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To Your Scattered Bodies Go [Hardcover]

4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Resurrection time! June 26 2004
Philip José Farmer is a groundbreaking writer that in the '50s & '60s starts turmoil in the scene of Sci-fi. Up to that time the genre was almost aseptic, romance: yes, sex: no. PJF launched his short story "The Lovers" (1952) and started a change; "Flesh" (1960) and "Riders of the Purple Wage" (1967) are interesting examples amongst other of the same kind. The other unconventional thematic he approached is: "What happens after death", good example of this was his dark novel "Inside/Outside" (1964) and an excellent short story as "A Bowl Bigger than Earth" (1967).
"To Your Scattered Bodies Go" pertains to this last group. Humankind as whole is resurrected, except those who had died in childhood. Along both coast of an immense river, 15,000 miles long, they are scattered in groups composed 90% from an age and place and a 10% from elsewhere and elsewhen. They are all given a 20's years old body but with full memory of their past lives. Sir Richard Francis Burton, an English a mid 19th Century explorer and adventurer, is the central character of the novel. He is described unadorned, as a ruthless egotistic person, yet full of charisma and an energetic drive. He put himself to the task of discovering what's going on. Along his stride he meets other famous and infamous historical characters as Hermann Goring, Alice Liddell (the little girl that inspired Alice Wonderland to his author). He also encounters fictional people as a Neanderthal and an alien from outer space.
On this background an interesting and captivating novel is developed. Unfortunately this is the first installment of Riverworld series and as volumes passes the quality dwindle as well as the interest in the story. Nevertheless this book and the next are great and deserve to be read.
Reviewed by Max Yofre.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An all-in-one reading experience -- brilliant! May 27 2004
Philip José Farmer picked up his third Hugo Award for this 1972 book, his first win for Best Novel. He deserved it. Packing the story into a mere 215 pages, a slender volume compared to doorstops most science fiction and fantasy writers churn out today, Farmer managed to create a science-fiction novel of grand scope that wears many different masks: it's an adventure story, an examination of the development of cultures, an amusing literary exercise, a satire on human tendencies, and a character study. Every reader will find something here to enjoy, and because Farmer knits it all into a seamless whole, even the most discerning and picky reader will find him or herself enjoying every dimension of the book.
This novel introduces the setting of "Riverworld," a mysterious planet where the entire human race from all time periods is suddenly a inexplicably 'resurrected.' Constructs known as grails provide food and other items for the billions of humans. Who or what created the Riverworld, and why did it reconstruct the whole of the human race? That question hangs over the entire story, as our hero, the legendary Victorian adventurer, Orientalist, anthropoligist, writer, and swordsman Richard Francis Burton, sets out on a quest to locate the masters of Riverworld. He has some interesting companions: a 20th century American, an alien visitor from the last days of Earth, a Neanderthal, the woman who inspired the character of Alice in Wonderland, and...well, Nazi leader Hermann Göring. Burton want to uncover the secrets of Riverworld, but the entities responsible for it want to find him as well, for he holds a secret that they desperately need.
"Riverworld" moves at a rapid page-turning.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A historian's dream May 16 2004
Suppose you could be alive on the same planet as all the most interesting and intriguing people who ever lived (along with all the others who, though less interesting, took up space, ate, fornicated, fought wars to suit the interests of others and generally made nuisances of themselves)?
It's a great concept and Jose Farmer managed to carry the fantasy to amazing extremes through this series of books. The wars of the final future of humanity, the dreams and aspirations, the mysteries and the ennui involve all the humans who ever lived, plus an alien or two and some others. Every intelligent being, I might have said, ever to die on the face of the planet earth, all at once.
Any world where John Longshanks, Sir Richard Burton, Mark Twain, Jesus, Hermann Goering and everyone else is striving, competing and following the agendas and personality traits of their life on Planet Earth is bound to be worth a read, and this one is.
Go for it, lean back and allow yourself to imagine the afterlife in a way you'd never dreamed of it being.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A new, unexplainable world of raised dead March 24 2004
This is the first of the Riverworld series I've read, and picked it up quite by accident and found within the first two chapters that I was reading the inspiration for the SciFi TV movie "Riverworld" which I quite enjoyed about a year ago.
Famous explorer and author Richard Burton awakes after his death to find all the pains of life near the end gone and himself floating among many bodies all around him. He is discovered and then plunges back into darkness to find himself awaking in a grassy meadow by a river surrounded by hundreds of others just waking. They are people from various times, some who know of him, and an alien and a proto-human neanderthal among them. Many belive themselves to be in purgutory, heaven, or hell, but a few know this cannot be an afterlife, there is something else at work here.
Amid the chaos which first ensues he embarks to gather a group to protect themselves from any others who may wish them ill, and then to build a boat to navigate the source of the river. Along the way they find historical figures, both great and evil who help or impede thier journey. And, miraculasly, it seems they do not die permanently in this world, but are rather resurected again somewhere else along the eternal river along who's banks the entirety of every human who has ever lived now exists.
Burton is driven to find the source of all that has transpired, why are they here? What is the purpose of thier resurection? Are those forces malevelont or benevolent? I must now embark to read the rest of the series to find out!
A quick read, I finished in several hours. Charachter development is lacking, but the quest and concept are quite intriguing.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Splendid concept ruined ...
As a lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy literature, I waited with bated breath to read a novel so grand in scope. Read more
Published on April 6 2004 by Keith
4.0 out of 5 stars Series starts off strong and ends very poorly
I just finished reading all 5 volumes in this series and had to offer a review.
Book 1 starts off tremendous (!! Read more
Published on Jan. 3 2004 by Profound Reviewer
4.0 out of 5 stars Man abides
Some really scathing reviews here and some quite unfair given that this novel was written 32 years ago. Film, theater, television and, yes, novels all age just as we do. Read more
Published on Aug. 6 2003 by Wayne Klein
4.0 out of 5 stars Astounding concept, inept execution
I read this back in 1979, and recently reread the series through "Magic Labyrinth." It was better the first time. Read more
Published on July 29 2003 by Mithradates
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but misunderstood
Reading the other reviews, as I usually do, I was horrified to find that no-one seemed to understand the Riverworld series. Read more
Published on May 20 2003 by Joe
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost but not quite
When Sir Richard died he thought that it was all she wrote. He could not have been more wrong, he had been resurrected on a giant river with most of the rest of humanity. Read more
Published on April 12 2003 by General Pete
3.0 out of 5 stars Great setup But no better than medoicre
This is one of those novels that the simple setup will keep you interested and on your toes long after the author drives the story into the ground. Read more
Published on Jan. 29 2003 by Dixon Whitley
3.0 out of 5 stars This book was ok
This is fairly run-of-the-mill old-style science fiction. There are two notable shortcomings: first, he doesn't make any attempt to resolve the main questions of the book (who... Read more
Published on Jan. 15 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Great concept, entertaining read
Explorer Richard Burton, along with every other human who has ever lived, is resurrected on the shores of an impossibly long river on an alien planet. Read more
Published on Jan. 11 2003 by David Bonesteel
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