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VINE VOICEon June 28, 2010
Riverworld, To Your Scattered Bodies Go, The Fabulous Riverboat, and all the other Riverworld stories are as good as it gets within the genre of fantasy. Imagine a world that is one long riverbank, along which live the entire population of Earth. All their needs are met leaving them with time on their hands to engage in any and all manner of pursuits, both good and evil. You are there among the crowd as are all your family, neighbors, and friends. Among those who play rolls in these books are Richard Francis Burton, Mark Twain, Herman Goering, King John Lackland, Motzart, Tom Mix, and many others. The possibilites for intrigue are endless. Reading this series you will be drawn in to their world to experience life anew. Don't miss out on an opportunity to live on Riverworld if only for the amount of time it takes to read all the books; you won't regret it. I have read the eitire series several times and never get tired of the story. I suspect that once you have read it once, you too will go back and re-read the story also. Were it possible to give Riverworld 10 stars, I'd do so without hesitation.
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on October 31, 2011
Riverworld is a planet covered by one long, long river, winding back and forth and up and down from pole to pole. Adjacent banks are separated by unscalable cliffs, necessitating travel by foot along the banks of The River, or by some kind of river craft. But there are rare exceptions.

If you were a human being who was more than five years old when you died, and if you lived and died any time beyond 99,000 B.C. up to and including 1983 A.D., you are resurrected along the banks of The River. If you lived and died beyond 1983, you will also be resurrected there, but you are not in this particular Riverworld saga. Famous persons who are in this saga are Mark Twain, Jack London, Hermann Goring, and Mozart. Less famous persons are numerous, including Sir Richard Francis Burton, Alice Liddell, Cyrano de Bergerac, and Tom Mix.

The story involves characters trying to discover who built Riverworld and why it was built. Mysteries arise, secrets are revealed, hardships and treacheries are endured. Eventually, after some twists and turns, everything comes to light.

Five novels are included in the four volumes of Tor's latest trade-paperback editions. The first volume, RIVERWORLD, contains the first two novels: TO YOUR SCATTERED BODIES GO and THE FABULOUS RIVERBOAT. These two are short, but they are agreeably paced and stick to the storyline. Increasingly as you progress through DARK DESIGN, THE MAGIC LABYRINTH, and GODS OF RIVERWORLD, more and more passages are slow. Depending on the reader, they are not necessarily bad, but neither are they necessary for the progression of the story. For example, we get mini biographies of some of the historical characters. Also, particularly in the last two books, characters think and talk about philosophical issues, like the human soul.

Despite the questionable material, Philip José Farmer's prose is very accessible. But I think it is unfair to include content like the questionable material, which many if not most readers neither expect nor want when they look for science fiction. Therefore, to caution you about this material, I lower my rating by one star.

If you can overlook the unorthodox content, go ahead and give the series five stars. The story is a classic, smartly contrived, putting you in touch with concepts that you will never forget.
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on November 5, 2010
Yes folks, the Riverworld series by Farmer is the best sci fi series ever written, by the best science fiction novelist ever. Now that sounds like a tall claim but is easily justified if you read the series and have a familiarity with other science fiction. Critics such as Fiedler have also labelled Farmer the best there ever was, but I have thought this ever since I first experienced " To Your Scattered Bodies Go" as a 17 year old. The concept itself is mind blowing ( all the people who ever lived on Earth resurrected on a new world by future advanced beings.) The science is plausible and shows what a genius Farmer is - he wrote this in the early 70's before gene technology and IVF etc even existed. The research he must have done is oustanding - all his characters are true historical figures- and then the way he makes them interact with each other is believable and compelling. But this is not just a science fiction series. It is a philosophical meditation on the human condition. You can see yourself in this book, and imagine how you would react if you had been resurrected on this world. The mystery of who created the Riverworld, and what the characters will find when they reach the mystical Tower will keep you feverishly reading on. Sci Fi novels that are just full of science concepts do not appeal to a large audience. But the Riverworld series is about people and how they interact. Furthermore, it is only when you read Philip Jose Farmer that you are exposed his real , no nonsense exploration of human psychology, warts and all, and the way he interweaves this with mind-blowing science fiction concepts is unique and a true joy to behold.
I have now read the entire series half a dozen times and I never get tired of this incredible journey.
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on October 5, 2010
Heaven, life after death, even Hell, are things that can drive us to endless distraction. Not surprisingly, they are also hot topics for science fiction writers. "Riverworld: Including To Your Scattered Bodies Go & The Fabulous Riverboat" is Philip Jose Farmer's classic, literary, and often brilliant attempt to deal with this question. In Farmer's vision humanity is resurrected on a world with a river that starts at the north pole, winds a long, circuitous route around the planet, and dumps back into the north pole. At the pole is also an island with a grand building that becomes the goal of the book's protagonists. They devise a variety of schemes to arrive there, all without the aid of modern industry or even any kind of economy. Farmer's vision of humanity is somewhat dark. The one theme that bothers me is the unrepentant evil that Farmer portrays as the defining feature of humanity and their newfound world. While it is not a "hell", per se, Farmer's vision of the afterlife is far more dystopian than utopian, unnecessarily so in many cases. Despite this, River World is a fascinating look at one possible afterlife and the consequences it creates.
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on June 29, 2016
While I laud the initial premise of Riverworld in "To Your Scattered Bodies Go," the second offering "The Fabulous Riverboat" bogged down quite a bit. Mark Twain's character was tedious at best, and I seriously doubt that in the years provided such an industrial revolution could have taken place--given the unbelievable diversity of the population. Additionally--with 34 billion people involved, how is it that "famous" people keep cropping up? The Law of Averages would be completely against such a happening.

Will I continue the series to see if they accomplish the discovery of the headwaters? Doubtful.
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on September 2, 2014
Loved it, gets a little long winded in philosophy, death, and, the Ka. Do think that farmer missed the point between Prince John and Sam at the end. So Sam knew that Prince John would steal the boat and Sam let him do anyway by not killing John. Now Sam is so angry that he wants to kill John, a bit too late on recognizing this point for me.
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on July 3, 2012
This is an awesome book which was brought to my attention via the Nerdy Show Book Club hosted by the members of the Nerdy Show Podcast. I've never heard of this author or the Riverworld Saga before and I have to say that it was a great read. I'm already working on the second of the books in the series.

The story here is absolutely awesome and delved into a realm of sci-fi that I'd never really ventured into before. The story follows the exploits of Sir Richard Francis Burton after his and millions of other humans resurrection into the "Riverworld". Burton mysteriously finds himself naked and hairless amongst many other humans from various locations on Earth. Individuals from all throughout time and geographic location have mysteriously been placed next to a massive river, naked as the day they were born with nothing more than an empty metal container.

Being the explorer that he is Burton immediately sets himself to exploring his new world and trying to find the meaning behind his sudden resurrection. The further he digs in his efforts to discover the true purpose of what has happened to closer he gets to the dark truth surrounding the events.
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on March 21, 2013
I got interested in this book when I watched a DVD called "Riverworld". It had an intriguing premise but unfortunately, the description on the netflix site was very incorrect, the actors stunk, the dialogue was silly, and the only thing that impressed me was the amazing CGI work. The idea is that people from all throughout time end up in this "world" (I don't know yet if it's another world or existence or what....) arriving at the same ages (about 30), naked and from all different worlds. There's Samuel (Mark Twain), and Nero, and others, but not others mentioned in the Netflix description. So, I looked up the original book and realized how much they had changed the plot in the movie. UCK! Skip the movie, and read the books. I can't wait to finish this (first two books) and read the next four.
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on December 12, 2013
Riverworld is one of the classic novel series in the pantheon of Sci-Fi that every true addict must read and re-read at least once every ten years or so. While I admit that Farmer is not one of my favorite authors generally, this series proves he is one of the the greats.

If you don't have this set of novels in your library or on your Kindle, then I advise you to buy these 2 books. The price is cheaper than you could buy them in a used book store, assumingf you can even find them in good condition.
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on September 8, 2014
I'm a big fan of Farmer's Riverworld series, and have read them now a couple of times. The premise is highly original, the writing is good, and the plot moves along well. Don't judge the books by what passed for their serialization on TV, the books are much better and more inventive.

I consider this first book in the series to be a landmark scifi book - it was a Hugo award winner for the best scifi novel. If you like this book, then you will probably like all of the series. But the books are somewhat uneven. This first book is great, the second book (The Fabulous Riverboat) is reasonable, the third book (The Magic Labyrinth) drags, and I quite liked the fourth book (The Gods of Riverworld).

These books are now 30-40 years old, but they have aged well and I don't find them outdated. The characters are diverse and the main characters are well drawn. If this seems like old hat to some, it's because Farmer's books have been an inspiration to a generation of scifi writer.

It is hard for me to believe that a really good TV series hasn't been based on these books. What the SyFy channel put out was nearly worthless. Since they hold the rights, I can't really expect much better. But I do wonder what would be possible if someone like Peter Jackson ever got a hold of these books to turn them into movies. They are totally worth that kind of treatment.

This first book carries my highest recommendation to you.
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