The Dark Design Paperback – Jul 28 1998
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The Dark Design is the third book in the epic Riverworld saga, in which almost all of humanity has been resurrected on a strange planet along the shores of a river 22 million miles long. But why have humans been given another chance at life, and who is behind it all? That's what Sir Richard Francis Burton and Sam Clemens set out to discover in two earlier novels, one by riding the "suicide express" (if you die on Riverworld, you're resurrected again at a random point along the river) and the other steaming on the greatest riverboat ever seen. Now Milton Firebrass, Clemens's former enemy and now his No. 1 lieutenant, is planning to use the dwindling iron supply on the Riverworld to create a great airship, which can fly to the North Polar Sea far more quickly than any boat can travel. There he hopes to learn the secret of the mysterious tower thought to house the beings who created this planet.
Jill Gulbirra does not care as much about the mission as she wants the chance to captain the great airship, which in all likelihood will be the last airship ever constructed by humankind. But in landing the coveted role, she faces stiff competition--especially from the greatest swordsman of all time, Cyrano de Bergerac, who turns out to be a natural pilot. But even if Jill can win the command of the airship and even if the ship can reach the river's headwaters, there is no guarantee it can get through the mountain wall that surrounds the tower. And it's likely that one or more agents of the Ethicals--the creators of Riverworld--are on board the airship, plotting its downfall. Worse still, somewhere along the way the airship is sure to encounter the Rex Grandissimus, the steamboat stolen by Sam's archnemesis, King John Lackland. --Craig E. Engler
“Farmer's blend of intellectual daring and pulp fiction prose found a worldwide audience. Sprawling, episodic works gave him room to explore the nuances of a provocative premise while indulging his taste for lurid, violent action.” ―The New York Times
“The greatest science fiction writer ever.” ―Leslie A. Fiedler, author of Love and Death in the American Novel
“An excellent science fiction writer, far more skillful than I am.” ―Isaac Asimov--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition. See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
There's not much plot advancement in terms of the overall series, but what we DO have is an overall look at the Riverworld, Farmer's greatest creation. Think about it: you've been resurrected on a world where all your physical needs are taken care of, but there are almost no metal resources and the nearest answers are millions of miles of sailing away. What would everyday life be like in such a place? What would become of humanity? And what kind of person would seek those answers? This is why the various characterizations in the book fascinate me -- with dozens of characters in the book (and billions on the Riverworld), it's easy to forget what's so fascinating about the premise of Riverworld: every single inhabitant has at least one full lifetime behind them. (And to those who disagree, you at least have to admit that the Welsh poetry thesis defense story is priceless. :o) To those who complain that nothing interesting happens, I say that PLENTY of interesting things happen -- they simply happen to be subtle.
I'll admit to being biased -- I like subtlety and characterization in my novels. If you are a purely casual/surface level reader, or are simply impatient to see how things turn out, then you can safely skip this book and pick up "The Magic Labyrinth." You can pick up most of what plot development you missed, and you can always come back to this one later. But if you're patient, thoughtful, and want to find the real Riverworld, then this book is a must-read. ~DH
The main character for a lot of the book though not all is a woman named Jill Guilbirra. She is an ex-dirigible pilot. The main plot of this story is that after Clemens leaves the town where the metal ore is, (there is still some left after he built his boat.) the people left there decide to build a Dirigible to get to the headwaters of the river which would be much faster.
As noted by other reviewers this novel is the first time the Author doesn't stay focused on one person the whole time. Even though Jill is for the most part the main character towards the middle and end the book skips to the viewpoint of others, this in itself isn't bad. After awhile the story becomes split up pretty evenly between Jill, Burton, and Clemens. This is nice because Jill is especially irritating with her whiny feminism that could only be an enjoyable read to a like-minded feminist. But it's nice to see Burton again and it's interesting to see how Clemens is doing.
The plot itself is pretty boring. The Author states in the preface that "The Dark Design" and the following book "The Magic Labyrinth" were meant to be one book, but it was too long so he split it up into two. Well it shows because "The Dark Design" is where everything interesting is being set up to happen, or waiting to happen and "The Magic Labyrinth" is where everything interesting finally happens.
Another folly of "The Dark Design" is that as stated in many other reviews there start to appear some discrepancies in the story line. The example of the height of the cliffs in the valleys has been used. The author accounts for the change as a matter of false perception on the part of people. Of course these little slips aren't anything compared to the ridiculous ones in the next two books.Read more ›
1. The author constantly provides both metric and English equivalents when numbers are called for. For example, he mentions the height of a character as "6 feet or 1.8 meters in height." He does this for distances as well--and does it so frequently that one can only imagine that he had a calculator next to his typewriter. Is he trying to teach us the metric system or revive the English system (depending on your point of view)?
2. The irritations continue with colorless biographical data on the characters from history that serves no useful part to creating interest in those characters. While the trick of using characters from history is an interesting technique to provide some connection between our real lives and fiction, and one that helps us get over the hesitation to jump into something totally alien to our experiences, this technique should have been used less once the story line got developed. The focus should have been on the story line and things that would have engaged our emotional interests.
3. For me, the poor continuity, the pulp infusion of dream sequences, and the waiting for action were but three reasons I decided to come to Amazon.com to look at the reviews of the last two books. I sighed on reading the third book would not be improved on by the last two books....
Most recent customer reviews
Great product, delivery on time, excellent service and price. Couldn't be more happier. Everything was in order. Thanks for everything! Concerning the book, it's P.J. Read morePublished on Jan. 26 2013 by Luc Durocher
The part 3 of the Riverwold series. It's nowhere near as good as either of the first 2 books of the series were (To Your Scattered Bodies Go & The Fabulous Riverboat). Read morePublished on June 18 2004 by D Capley
severe and brutal editing would have greatly improved flow and quality. Frankly the Frigate character should have been left out of books 3 and 4- reducing page count,... Read morePublished on June 15 2004
The Riverworld saga continues as various characters attempt the journey to the mysterious tower at the source of the river on whose shores all of humanity has been resurrected. Read morePublished on Feb. 7 2004 by David Bonesteel
The prose is remarkably bad -- remarkably because the first two volumes in this series, while not likely to win an award for style, were written in a solid, brisk and workmanlike... Read morePublished on Aug. 22 2003
I first read the Riverworld series more than 20 years ago, and have just now completed a second reading. Read morePublished on July 30 2003 by Mithradates
This book was great in the beginning then it just lagged on in the end. I like the part where there was this girl they introduced. She was gay so it was neat but shocking. Read morePublished on July 3 2003 by XanthNovels
Unlike most readers of his novel, I came across The Dark Design by accident. I had no idea about who Philip Farmer was, and had never read any of the other Riverworld books. Read morePublished on March 16 2003 by S. Flower
I just finished reading The Dark Design. What a chore. I kept hoping for something like the first book in the series, To Your Scattered Bodies Go, but no luck. Read morePublished on Oct. 26 2001