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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on August 17, 2003
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.
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on June 27, 2002
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.
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on February 11, 2001
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.
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on April 29, 2003
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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on June 15, 2004
not much more to say. It's pulp, but good enjoyable stuff.
Books 1 and 2 are vastly superior because, not despite this. Their origins in the serial magazine world show and are delightful.
Books 3,4,5 suffer because PJF tends to believe he is a far far better writer than he is, and overwrite if not severely edited
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