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5.0 out of 5 stars Resurrection time!
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...
Published on June 26 2004 by Maximiliano F Yofre

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3.0 out of 5 stars Great idea, okay execution
Farmer's Riverworld saga takes place on a planet where all of humankind has been resurrected simultaneously. Everyone is in the prime of life, no one can reproduce, and people who die are resurrected on some random place on the planet. The planet is divided into sections by a planet-long (and -wide) river and impassable cliffs. Each subdivisions is populated with a...
Published on Aug. 2 2001 by Craig MACKINNON


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5.0 out of 5 stars Certainly close to a classic, Nov. 28 2001
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This review is from: To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Paperback)
Something you have a book that has such an amazing concept that the entire book can be carried on just that one concept, regardless of how stirring the plot is or how deep the characters are or how exciting the prose is. With the concept that Farmer introduces in this novel he sure comes darn close but he really needed just a little extra to boost this novel into "true classic" status. What's the concept? Basically every human that has ever lived wakes up alongside a seemingly endless river on some strange planet for no apparent reason to basically do what people do. Food and even clothing is provided for, but really it's just a big question mark. Enter famous explorer Richard Burton who very quickly decides that he must penetrate the center of this mystery and try to find exactly what this is all about. Along the way he meets bunches of people from different times, some famous some not, gets involved in a series of adventures and sort of figures it out. But not quite. Burton is probably the best character in the book in the sense that he's supposed to the hero and yet there's quite a few reasons not to like him (he's a bit racist and a tad sexist, among other things . . .) which is good because being a historical character it shows Farmer was at least doing some research. The other characters don't make out so well and being that most of them seem to drop out halfway through the book, you really don't miss them since the focus really is squarely on Burton (the alien in particular seems to have just been included because he could make important revelations and thus it would make sense because he's an advanced alien and thus knows everything . . . not explained why he was resurrected though . . . also Peter Frigate mostly cries unless he needs to fight and then he kills with reckless abandon, er, mood swing anyone?) and as long as it stays there you can overlook things like that. Farmer has great fun with the concept and frustratingly gives us just a taste of the Riverworld, bypassing entire communities in a sentence that he could have spent a whole chapter on. The plot moves swiftly, with the usual absurd coincidences that only occur to you after you stop reading because he keeps the story moving so fast there's no time to think, which is good. Sometimes it's a mite too swiftly, subplots start but don't go anywhere (there's hints of romance that never turns into anything) and imminent revelations either are ignored or turn out to be nothing special. But the book is way too short and the ending is basically just a "To Be Continued" that reveals a bunch of stuff that may or may not be true. In the end it feels like the world's longest prologue and while enormously entertaining as such, doesn't leave you with a whole lot to take away from the book. Still the concept is one of the greatest in SF and just watching Farmer pull it off and lay down the foundation for the rest of the series is great fun. But his inability to really turn the book into a standalone epic on its own keeps the book from achieving truly classic status. But, like I said, it's worth a read simply for the concept itself.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Hype, Plot, and Nothing Else to It!, Oct. 24 2001
This review is from: To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Paperback)
To be honest, the writing style of this book is enough to make any seasoned reader wince with frustration. Simply put: it is pitiful.
The characters are so cardboard that they are not even two-dimensional characters; they are one-dimensional. They are clearly acting out of the author's motives, and have no motives of their own. One can literally see the clunky mechanics behind them, it is quite sad. They have sudden bursts of wisdom and understanding that they could not possibly have, and there is so much data-dumping that often one gets the feel of reading an encyclopedia entry. They also see to be speaking with the same voice: that would be the author's voice.
Another thing was the way he handled descriptions. He simply gave off exact details in absolutely no order. One of the most importiant things in description is putting the details in an order (e.g. up to down, left to right, near to far) that is accessible to the reader. Farmer ignored this primary rule, and as a result it came out as unsortable. It is alright to break the rules, but one has to know how to break them. In his inept hands, the writing of the book is garbage, and he only embarrases himself and falls flat upon his face in mud. He was also far to exact to leave any room whatsoever to the imagination of the reader. Do I really care that the guy's nose was exactly three and half centimetres long or that the objects were spaced five and a quartet inches apart? I often had the impression that the characters carried measuring sticks about with them. Another thing was that he switched from the Metric System to the American Measuring System. That is called inconsistency.
There is also rampant sexism. When Burton said that he did not care much for woman's brains, I nearly threw the book across the room, but lucky for the book it did not belong to me. Besides, in a society where there was no pregnancy, the whole male-domination thing would not have happened. For some reason, Farmer seems to think that women were only there for one function and I will leave it at that. Anyone with any sence would be appaled by this [...junk] just as I was. It is due to people like him with attitudes like that, that women had to endure thousands of years of riddicue and suffering. It was simply unacceptable to find views such of his in a book in this modern, civilized age.
The only things that kept me reading to the end was that it was quite short for a novel, and the plot was original enough that I just wanted to see what it developed to in the end. And in the end there was no reward for my time enduring his ill-wrought pose, and I do not feel like investing more time to read another volume.
Trust me, you do not want to repeat my mistake and waste your time on this book too. Had I the option, this would have received negative stars. This was hands-down the single worst book that I have read, and the worst book that could ever be produced, ever.
And one last question: How in the name of goodness did this ever manage to get published? It is so maddening that this can be published, when there are far better authors out there slaving away who do not receive any recognition. Where were the editors? Asleep? Hypnotized? It is sad that such a book ever won any awards- but hey, if this is the cream of the crop, I hate to even imagine how bad the terrible books are.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Summary: Book 1 = Good. Series = Bad. VERY Bad., Oct. 17 2001
By 
Christian M Yungbluth (Matthews, NC United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Paperback)
You already know the premise: Humanity reincarnated on the shores of a river 20 million miles long. Unique spin on life-after-death, and the first book (To Your Scattered Bodies Go) is good enough to make you want to read more. The snippets of 'something bigger' looms large throughout the series and much of the good writing and story telling carries through into the second book (The Fabulous Riverboat). There is, of course, a requisite amount of 'cheese' that you must eat, but not so much that you get a stomachache.
If you make it through book 2, STOP THERE! If you continue on this little 'adventure' you are destined for a profound disappointment, as the story is seemingly more compelling, but descends into an ever-increasing series of convenient coincidences, plot shortcuts, and a finale that is ultimately such a hack job that I wish I could slap the author (Philip Jose Farmer) and sue him for false advertising.
Book 3 and 4 ('The Dark Design' and 'The Magic Labyrinth' respectively) are an abomination! Never mind the gratuitous follow-up 'The Gods of Riverworld', which convinced me that, at some point in the writing of this series, Farmer decided to start smoking crack. I can only say that he completely destroyed the compelling fantasy that he began as surely as if he'd thrown it into a blender and hit 'puree'. Save your time and money...please.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Promises much, but never delivers, Oct. 17 2001
This review is from: To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Paperback)
To be honest, the writing style of this book is enough to make a seasoned reader frustrated. Simply put, it is pitiful. The characters are so carbord that they are not even two-dimensional characters; they are one-dimensional. They are clearly acting out of the author's motives, and have no motives of their own. One can literally see the clunkly machanics behind them, it is quite sad. They have sudden bursts of wisdom and understanding that they could not possibly have, and there is so much data-dumping that often one gets the feel of reading an encyclopedia entry. They also see to be speaking with the same voice: that was the author's voice. Not to mention the rampant sexism. When Burton said that he did not care much for woman's brains, I nearly threw the book accross the room, but lucky for the book, it did not belong to me. Besides, in a society where there was no pregnany, the whole male-domination thing would not have happened. It was disgusting. The only things that kept me reading to the end was that it was short, and the plot was intresting enough that I just wanted to see what it developed to in the end. And the payoff for my hard hours of enduring his baddly-wroght prose? None! There are more questions than answers, and I do not feel like investing more time to read another volume. Trust me, you do not want to waste your time and hard-earned money on this book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Great idea, okay execution, Aug. 2 2001
By 
Craig MACKINNON (Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Paperback)
Farmer's Riverworld saga takes place on a planet where all of humankind has been resurrected simultaneously. Everyone is in the prime of life, no one can reproduce, and people who die are resurrected on some random place on the planet. The planet is divided into sections by a planet-long (and -wide) river and impassable cliffs. Each subdivisions is populated with a large percentage of people from a given geographical area and historical era (e.g., a group from Nazi Germany, a group of ancient Sumerians, a tribe of Seneca Indians). The main character in this installment is Richard Burton, a real-life explorer and adventurer. He sets out to travel the river and try to find its source, where he hopes to find out who or what has caused the resurrection and why. Along the way, he meets up with a number of people from different eras and cultures, most notably Hermann Goering, Reichsmarshall of the Nazi Luftwaffe.
The underlying theme of the book is a great idea - the possibility to write about any person in history. The clash of cultures, political ideals, etc. could be endlessly investigated. Unfortunately, in this first book, the pace is breathtaking - Burton travels through and past literally hundreds of little enclaves, with barely a passing glance. I was left feeling a little frustrated that the book refused to slow down and consider any details about the various societies he encounters. So, while I enjoyed the setup, the payoff was lacking.
It's entirely possible that the author purposefully wrote the book with a broad, undetailed stroke of the pen. Perhaps the other books in the series are meant to linger and consider the details of this world. Unfortunately, this book does not make me wish to rush out and immediately purchase the subsequent books in the series. I'm intrigued, but not hooked.
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4.0 out of 5 stars After-life; still a mystery, May 14 2001
By 
Pam Riesen (Tiffin, OH USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Paperback)
To Your Scattered Bodies Go was a very riveting and mysterious novel to read. The novel examines the aspects of being resurrected after life on Earth has expired. The story is based around Sir Richard Burton, a 19th century English explorer. Burton is awakened, from his last breath of life on Earth, to be surrounded by swirling bodies floating upon rods which are capable of being broken. After free falling from the rod, Burton is disturbed when he awakes upon a planet which is occupied by people from every time era that have ever lived on Earth. The people of the planet are given all of life's neccesities, however the reason for their being is still uncertain. Burton befriends a prehuman, an alien, another American and several others who set out on an endless journey along the million mile long river to find the answer to that question. Burton, himself, becomes frusterated when he is given chance after chance to redeem his life, yet does not know how to do that. The novel shows that during each resurrection, people are given the chance to correct the mistakes they had made in their past lives and it allows them to judge themselves before they are eternally judged in the after-life. Burton had trouble realizing his past mistakes and became prematurely judged. I thought the novel was very descriptive, and easy to read. Philip Jose Farmer did an excellent job of keeping the reader entertained. From reading the novel I am now interested in reading the other novels in his series to find out what happens after the end of To Your Scattered Bodies Go.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Start of a memorable series, Feb. 9 2001
By 
M. Broderick "mikebinok" (Oklahoma City, OK USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Paperback)
I just re-read this book for the first time in (literally) twenty-five years. Some of my favored books from those "old days" don't hold up well. But this one does! Farmer came up with a awe-inspiring setting that gives him access to literally every human who ever lived, as well as some non-human characters, and the ability to shift settings quickly and dramatically. The hero of this book is Sir Richard Burton, the 19th Century British explorer and adventurer. After Burton breathes his last on Earth, he finds himself (after a puzzling interlude or two) reborn on another planet among everyone who ever lived on earth. All their basic needs are provided for, and in this new world, even further death is not permanent; since humanity is freed from the need to struggle for life, it's necessities, or even for many of its pleasures, there is time for something else. The focus of the series is on how different people used this unique opportunity. Burton uses it to try to uncover the motivations behind the beings responsible for the resurrection. Fortunately for him, he has a secret ally among the resurrectors. The book is interesting, very readable, and not terribly deep. I enjoyed it, and am going to re-read the whole series. You'll learn a lot about Burton in the book, but it did not inspire in me (originally or now) the fascination it appears to have inspired in some other reviewers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest Book I've read in 15 years!, Dec 6 2000
This review is from: To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Paperback)
First of all, I'm only 15. Now then, "To Your Scattered Bodies Go" may not be a gramatically correct title (making it hard, in my oppinion to give it a chance in the first place), but it is still the greatest book I've ever read! It starts with the main characters death THE END... actually death is the beginning and the foundation for this book. I like how PJF showed all of the characters going through revelations as a result of their second chance at life... and then their third and fourth and so on... I also like the idea that everyone in creation is in this book, including the readers, if they can find the right ethnic group. One thing that I like in books, as well is being left in the dark at first and being able to read the solutions later. I recomend this book to anyone who likes History, boats, Sci-Fi's, WW2, and about anything else for that matter! It's just plane good! However, I have heard very bad reviews on his later books, except for that annoying person who gives the book a full 5 and thanking Amazon for the convenience of finding books online. Still, I am very tempted to see what Sir Richard Burton does on his voyage. Probably chew dreamgum... Alice in Wonderland is in this book, and it gives a new perspective to her...
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4.0 out of 5 stars great revelation here is Burton, Nov. 25 2000
By 
Orrin C. Judd "brothersjudddotcom" (Hanover, NH USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Paperback)
If forced to choose the single factor (other than crippling lack of ambition) that lead to my posting a 2.42 my Freshman fall of college, this book would be the culprit I'd point to. You see, I made the mistake of reading this book just before finals & immediately followed it up by reading everything about or by Sir Richard Francis Burton that I could find.
The central conceit of Farmer's Hugo Award Winner is that everyone who ever lived on Earth is resurrected along the banks of a river on a mysterious world. One of the first people to understand their predicament and take action is the linguist, explorer, translator Sir Richard Francis Burton. Along with Alice Hargreaves (of Alice in Wonderland fame), a Neanderthal named Kazz , an alien from Tau Centauri named Monat Grrautut (who precipitated the Apocalypse that destroyed Earth in 2008) and others found along the way, Burton sets off upriver to try to figure out why they've been brought to this place. But when they figure out that The River may be 20 million miles long and then they are captured by Herman Goring and a band of Ancient Romans, things get even more complicated.
Farmer has a wonderful idea here & he plays it to the hilt, dropping in interesting historical characters & playing off cultures and ethnicity's against each other. I especially like the way he's taken his characters to the promised afterlife & instead of finding answers to the question of existence, they find that it's just as confounding as life on Earth.
But the great revelation here is Burton. If you've never heard of him, you'll want to read more & if you're familiar with him, you'll want to read about him anew.
GRADE: B
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3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating premisse doesn't reach it's conclusion, May 11 2000
This review is from: To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Paperback)
The premisse of this book is fascinating: what if after you die there is nothing. No heaven (or hell, for that matter) no reincarnation. Just nothing. Until someone develops the technology, and the will, to bring back everyone who has ever died on this planet. Bring them back with no possesions, no tools, no clothes, no infrastructure, and not a clue. Just billions and billions of naked confused, semi-immortal, multi-cultural human beings. What will they do? What is the meaning of all this?
The actions these resurrected peoples take are very well written and highly believable (unfortunately). The motives of the people who are responsible for all this are the mystery we are trying to solve.
Farmer received the 1972 Hugo Award for this book that did survive the test of time, and is still a good read now. Then why not 5 stars? --- This book is not a well rounded whole, with a plot that comes to a resounding conclusion. At 3 quaters of the book the pace changes, slowes down. The answer is pushed further to the future, and it soon becomes clear a further quest will be nessessary, even though the book ends. I suppose you'll (and I'll) have to read the rest of what now turns out to be a series to reach the fullfillment of a filosofical conclusion. That's why I feel a bit cheated.
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To Your Scattered Bodies Go
To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose Farmer (Paperback - June 30 1998)
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