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To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Riverworld Saga, Book 1) Paperback – June 30, 1998

4.0 out of 5 stars 114 customer reviews

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To Your Scattered Bodies Go is the Hugo Award-winning beginning to the story of Riverworld, Philip José Farmer's unequaled tale about life after death. When famous adventurer Sir Richard Francis Burton dies, the last thing he expects to do is awaken naked on a foreign planet along the shores of a seemingly endless river. But that's where Burton and billions of other humans (plus a few nonhumans) find themselves as the epic Riverworld saga begins. It seems that all of Earthly humanity has been resurrected on the planet, each with an indestructible container that provides three meals a day, cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, a lighter, and the odd tube of lipstick. But why? And by whom?

That's what Burton and a handful of fellow adventurers are determined to discover as they construct a boat and set out in search of the river's source, thought to be millions of miles away. Although there are many hardships during the journey--including an encounter with the infamous Hermann Goring--Burton's resolve to complete his quest is strengthened by a visit from the Mysterious Stranger, a being who claims to be a renegade within the very group that created the Riverworld. The stranger tells Burton that he must make it to the river's headwaters, along with a dozen others the Stranger has selected, to help stop an evil experiment at the end of which humanity will simply be allowed to die. --Craig E. Engler

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All those who ever lived on Earth have found themselves resurrected--healthy, young, and naked as newborns--on the grassy banks of a mighty river, in a world unknown. Miraculously provided with food, but with no clues to the meaning of their strange new afterlife, billions of people from every period of Earth's history--and prehistory--must start again.

Sir Richard Francis Burton would be the first to glimpse the incredible way-station, a link between worlds. This forbidden sight would spur the renowned 19th-century explorer to uncover the truth. Along with a remarkable group of compatriots, including Alice Liddell Hargreaves (the Victorian girl who was the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland), an English-speaking Neanderthal, a WWII Holocaust survivor, and a wise extraterrestrial, Burton sets sail on the magnificent river. His mission: to confront humankind's mysterious benefactors, and learn the true purpose--innocent or evil--of the Riverworld . . .

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Product Details

  • Series: Riverworld Saga (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; Reprint edition (June 30, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345419677
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345419675
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #654,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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What captures your attention and holds it is not just the brilliantly creative story premise, which by itself would be worth a read, but the quality of research which Philip Jose Farmer clearly put into creating this novel. By using Burton as his main character, a flesh-and-blood anti-hero plucked straight from history, the fantastic action takes on a very believable feel, being no more amazing than anything else Burton accomplished in life. JPF has done an incredible job of researching Burton and painting him in a completely understandable and human way. I'd almost consider this book a hybrid of science fiction and historical fantasy - the historical characters are generally, more fleshed out and better developed than any of the fictional characters. I highly recommend this book, but suggest avoiding the rest of the series - they are just a series of cliff-hangers clearly designed to milk the River World story for everything it's worth. This first story makes a wonderfully self-contained adventure, and the rest of the books add nothing (and subtract much through revisionist plot-adjustment) that I sincerely wish I'd avoided them myself.
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Format: Paperback
This is the introductory book of Philip Jose Farmer's five volume Riverworld series, books that do not stand alone, and must be read in sequence from beginning to end for the whole story. As an introduction to an outstanding series, 'To Your Scattered Bodies Go' works well, and makes a good beginning.
The premise of the Riverworld books is unique, fantastic, and the hook that will draw you in and hold you. All of humankind, everyone who ever lived, is simultaneously resurrected on an artificially formed world along the banks of a millions mile long river that snakes around and around the planet. Everyone is mid-twenties, ageless, and their needs are supplied by a fantastic technology none of them understand. And everyone is equally ignorant of the who, how, and why of their miraculous resurrection.
Not everyone is equally willing to remain ignorant however. Sir Richard Francis Burton, explorer, adventurer, spy, writer, linguist, swordsman, and self-style rake of the 19th century Victorian British Empire, one of the most restless and adventuring men ever to live, was resurrected naked, along with the rest of humanity. In no time at all, he is off with a group of companions, sailing up river to search for it's source (as he searched for the source of the Nile on Earth) and for the answers to the mystery of their existence in this strange after-life. Slowly, he begins to put together clues that he hopes will lead him to the hidden gnosis of his strange new world.
I would give this book five stars for its concept, but only three for its execution. The scope of the concept is huge, leaving fascinating possibilities to explore throughout the series. (This Farmer exploits well.
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Format: Paperback
Some really scathing reviews here and some quite unfair given that this novel was written 32 years ago. Film, theater, television and, yes, novels all age just as we do. They (like their author)are products of their time. I haven't read this book since the mid-70's and decided to revisit based on some of the reviews here to see if it was all that bad.

Guess what, it's still a pretty terrific book. Science fiction ages a bit less well than most mainstream or contemporary lit. Why? Because you're imagining the future--science fiction is like gambling you know the odds, you know that you could lose or be wrong, yet you do it anyway. Sometimes you're right and sometimes you're wrong. Really, predicting the future isn't the point but observing human behavior because science fiction--the best science fiction--isn't just about doo hickeys and gadets. It's about human behavior.

If Phil Farmer's Rvierworld books are a bit dated, it's because the author wrote the first installment (before it was a novel) in 1966. The only thing that's kept the novel interesting is 1)Farmer's fascinating concept and 2) The general quality of the writing. Sure, it's not the generic formularic writing we've come to expect--it's actually got something missing from much modern writing--character.

That said, the concept and execution are terrific. Sir Richard Francis Burton author of The Arabian Nights and well known explorer is our hero. He dies on the first page. He awakens to what he believes is the afterlife where he sees millions of other bodies suspended in what appears to be hibernation. The next thing he knows he's been resurrected with all of humanity (and one alien creature)along the banks of a great river.
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Format: Paperback
Reading the other reviews, as I usually do, I was horrified to find that no-one seemed to understand the Riverworld series. "Not too deep", "Not really science fiction" ... ?? I don't know if i'm reading a different series than the rest of the people reviewing this book, but it's a very deep, very classic science fiction novel.
It's not set on a far-off planet (well, not exactly); no space ships, only one alien; barely noticeably set in the future at all. If that was what made a good SF novel, then Star Trek would be the be all and end all of the genre.
Any good SF reader, though, knows that Riverworld is what makes SF great reading: Deep philosophical and sociological questions, answered by way of an artificially created society that tests the author's answers to the questions, or else helps discover the answers. Riverworld, and particularly To Your Scattered Bodies Go (by far the best of them), is an interesting attempt to analyse the creation of civilization from anarchy, as well as being an amusing exploration of several historical characters, probably some of Farmer's favourite personages from history. I say attempt, because it's not perfect; I find myself disagreeing with his ideas of what society would become, mostly because it is a bit too simplistic for my tastes.
All in all, it is an interesting experiment, and a thoroughly enjoyable one. Read if you like Asimov's Foundation novels, Clarke's Rama novels, or some of the less academic alternate histories.
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