To Your Scattered Bodies Go, The Fabulous Riverboat (Riverworld 1&2): by Philip Jose Farmer

This is the cover I got

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.

This is a cooler cover, and a cooler title

‘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’ 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!

About Deanne

I was born and raised out on the fringes of the rainy Pacific Northwest on fishing boats and cold beaches with only a dog and kittens for company, and so my love of reading and creating stories started very early. My dad would illustrate my early stories and I would listen to him ramble about European history and warfare, eagerly asking questions about Kings, Queens and our own family history. In my adult life I am wife to a brilliant and hilarious web designer and mother to two wonderfully weird children whom I am trying to pass on to my love of learning about the world. I'm an amateur genealogist, amateur photographer and amateur history major haha. I'm good at doing amateur stuff lol. During the last couple years I finally turned my life-long urge to write into a serious endeavor and finished my first novel called (for now) The Stone and the Stars, about a dying dystopian society, and one girl trying to escape it before it collapses. While I finish cleaning up the edges on my novel for the umpteenth time, and before I send it out into the world, I've lately begun a novel about utopia, this time on Earth. I'm finally living up to the nerdy book-worm title my family 'lovingly' pinned on me from the time I was small, and finally doing that one thing I feel like I was born to do. Cliche and silly? Yes!
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  1. Well I hope this time I can leave a comment, I came back to see if you had any new reviews of SF, guess not, but no worries we cant review everithing we read. I just finished reading several novels, Revelation Space, Solaris, Roadside Picnic, A martian Timeslip and some others, and from all of them I suggest if you have time to check our Revelation Space, its a Space Opera and it has a very good story, its rather entertaining, I really liked it.

    • Thank you I will actually check out everything that you mentioned I definitely have not been finding science fiction to read lately but never fear it still has a place in my heart. Thanks for the comment I appreciate it!

      • If you do check it out you will not be be disapointed. Solaris and Roadside Picnic are also rather interesting because one is from Lem who is Polish and the other one is from a couple of brothers who are Russian, so to see their point of view on the theme in SF where we as humans cant understand and cant comunicate with extraterrestrial life is rather unique.
        And right now I am reading Snow Crash from Neal Stephenson, the weird thing about this book is that some people love it, and some other people hated it, and its odd in the sense that I am not liking it, but at the same time I cant stop reading it hahaha.

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