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Riverworld: Including To Your Scattered Bodies Go & The Fabulous Riverboat [Paperback]

Philip Jose Farmer
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Book Description

March 30 2010

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

To Your Scattered Bodies Go and The Fabulous Riverboat
Combined for the first time in one volume!

Imagine that every human who ever lived, from the earliest Neanderthals to the present, is resurrected after death on the banks of an astonishing and seemingly endless river on an unknown world. They are miraculously provided with food, but with not a clue to the possible meaning of this strange afterlife. And so billions of people from history, and before, must start living again.

Some set sail on the great river questing for the meaning of their resurrection, and to find and confront their mysterious benefactors. On this long journey, we meet Sir Richard Francis Burton, Mark Twain, Odysseus, Cyrano de Bergerac, and many others, most of whom embark upon searches of their own in this huge afterlife.


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Product Description

About the Author

Philip José Farmer was one of the great SF writers of the 20th Century. He lived in Peoria, Illinois.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1
His wife had held him in her arms as if she could keep death away from him. He had cried out, “My God, I am a dead man!” The door to the room had opened, and he had seen a giant, black, one- humped camel outside and had heard the tinkle of the bells on its harness as the hot desert wind touched them. Then a huge black face topped by a great black turban had appeared in the doorway. The black eunuch had come in through the door, moving like a cloud, with a gi­gantic scimitar in his hand. Death, the Destroyer of Delights and the Sunderer of Society, had arrived at last. Blackness. Nothingness. He did not even know that his heart had given out forever. Nothingness. Then his eyes opened. His heart was beating strongly. He was strong, very strong! All the pain of the gout in his feet, the agony in his liver, the torture in his heart, all  were gone. It was so quiet he could hear the blood moving in his head. He was alone in a world of soundlessness. A bright light of equal intensity was everywhere. He could see, yet he did not understand what he was seeing. What were these things above, beside, below him? Where was he? He tried to sit up and felt, numbly, a panic. There was nothing to sit up upon because he was hanging in nothingness. The attempt sent him forward and over, very slowly, as if he  were in a bath of thin treacle. A foot from his .ngertips was a rod of bright red metal. The rod came from above, from in.nity, and went on down to in.nity. He tried to grasp it because it was the nearest solid object, but something invisible was resisting him. It was as if lines of some force  were pushing against him, repelling him. Slowly, he turned over in a somersault. Then the re sis tance halted him with his .ngertips about six inches from the rod. He straightened his body out and moved forward a fraction of an inch. At the same time, his body began to rotate on its longitudinal axis. He sucked in air with a loud sawing noise. Though he knew no hold existed for him, he could not help .ailing his arms in panic to try to seize onto something.
Now he was face “down,” or was it “up”? Whatever the direction, it was opposite to that toward which he had been looking when he had awakened. Not that this mattered. “Above” him and “below” him the view was the same. He was suspended in space, kept from falling by an invisible and unfelt cocoon. Six feet “below” him was the body of a woman with a very pale skin. She was naked and completely hairless. She seemed to be asleep. Her eyes  were closed, and her breasts  rose and fell gently. Her legs  were together and straight out, and her arms  were by her side. She turned slowly like a chicken on a spit.
The same force that was rotating her was also rotating him. He spun slowly away from her, saw other naked and hairless bodies, men, women, and children, opposite him in silent spinning rows. Above him was the rotating naked and hairless body of a Negro.
He lowered his head so that he could see along his own body. He was naked and hairless, too. His skin was smooth, and the muscles of his belly  were ridged, and his thighs  were packed with strong young muscles. The veins that had stood out like blue  mole- ridges  were gone. He no longer had the body of the enfeebled and sick  sixty- nine- year- old man who had been dying only a moment ago. And the hundred or so scars were gone.
He realized then that there  were no old men or women among the bodies surrounding him. All seemed to be about  twenty- .ve years old, though it was dif.cult to determine the exact age, since the hairless heads and pubes made them seem older and younger at the same time.
He had boasted that he knew no fear. Now fear ripped away the cry forming in this throat. His fear pressed down on him and squeezed the new life from him.
He had been stunned at .rst because he was still living. Then his position in space and the arrangement of his new environment had frozen his senses. He was seeing and feeling through a thick semi-opaque window. After a few seconds something snapped inside him. He could almost hear it, as if a window had suddenly been raised.
The world took a shape which he could grasp, though he could not comprehend it. Above him, on both sides, below him, as far as he could see, bodies .oated. They  were arranged in vertical and horizontal rows. The  up- and- down ranks  were separated by red rods, slender as broomsticks, one of which was twelve inches from the feet of the sleep­ers and the other twelve inches from their heads. Each body was spaced about six feet from the body above and below and on each side.
The rods came up from an abyss without bottom and soared into an abyss without ceiling. That grayness into which the rods and the bodies, up and down, right and left, disappeared was neither the sky nor the earth. There was nothing in the distance except the lackluster of in.nity.
On one side was a dark man with Tuscan features. On his other side was an Asiatic Indian and beyond her a large  Nordic- looking man. Not until the third revolution was he able to determine what was so odd about the man. The right arm, from a point just below the elbow, was red. It seemed to lack the outer layer of skin.
A few seconds later, several rows away, he saw a male adult body lacking the skin and all the muscles of the face.
There  were other bodies that  were not quite complete. Far away, glimpsed unclearly, was a skeleton and a jumble of organs inside it.
He continued turning and observing while his heart slammed against his chest with terror. By then he understood that he was in some colossal chamber and that the metal rods  were radiating some force that some­how supported and revolved  millions— maybe  billions— of human be­ings.
Where was this place?
Certainly, it was not the city of Trieste of the Austro- Hungarian Empire of 1890.
It was like no hell or heaven of which he had ever heard or read, and he had thought that he was acquainted with every theory of the after­life.
He had died. Now he was alive. He had scoffed all his life at a  life-after- death. For once, he could not deny that he had been wrong. But there was no one present to say, “I told you so, you damned in.del!”
Of all the millions, he alone was awake.
As he turned at an estimated rate of one complete revolution per ten seconds, he saw something  else that caused him to gasp with amaze­ment. Five rows away was a body that seemed, at .rst glance, to be hu­man. But no member of Homo sapiens had three .ngers and a thumb on each hand and four toes on each foot. Nor a nose and thin black leathery lips like a dog’s. Nor a scrotum with many small knobs. Nor ears with such strange convolutions.
Terror faded away. His heart quit beating so swiftly, though it did not return to normal. His brain unfroze. He must get out of this situa­tion where he was as helpless as a hog on a turnspit. He would get to somebody who could tell him what he was doing  here, how he had come here, why he was here.
To decide was to act.
He drew up his legs and kicked and found that the action, the reac­tion, rather, drove him forward a  half- inch. Again, he kicked and moved against the resis tance. But, as he paused, he was slowly moved back to­ward his original location. And his legs and arms  were gently pushed to­ward their original rigid position.
In a frenzy, kicking his legs and moving his arms in a swimmer’s breaststroke, he managed to .ght toward the rod. The closer he got to it, the stronger the web of force became. He did not give up. If he did, he would be back where he had been and without enough strength to be­gin .ghting again. It was not his nature to give up until all his strength had been expended.
He was breathing hoarsely, his body was coated with sweat, his arms and legs moved as if in a thick jelly, and his progress was imperceptible. Then, the .ngertips of his left hand touched the rod. It felt warm and hard.
Suddenly, he knew which way was “down.” He fell.
The touch had broken the spell. The webs of air around him snapped soundlessly, and he was plunging.
He was close enough to the rod to seize it with one hand. The sudden checking of his fall brought his hip up against the rod with a painful im­pact. The skin of his hand burned as he slid down the rod, and then his other hand clutched the rod, and he had stopped.
In front of him, on the other side of the rod, the bodies had started to fall. They descended with the velocity of a falling body on Earth, and each maintained its  stretched- out position and the original distance be­tween the body above and below. They even continued to revolve.
It was then that the puffs of air on his naked sweating back made him twist around on the rod. Behind him, in the vertical row of bodies that he had just occupied, the sleepers  were also falling. One after the other, as if methodically dropped through a trapdoor, spinning slowly, they hurtled by him. Their heads missed him by a few inches. He was fortunate not to have been knocked off the rod and sent plunging into the abyss along with them.
In stately pro cession, they fell. Body after body shooting down on both sides of the rod, while the other rows of millions upon millions slept on.
For a while, he stared. Then he began counting bodies; he had always been a devoted enumerator. But when he had counted 3,001, he quit. After that he gazed at the cataract of .esh. How far up, how immeasur­ably far up, were they stacked? And how far down could they fall? Un­wittingly, he had precipitated them when his touch had disrupted the force emanating from the rod.
He could not climb up the rod, but he could climb down it. He began to let himself down, and then he looked upward and he forgot about the bodies hurtling by him. Somewhere ov...

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Most helpful customer reviews
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Riverworld March 17 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Very to long. In many occasion i loose interest. And it seem to have another book coming where Sam and Burton will meet.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  46 reviews
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Pinnacle of Fantasy/Sci-Fi June 28 2010
By Stephen R. Finney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Riverworld, To Your Scattered Bodies Go, The Fabulous Riverboat, and all the other Riverworld stories are as good as it gets within the genre of fantasy. Imagine a world that is one long riverbank, along which live the entire population of Earth. All their needs are met leaving them with time on their hands to engage in any and all manner of pursuits, both good and evil. You are there among the crowd as are all your family, neighbors, and friends. Among those who play rolls in these books are Richard Francis Burton, Mark Twain, Herman Goering, King John Lackland, Motzart, Tom Mix, and many others. The possibilites for intrigue are endless. Reading this series you will be drawn in to their world to experience life anew. Don't miss out on an opportunity to live on Riverworld if only for the amount of time it takes to read all the books; you won't regret it. I have read the eitire series several times and never get tired of the story. I suspect that once you have read it once, you too will go back and re-read the story also. Were it possible to give Riverworld 10 stars, I'd do so without hesitation.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What is your idea of heaven? Oct. 5 2010
By Brian K. Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Heaven, life after death, even Hell, are things that can drive us to endless distraction. Not surprisingly, they are also hot topics for science fiction writers. "Riverworld: Including To Your Scattered Bodies Go & The Fabulous Riverboat" is Philip Jose Farmer's classic, literary, and often brilliant attempt to deal with this question. In Farmer's vision humanity is resurrected on a world with a river that starts at the north pole, winds a long, circuitous route around the planet, and dumps back into the north pole. At the pole is also an island with a grand building that becomes the goal of the book's protagonists. They devise a variety of schemes to arrive there, all without the aid of modern industry or even any kind of economy. Farmer's vision of humanity is somewhat dark. The one theme that bothers me is the unrepentant evil that Farmer portrays as the defining feature of humanity and their newfound world. While it is not a "hell", per se, Farmer's vision of the afterlife is far more dystopian than utopian, unnecessarily so in many cases. Despite this, River World is a fascinating look at one possible afterlife and the consequences it creates.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic science fiction. One of the most creative works of English literature. Oct. 31 2011
By Solipso - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Riverworld is a planet covered by one long, long river, winding back and forth and up and down from pole to pole. Adjacent banks are separated by unscalable cliffs, necessitating travel by foot along the banks of The River, or by some kind of river craft. But there are rare exceptions.

If you were a human being who was more than five years old when you died, and if you lived and died any time beyond 99,000 B.C. up to and including 1983 A.D., you are resurrected along the banks of The River. If you lived and died beyond 1983, you will also be resurrected there, but you are not in this particular Riverworld saga. Famous persons who are in this saga are Mark Twain, Jack London, Hermann Goring, and Mozart. Less famous persons are numerous, including Sir Richard Francis Burton, Alice Liddell, Cyrano de Bergerac, and Tom Mix.

The story involves characters trying to discover who built Riverworld and why it was built. Mysteries arise, secrets are revealed, hardships and treacheries are endured. Eventually, after some twists and turns, everything comes to light.

Five novels are included in the four volumes of Tor's latest trade-paperback editions. The first volume, RIVERWORLD, contains the first two novels: TO YOUR SCATTERED BODIES GO and THE FABULOUS RIVERBOAT. These two are short, but they are agreeably paced and stick to the storyline. Increasingly as you progress through DARK DESIGN, THE MAGIC LABYRINTH, and GODS OF RIVERWORLD, more and more passages are slow. Depending on the reader, they are not necessarily bad, but neither are they necessary for the progression of the story. For example, we get mini biographies of some of the historical characters. Also, particularly in the last two books, characters think and talk about philosophical issues, like the human soul.

Despite the questionable material, Philip José Farmer's prose is very accessible. But I think it is unfair to include content like the questionable material, which many if not most readers neither expect nor want when they look for science fiction. Therefore, to caution you about this material, I lower my rating by one star.

If you can overlook the unorthodox content, go ahead and give the series five stars. The story is a classic, smartly contrived, putting you in touch with concepts that you will never forget.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars need the rest of the series now April 29 2010
By Tracy Simmons - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was the first time I read anything by Farmer and I loved it! Lots of twists and turns. Since Riverworld was one of the very few books my husband read and liked I thought I would try it. I was not disappointed. Only now need the other three books in the series to become available on the Kindle.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than just the best sci fi series ever written Nov. 5 2010
By farmerfan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Yes folks, the Riverworld series by Farmer is the best sci fi series ever written, by the best science fiction novelist ever. Now that sounds like a tall claim but is easily justified if you read the series and have a familiarity with other science fiction. Critics such as Fiedler have also labelled Farmer the best there ever was, but I have thought this ever since I first experienced " To Your Scattered Bodies Go" as a 17 year old. The concept itself is mind blowing ( all the people who ever lived on Earth resurrected on a new world by future advanced beings.) The science is plausible and shows what a genius Farmer is - he wrote this in the early 70's before gene technology and IVF etc even existed. The research he must have done is oustanding - all his characters are true historical figures- and then the way he makes them interact with each other is believable and compelling. But this is not just a science fiction series. It is a philosophical meditation on the human condition. You can see yourself in this book, and imagine how you would react if you had been resurrected on this world. The mystery of who created the Riverworld, and what the characters will find when they reach the mystical Tower will keep you feverishly reading on. Sci Fi novels that are just full of science concepts do not appeal to a large audience. But the Riverworld series is about people and how they interact. Furthermore, it is only when you read Philip Jose Farmer that you are exposed his real , no nonsense exploration of human psychology, warts and all, and the way he interweaves this with mind-blowing science fiction concepts is unique and a true joy to behold.
I have now read the entire series half a dozen times and I never get tired of this incredible journey.
Enjoy!
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