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The Fabulous Riverboat [Paperback]

Philip Jose Farmer
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 28 1998 Riverworld Saga (Book 2)
Resurrected on the lush, mysterious banks of Riverworld, along with the rest of humanity, Samuel Langhorne Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) has a dream: to build a riverboat that will rival the most magnificent paddle-wheelers ever navigated on the mighty Mississippi. Then, to steer it up the endless waterway that dominates his new home planet--and at last discover its hidden source.

But before he can carry out his plan, he first must undertake a dangerous voyage to unearth a fallen meteor. This mission would require striking an uneasy alliance with the bloodthirsty Viking Erik Bloodaxe, treacherous King John of England, legendary French swordsman Cyrano de Bergerac, Greek adventurer Odysseus, and the infamous Nazi Hermann Göring. All for the purpose of storming the ominous stone tower at the mouth of the river, where the all-powerful overseers of Riverworld--and their secrets--lie in wait . . .

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In To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip José Farmer introduces readers to the awesome Riverworld, a planet that had been carved into one large river on whose shores all of humanity throughout the ages has seemingly been resurrected. In The Fabulous Riverboat, Farmer tells the tale of one person whose is uniquely suited to find the river's headwaters, riverboat captain and famous Earthly author Sam Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain). Clemens has been visited by "X," a mysterious being who claims to be a rebel among the group that created Riverworld. X tells Clemens where he can find a large deposit of iron and other materials that Clemens can use to build the greatest riverboat ever seen. Since there is virtually no metal on the planet, it will also give Clemens an unbeatable edge when it comes to battling the various warlike societies that dominate the Riverworld.

But Clemens is not alone in his quest for the iron, which arrives on the planet in the form of a giant meteorite. In fact, Clemens is besieged on all sides by forces determined to seize the precious ore, leading him to make a deadly pact with one of history's most notorious villains, John Lackland. Lackland's crimes during his reign as king of England were so hideous that no other English monarch will ever carry his name, and he's up to equally nefarious tricks on Riverworld. However, Clemens has a guardian angel in the form of Joe Miller, a giant subhuman with a big nose, a serious lisp, and a cutting wit. Miller has also been to the very headwaters of the river, where he saw a mysterious tower in the middle of the North Sea and where the creators of Riverworld are thought to reside. He will be an invaluable ally in completing the riverboat and sailing to the headwaters, but even an 800-pound giant may not be enough to help Clemens fulfill X's mission. --Craig E. Engler

From the Back Cover

--Books and Bookmen

"Charts a territory somewhere between Gulliver's Travels and The Lord of the Rings."

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
All of humanity has been resurrected along the shores of The Riverworld, though no one knows why. Guided by a rebel from among the ranks of those who created the place, Sam Clemens and his friends build a riverboat like the ones from Clemens' Mississippi days to search out the headwaters of the river and the mysterious castle which is rumored to exist there. In the process, they build a nation and become involved in war and intrigue with their neighbors.
I was enjoying this novel. The prose is unexceptional, but efficient and workmanlike, and Farmer tells a decent story in an interesting setting. Then Farmer introduces the neighboring state of Soul City and its leader, Elwood Hacking, and derails the whole thing. Hacking is a former slave who is founding an all-black state where "soul brothers and soul sisters can loaf and invite their souls." He is irrational and reactionary. One of his final acts is to rape a white woman and a passage describing them glimpsed in a window together contrasts the woman's "long honey-colored hair and very white skin" with "the bushy hair and black face of Elwood Hacking" in a very distasteful way. Given his fair treatment of other black characters such as Hugo Firebrass and Jill Gulbirra (from the next book in the series), I am not convinced that Farmer is an unqualified racist, but I was puzzled and disquieted by this aspect of the novel.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Take a trip on the neverending river... Aug. 17 2003
The second book in Farmer's imaginative Riverworld series is better written although the plotting can occasionally still be a bit haphazard. Like To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Riverboat was originally serialized prior to publication. Despite some rewriting by Farmer, the second novel's pacing is inconsistent. The characters, like the first novel, are interesting and imaginatively portrayed. A fair warning, however, since most of these characters are from the 19 or early 20th Centuries, they aren't the most enlightened males. There's a hint of misogny and sexism at the core of many of these characters. I don't believe that reflects Farmer's point of view. Instead, it reflects the attitude and era of the male characters. What compounds this minor flaw, though, is the fact that Farmer couldn't convincingly write a strong female character(a problem that dogged the first novel). Here he primarily sticks to the male characters and the novel benefits from it.
Sam Clemens (aka Mark Twain), like Richard Burton, is intent on discovering the source of the great river and identifying the people who resurrected humanity. His companions include Joe Miller a brutish prehuman giant who, surprisingly, shows more humanity than most of Clemens' friends; World War 1 flying ace Von Richthofen who provides a sense of balance to Clemens' dark view of humanity and Erik Bloodaxe a harsh and cruel viking that is has Clemens as a member of his crew chiefly because Clemens claims to know a source for iron.
Clemens goal is to build a marvelous riverboat that will help him achieve his goal of discovering the motives of X the mysterious stranger who appears out of nowhere to help him (just as he did Burton) in his quest and why they've all been returned to life.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Still quite good... June 27 2002
This is the 2nd book in the riverworld series and the main character is Samuel Clemens otherwise known as the famous writer Mark Twain. He and his party decide to seek metal ore so that they can build a Riverboat and travel to the headwaters of the river. Most of the Story is spent in Sam getting the Riverboat built and the wars that are caused by the scarcity of the metal ore.
The main character of Clemens is quite a bit different in comparison with Burton from the first novel. And when you first start this novel you will be longing for the original party from "To your scattered bodies go." Clemens is a lot weaker in body and spirit than Burton. He is in fact the opposite when it comes to physical fitness and leadership. Nevertheless he is always in charge. The real fun of this novel over the previous is Clemens's sidekick named Joe Miller who is a Titanthrop or real life giant weighing over 800 lbs. and standing 9 feet tall.
The major enemy in this book is Prince John of England.
This book isn't better than the previous one because the story isn't as good the basic idea of the river world isn't as original and the characters aren't as fun. But this novel is a very close second to the previous one and it also explores alot things that the previous one did not have a chance to. For example life on the riverworld is now just getting to it's full thriving point. People are settling in and forming real states and countries along the river, the wars for the metal ore are also worth mentioning as their detail and excitement keep the reading turning the pages.
A good 2nd to the series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating instalment to the series Feb. 5 2002
Once you have become familiar the Riverworld concept, having read " To Your Scattered Bodies Go", this second book really is fascinating. It deals with how Mark Twain interacts with treacherous characters such as rotten King John, as well as his earthly wife Livy(who is now in love with Cyrano de Bergerac)as he pursues his dream of building the Boat which will take him to the headwaters of the River, in order to solve the mystery of the Riverworld. Farmer excels in bringing these characters to life, and shows his excellent grasp of human nature in his portrayal of the wars of neighbouring nations, and the fights for supremacy that really would occur in this scenario. Using real life characters somehow even adds more realism to this amazing tale. Farmer's imagination is unparalleled, and the Riverworld series is a must for anyone with a sense of wonder.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars fairly enjoyable pulp
not much more to say. It's pulp, but good enjoyable stuff.
Books 1 and 2 are vastly superior because, not despite this. Read more
Published on June 15 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars THITH WATH THO DITHRACTING....
Yes overall a good story, but my god it dragged like a dead dog. I found the charater of Joe Miller most distracting - I literally had to read the parts out loud for the first two... Read more
Published on May 28 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good
I am a huge fan of Mark Twian's books, so when I heard that he was a main charecter of a bok I was very sectical and didn't think the book would be any good. Read more
Published on April 29 2003 by General Pete
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow Paced and Boring
I had a real hard time with getting past the first half of this book. Maybe because I hadn't read book 1 in the series. Or maybe because the pace is "painfully" slow. Read more
Published on Oct. 8 2002 by Michael A. Newman
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fabulous Riverboat and Riverworld series
This is one of my all-time great series. Since everyone who ever lived is in this world, I keep on looking for myself in the story. Read more
Published on Feb. 2 2002 by Carl Williams
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Adventure
After focusing on Sir Richard Burton in the first Riverworld book, Farmer shifts the viewpoint to Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain). Read more
Published on Feb. 11 2001 by M. Broderick
5.0 out of 5 stars awe some----cant put it down
makes u wanna buy em all at once
Published on June 14 2000 by Ruth S. King
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Sci-fi , can't wait to read the sequel.
I read this book 20years ago and have not been able to find this book or it's sequel. Not remembering the authors name made it that much more difficult. Read more
Published on Sept. 12 1999
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and distracting
After presenting such a wonderfully consistant and believable view of River World in 'To your scattered bodies go', I was repeatedly stunned by the unbelievable circumstances he... Read more
Published on Aug. 24 1999
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