For explorer Richard Francis Burton, Alice Liddell Hargreaves - the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland - and the rest of humanity, death is nothing like they expected. Instead of heaven, hell, or even the black void of nothingness, all of the 36 billion people who ever lived on Earth are simultaneously resurrected on a world that has been transformed into a giant river valley.
With hunger and disease eliminated, Burton and the others appear to have everything they need - except an answer to the question "Why?"
Both swashbuckling adventure and insightful examination into mankind's constant search for answers to the unanswerable, To Your Scattered Bodies Go is voiced by narrator Paul Hecht to emphasize every thrilling moment of discovery.
©1971 Philip José Farmer; (P)2000 Recorded Books
"One of the most imaginative worlds in science fiction." (Booklist)
Philip Jos? Farmer is a master of creating worlds, and Riverworld's probing of history and religion, mixed with a world of seemingly endless life is a perfect example. The only drawback is the other books in the series haven't been released yet- Let alone The World of Tiers series.
I first read this book quite a few years ago. The concept was certainly intriguing--everyone you know or know of from your lifetime or history is resurrected along the banks of a river that makes the Amazon look like spring runoff. I really enjoyed Sir Richard Francis Burton as the protagonist through the series and enjoyed appearances by other characters like Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) and Hermann Goering. How everyone reacts to conditions both more advanced that they had known during life and also more primitive makes for an excellent series.
I hope that we get the rest of these books in the near future and that the World of Tiers series comes about, too.
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
After he died, the famous 19th century explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton wasn???t surprised to find that what the Christian priests had taught about the Resurrection wasn???t true. But he was totally bewildered by what actually happened. He woke up young, hairless, naked, and turning in midair (as if on a spit) in the middle of 37 billion other young, hairless, naked and rotating humans. Soon after waking, the bodies ??? all the people over the age of five who had ever lived ??? plunged to the ground and began their new lives together in a giant river valley... Is this Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, or is it some huge social experiment being run by aliens? Most of the humans, happy that their basic needs are being met, are content to just be living again. Some people see this as an opportunity to seize the power and wealth that they had, or never obtained, on Earth. But Sir Richard just wants to know what???s going on. He seems to be the only person who got a glimpse behind the scenes of their new home and, not only does he resent being manipulated, but his curiosity is insatiable. So, he and a few companions set out to explore the Riverworld and, they hope, to discover the source of the river and find some answers. Richard Francis Burton, a fascinating and scandalous man in real life, is the perfect character to explore the Riverworld. Philip Jose Farmer???s depiction of Burton, and several other real historical figures, is superb, though occasionally teachy when Farmer periodically interjects an encyclopedic-sounding aside about a character???s life. It???s hilarious to watch Burton learn about 20th-century history and interact with some of its denizens. The best aspect of TYSBG is its original premise ??? the idea of all of humanity spread out, generally in chronological order, along a giant river which can be traveled, like a human timeline.TYSBG, written in 1971, is creative, exciting, fast-paced, and totally absorbing. I was completely enthralled.
I read this book because the idea of historical figures returning to life and all meeting one another was intriguing. Several other writers also referred to this author and series as having inspired their work. Since I liked their work, I thought I might like this. The idea is good but I don't care too much for the writing. Farmer's pacing is off, it often duels on or returns to a certain theme too often. Events happen that make it seem as though the story will go into a certain direction but it doesn't. It goes back to where it was and stays there for several more chapters. When it ended, I just felt that it could have ended a lot faster.
Also, though this is a symptom of the time in which the book was written, it has no strong female characters. It also objectifies women too much. This is a world in which all people who died return to life young and vigorous. There is no disease, and no pregnancy. But this seems only to be a licence for women to become even more of an object of sexual and emotional desire than in the "real" world. Furthermore, we never see the situation from a woman's point of view. The story starts with an interesting female character in the form of Alice Liddle Hargreaves (the girl who inspires Alice in Wonderland) but she never develops as a character and literally disappears for the last third of the book. She's just there as a sort of mental torture for the lead (male) character Richard Burton. Interestingly enough, I also read the second book in this series, "The Fabulous Riverboat", and there is a female character there who seems to be there only to be out of reach of that book's main character Mark Twain.
I read the second part of the series because I found the idea so strong. But it was hard to relate to the events and characters in either book. I am going to read the third part only because I want to see where the story should already have gotten.
My hearing will surely go out early in life due to all the audiobooks I listen to!
I am one who enjoys books such as this. Its sci-fi with meaning. Underlying messages everywhere and protagonist driven.
After death where do we go? its something humans want to and have striven to know for quite a time, and this tale is quite the rendition of what might happen after. Hunger is no longer a problem, Death...is not really death. Its "travel"
Shadowy figures, confrontation, and human tendencies revealed along with so much more when you delve into this series.
This was a great story from a classic sci-fi author. I highly recommend it. The only negative for me at the time is that part 2 wasn't yet available.
I was pleased to make the acquaintance of this series. The audiobook made both the drama and the visual setting come to life.
Instead of focussing on the groups of humans and cultures who might have worked together to figure out why they were there and establish a safe society, this book mostly focusses on the very worst parts of humanity. I found it highly disturbing that the author took this fascinating idea of the afterlife and turned it into a world where rape and murder were the norm on such a huge scale. Earth has a very bloody history and the author explores human nature in this light, however I suppose I expected a little more development from people who woke up to find they had all been resurrected in the midst of all the cultures who had ever lived.
This book needed better character development all around. Billions of people all wake up at once to find that they have been resurrected from the dead and can now interact with everyone who ever lived, and there is surprisingly little internal development from most characters going through this.
Character of any kind is especially lacking with the book's female characters. I very strongly disliked how the women in this book only existed to have sex with the men, either consensual or (more often) as rape. For example, most if not all of the main female characters in this book join the group by becoming sex partners with one of the male characters as a form of protection, and do not really contribute in any other way except when they are fighting for their lives (to avoid being raped).
The narrator needs to distinguish between characters a little better. He was inconsistent with accents and I frequently got Burton and Frigate confused when there was dialog between them because the narrator would speak the same way with both.
"Great story, well told"
This was my first introduction to Phillip Jose Farmer, and I have to say I loved it. Great science fiction writing, with a fascinating central idea, well-developed and entertaining characters, and fluent writing. I would recommend this to anyone looking for some great science fiction writing.
"Seriously, all SF fans should try this."
I've loved this book for many years - it is one of my very favourites and always makes me think.. "what would I do if I was there... oh... I am there, wonder what I AM doing?" :) It is one of those books that delivers a premise so unusual and profound that it will stick with you.
I have always thought that (the somehow often overlooked) author Edmund Cooper wrote several books that remind me of Scattered Bodies - particularly 'Seahorse in the sky', but also 'Transit' and the magnificent 'Overman Culture'.
Obviously, Farmer's sequel, 'The Fabulous Riverboat' is a must read after this one and 'The Dark Design' (although I remember being less engaged with that one.
Other Farmer books might shock the reader expecting more of 'Scattered' but I particularly liked 'Strange Relations' - for the strong reader, Flesh and Blown are fascinating...
Tricky, I love the initial scene of resurrection; but the ones that probably stick in the memory most are the 'awakening in the chamber', the 'giganthropes at the head of the river' and 'the dreamgum episode'.
Gwen dying, Goring's dreams.
I greatly enjoyed the 'voice' - well done. Next one please - Riverboat. BTW - there was a film made of the book but it is not great :(
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