4.0 out of 5 stars Take a trip on the neverending river...
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...
Published on Aug. 17 2003 by Wayne Klein
2.0 out of 5 stars Story ruined by distasteful, unsuccessful social commentary
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...
Published on Jan. 24 2004 by David Bonesteel
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2.0 out of 5 stars Story ruined by distasteful, unsuccessful social commentary,
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.
4.0 out of 5 stars Take a trip on the neverending river...,
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.
A couple of points--1) Keep in mind that this was written in the late 60's and published as a novel in 1971. It's of its era but the writing and themes have aged surprisingly well. 2) Although it wasn't designed with adolescent males in mind necessarily, that was the primary audience for the original piece. The attitudes and writing style occasionally demonstrates these elements.
Regardless, this is a fun series and still highly regarded for a number of good reasons. Farmer's novels and his ability with female characters would improve with later installments. By the time of the third volume The Dark Design, most of the flaws that dogged the first two installments had been overcome. The Riverworld series is still a well written series. While the series lost much of its power by the fifth and final book, there were still enough ideas floating around in one book that a lesser novelist would have made into 10 or 20 novels. In the series driven novels that have overtaken the science fiction genre, Farmer's novels, like Frank Herbert's, were written out of a love for the material not out of commerce. This attitude prevails even in the lesser books of this interesting and engaging series.
My only complaint with the latest editions are no comments or observations by Farmer 30 years after their initial publication. When these were first published (in 1998) Farmer was still going strong and working on a number of new novels and projects. On a side note it's a pity that the Science Fiction Channel ruined the first adaption of Farmer's novels. Riverworld was a mess where Burton was replaced by a 21st Century astronaut (obviously those teenagers wouldn't be able to relate to someone as obscure as Sir Richard Francis Burton!). It was a horror unlike the adaption of Herbert's first three novels.
4.0 out of 5 stars Still quite good...,
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating instalment to the series,
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.
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). The book focuses on how Clemens tries to find out the secret of Riverworld by building a magnificent steamboat that will carry him to the tower located at the end of the River. This book is about the efforts to build the steamboat, not about the journey. There is a lot of political intrigue in the book, as Twain has to cooperate with others, including unsavory types like the former King John of England. The book held my interest, and I read it almost in one sitting. Since Farmer has literally everyone in human history to draw from, there are lots of interesting characters, and Farmer writes the story competently. I recommend the book, but it would probably best to read TO YOUR SCATTERED BODIES GO first.
2.0 out of 5 stars THITH WATH THO DITHRACTING....,
By A Customer
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 chapters to figure out what the heck he was saying. Mushmouth is cute with Sylvethter the cat, but a whole books worth! Give me a break! I kept hoping this character would die. In general terms the story was good, but it could have had a little faster pace. It in no way compares to the first book of the series - I could not put it down. This one took me 3 wks. to read due to lack of interest. I think I will avoid the rest of the series and use MY imagination instead to develop Riverworld and all of its dynamics.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant,
By A Customer
Book 2 of the fantastic Riverworld series. Read in order. A world of resurrection where every soul who ever lived is brought back to indefinite life - where death is but a temporary inconvenience. Among the billions clawing through warfare, slavery and violent aggression is Samuel Clemens, alias Mark Twain. Sam's dream is to build a Mississippi style riverboat and travel to the source of the River (Riverworld's artery). Even with the aid of one of the mysterious beings responsible for Riverworld and his neanderthal blood brother he is hard put to bring his dream to life.There are others, King John for example who will stop at nothing to get the Fabulous Riverboat.
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as compelling as _To Your Scattered Bodies Go_,
In the second book of the Riverworld series, Sam Clemens aka Mark Twain has a single dream: build a majestic Riverboat to sail to the headwaters of the mighty river and find the ones responsible for Resurrection. Although the story is first rate, I found the pacing mediocre. Clemens is given a revelation from a "Mysterious Stranger" at the very beginning of the book, and nothing more is forthcoming; I found that this early climax robbed the rest of the book of some of its punch. Also, toward the end, there are two major time-shifts which are totally out of place. But the rest is quite enjoyable.
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and distracting,
By A Customer
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 presented in this, his second installment. JPF managed to make Mark Twain rather boring, and robbed the River World of all it's interesting features by abandoning subsistance living and introducing airplanes and firearms. Like the river it takes its name from, the river world series unerringly goes downhill...
Definitely read 'To your scattered bodies go', but avoid this (and the rest of the series) like the plague.
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.
For the most part I was very wrong. The action is fast paced and the ending(although not wholly surpising) was well done. I espically liked the ingenuity the "Riverworlders" displayed at every turn. My favorite part was where they used the fat in the bodies of the dead to make parts for explosives. This didn't hurt anyone because the next day they would be resurrected along another strech of river.
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The Fabulous Riverboat by Philip Jose Farmer (Mass Market Paperback - Jan. 1986)
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