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The Fabulous Riverboat (Riverworld Saga, Book 2) Paperback – July 28, 1998

3.5 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip José Farmer introduces readers to the awesome Riverworld, a planet that had been carved into one large river on whose shores all of humanity throughout the ages has seemingly been resurrected. In The Fabulous Riverboat, Farmer tells the tale of one person whose is uniquely suited to find the river's headwaters, riverboat captain and famous Earthly author Sam Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain). Clemens has been visited by "X," a mysterious being who claims to be a rebel among the group that created Riverworld. X tells Clemens where he can find a large deposit of iron and other materials that Clemens can use to build the greatest riverboat ever seen. Since there is virtually no metal on the planet, it will also give Clemens an unbeatable edge when it comes to battling the various warlike societies that dominate the Riverworld.

But Clemens is not alone in his quest for the iron, which arrives on the planet in the form of a giant meteorite. In fact, Clemens is besieged on all sides by forces determined to seize the precious ore, leading him to make a deadly pact with one of history's most notorious villains, John Lackland. Lackland's crimes during his reign as king of England were so hideous that no other English monarch will ever carry his name, and he's up to equally nefarious tricks on Riverworld. However, Clemens has a guardian angel in the form of Joe Miller, a giant subhuman with a big nose, a serious lisp, and a cutting wit. Miller has also been to the very headwaters of the river, where he saw a mysterious tower in the middle of the North Sea and where the creators of Riverworld are thought to reside. He will be an invaluable ally in completing the riverboat and sailing to the headwaters, but even an 800-pound giant may not be enough to help Clemens fulfill X's mission. --Craig E. Engler

From the Inside Flap

Resurrected on the lush, mysterious banks of Riverworld, along with the rest of humanity, Samuel Langhorne Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) has a dream: to build a riverboat that will rival the most magnificent paddle-wheelers ever navigated on the mighty Mississippi. Then, to steer it up the endless waterway that dominates his new home planet--and at last discover its hidden source.

But before he can carry out his plan, he first must undertake a dangerous voyage to unearth a fallen meteor. This mission would require striking an uneasy alliance with the bloodthirsty Viking Erik Bloodaxe, treacherous King John of England, legendary French swordsman Cyrano de Bergerac, Greek adventurer Odysseus, and the infamous Nazi Hermann Göring. All for the purpose of storming the ominous stone tower at the mouth of the river, where the all-powerful overseers of Riverworld--and their secrets--lie in wait . . .
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Product Details

  • Series: Riverworld Saga (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; 1st Ballantine Books ed edition (July 28, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345419685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345419682
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #872,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Philip José Farmer (1918-2009) is a three-time Hugo Award winner, and Nebula Grand Master. He has long been recognized as one of the foremost writers in the fields of science fiction and fantasy. He is best known for being the author who introduced sex into science fiction in 1952 with his groundbreaking novella "The Lovers"; his biographies of Tarzan and Doc Savage; his love of pulp characters; his Riverworld, World of Tiers, and Dayworld series; and his Wold Newton Family concept.

Visit www.pjfarmer.com to keep up on all the latest news about Philip José Farmer.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
This is Farmer's second offering in his outstanding Riverworld series, five books that must be read together in sequence for the whole story. He continues to develop this fabulous world of a millions mile long river, snaking around and around a planet, hemmed in on each side by unscaleable mountains which force all to live in the river valley. Into this artificially formed world, all humanity who ever lived and died has been resurrected, with no clue as to the how or why, or by whom. The books in the series tell the stories of those who are driven to find answers to those mysteries.
In 'The Fabulous Riverboat', Farmer leaves for a while the quest of his protagonist from the first book, Sir Richard Burton, and focuses on another fascinating 19th century personality - Samuel Clemens, AKA Mark Twain. Clemens is driven by a dream of finding iron on this mineral-poor planet from which he can build a riverboat such as he piloted on Earth, to take him to the headwaters of the river where emerging clues seem to indicate answers can be found to this confounding after-life. The Clemens we meet here is bitter, angry, and filled with guilt, and his ultimate motivation is to find those responsible for the mass resurrection of humanity, and to strike whatever blow he can against them in retaliation for bringing him back from the peace of the grave. With the help of a powerful "Mysterious Stranger", who may be a renegade member of the race responsible for this resurrection and Riverworld, Clemens is able to find the minerals he needs, and to form a colony dedicated to the project of building his fabulous riverboat.
Complications abound, however.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I want a sequential order to the River Stories as they are so totally fascinating. I've read all the books and enjoyed them all, but I want somebody to tell me the proper reading order. Is that too much to ask? I realize that different authors make this nearly impossible, but it would be very nice. Liked the read.
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Format: Paperback
To Your Scattered Bodies Go, the first of Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld novels, was a fast-paced, highly creative, and extremely exciting story, so I was eager to continue the tale in the second novel, The Fabulous Riverboat. This part of the story of mankind's resurrection onto a million-miles-long stretch of river valley focuses on Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) -- one of the people who've been contacted by a traitor who hopes to use twelve special humans to disrupt the plans of the creatures (gods? aliens?) who are responsible for the Resurrection.

At the beginning of The Fabulous Riverboat, we meet Sam Clemens and his 800 lb Neanderthal bodyguard named Joe Miller. (Note: I highly recommend Recorded Books' audiobook version narrated by Paul Hecht. Joe Miller's lisping speech is difficult to read in print, but Mr. Hecht is brilliant with him.) Sam Clemens and Joe Miller are on a Viking ship that is searching for iron-rich meteors (the Riverworld has very few mineral deposits). The Vikings want the iron for weapons, but Sam wants to build a huge steamboat so he can sail up the river to its source and confront the beings who run the planet.

Sam gets some help from the mysterious traitor who tells him where to find required materials, but then he must work with tyrannical humans who want to hoard their countries' natural resources or promote their political or religious agendas. Thus, there's a lot more threatening, squabbling, political maneuvering, dealing, double-dealing, and war going on than actual ship-building.

It's fun to meet real historical tyrants in Riverworld -- they tend to rise to the top and become the leaders of aggressive city-states. It's also amusing to watch the interactions of humans from such a wide range of time periods.
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