base personality. Clemens daydreams about sporting the Captain’s hat of this fabulous boat, while lifting as few fingers as possible; John actively plans to steal it because why not? The natives of the river aren’t about to let this all happen lying down, extortion and wars ensue.
Unfortunately the second book is a ton of drivel about the actual building of the boat. I’m not a carpenter, I don’t care. I’m not a miner, I don’t care. I don’t know about minerals and production, I also don’t care. Still, the story is character driven and I’m hoping for more resolution in book three, and really hoping the reader gets to leave Sam Clemens cigar-filled angry little head.
This is probably the most plot I’ve covered in a review before, but sometimes it’s like that, you know? There was zero decent fan art for this, and I am VERY disappoint with my fellow nerds.
Ps. It’s totally a Sci-Fi channel movie. Aw yeahhhhh!