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)
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.
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.
Kat at FanLit
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 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.
Older sci-fi has a certain tone. I find that most sci-fi written before about 1950 reads like an adventure story that occurs in a strange setting. If you've read Lewis' "That Hideous Strength," Burroughs' mars series, or Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," you probably know what I'm talking about. This book falls right in line with that particular tone, despite being written in the 70's.
I have come across this book (and the series as a whole) several times on lists of important sci-fi works. I frankly don't understand why it merits mentioning.
The story just isn't that compelling. The main character is Sir Richard Francis Burton, who is an actual historical figure. If you're a big fan of his, maybe you'll like this book more than I did. Since I had barely heard of him, and basically couldn't care less about him, this just seems like a weird story about a guy who acts like kind of a jerk.
Perhaps someone doing an academic exploration of this novel would call it a "Fish-out-of-water story exploring the limits and eventual breakdown of Victorian manners." I just thought it was dull.
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 read this as a teenager but had no recollection other than I remember enjoying it and several of the sequels. Just goes to show kids don't know much about literature.
The concept is interesting but character development is poor. If you're a feminist- I am not- this read will repulse you. This book reminds me of Robert Heinlein's general pontification and interest in free love with women with no brains. Moreover, Mr. Farmer is likely a socialist considering his apparent opinions about human motivation.
Interestingly, Hermann Goering plays a prominent role in this book. He is important in the book I'm listening to now, THE WINDS OF WAR, of course.
I might have ventured another credit on the sequels but several reader's reviews disuaded me.
There are thousands of books, including scifi and fantasy, beter worth your time.
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.
I loved this book at 15 and it is still great. Farmer's sociological and historical background gives a level of detail that I just love. To tell the truth I remember book #2 is the best of the lot, an opinion seconded in a recent conversation with an old friend with whom I discussed the book with 40 years ago. Neither of us is satisfied with Farmer's series ending, but the journey itself is so great that I don't really care about the ending all that much.
"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.
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