Riverworld - a travel through past, present, future and fantasy
Riverworld is a science fiction saga - with a twist
Philip José Farmer (PJF for short) has written a saga of five novels. This series of books demonstrates how ingenious science fiction writers can be, at their best. This is, what I am on about here: His saga of five books, known as the Riverworld saga.
The very cool thing in science fiction novels is the new world you are given besides the story. Most people like a good crime story, but the world is usually wellknown, but sci-fi expands the world with new places, lifeforms and possibilities. Hence, a crime story written by a sci-fi writer tends to be, a lot more unpredictable, at least the good ones.
The Riverworld Books by Philip José Farmer
Philip José Farmer has written and published many more books, but these five here are the books in the Riverworld saga.
Introduction to Riverworld
In the Riverworld books we meet a lot of history's wellknown characters. People like Mark Twain, Sir Francis Richard Burton, and also bad guys like Hermann Göring.
Welcome to a journey through history, future and fantasy. Oh, and of course the main character sets out to figure out who did this, and why!
To Your Scattered Bodies Go
First book of the Riverworld saga
In the first book everybody alive on earth, ever, from 5 years old and up is revied along the River in a body aged 25, but with all their memory from past life on Earth. We are talking someting along the line of 37 billion people.
The main character is Sir Richard Francis Burton. He soon sets his mind on finding out, who did this. In this book he doesn't, but he does discover some secrets.
He travels to several places on the river and learns about people, and how they rebuild societies, and fight wars. Burton also meets his "soul companion", a historic character that just seems to be, whereever Burton is.
On Riverworld you can not die, or actually you can, but you are resurrected in a new spot next morning.
The Fabulous Riverboat
Second book of the Riverworld sagaWe have left Richard Burton to himself. But we do meet some of his mates as well in this book. Sam Clemens, aka Mark Twain, has a dream that he is going to do anything to live out: build a boat noone ever has seen and never will see again on Riverworld. Luck strikes, or actually someone helps luck by allowing a meteor to crash close enough to Sam. Now there are metals on the planet. A big limitation up to now!
Metals are useful, and neighbours want in on the deal as well. Sam and John (Lackland aka Prince John) must go through a lot of trouble and make delicate political decisions to defend their land, and finish the boat.
A mysterious stranger contacts Sam and discloses some information, but nothing much useful.
The Dark Design
Third book of the Riverworld saga
After the Riverboat is finished and launched, the people left behind start building a blimp. The blimp can go high enough to pass over the mountains dividing the shores of the River, hence travel to the North Pole in a straight line, a much shorter path than following the winding river.
Life along the River has also changed and become a lot more valuable. We spend a lot of time with Peter Frigate and meet some other of Earth's great authors.
The blimp, Parseval, makes it to the North Pole of Riverworld, but things are not just over with that. A sinister plan seems to unfold soon.
The Magic Labyrinth
Fourth book of the Riverworld sagaOld friends meet again. Now the planet seems to be falling apart. Some of the grailstones stop working, and a in bloodbath of epic dimensions 17 billion (give and take) people are killed in 24 hours.
A large battle between the river boats and a long journey to the tower concludes the story.
What has happened to the rulers of this world? Who are in charge, and how many are actually agents and not just resurrected earthlings?
Many questions arise in the fourth book, and answers are in there, too.
The Gods of Riverworld
Fifth book of the Riverworld SagaBurton, Frigate and the rest of the crew that got to the Tower are still there. The accompanying ethical is now gone. However, it seems that there are still someone else in the tower.
Using the Tower Computer to resurrect people in the tower, creating new societies.
Related to the books
- movies, games etc
Sci-Fi Channel owns the right to do a tv series on Riverworld. However, only a pilot episode has ever been recorded and aired. You can find information about the Riverworld DVD on IMDB.com. Also watch a few scenes uploaded to YouTube below.
A computer game has been released as well by Cryo Interactive in 1998. Here are reviews on the GameOver website
Steven Jackson Games has released a roleplaying game book, GURPS (=Generic Universal Role Playing System) Riverworld. Read an article on the game book here at Steven Jackson Games.
Other sci-fi writers have teamed up, and written stories in PJF's universe, and released them in compilations together with other PJF short stories. The wikipedia pages and pjfarmer.com (links below), lists these books.
Related to Riverworld
Video games, DVDs and more books that relates to Riverworld.
This is the computer game.
The DVD with the pilot of the Riverworld TV series.
A compilation of all 5 novels. If you need all of them, buying the compilation may be cheaper.
A related story.
A related story.
Riverworld videos - A few scenes rom the Riverworld pilot episode done by Sci-Fi Channel. There were not recorded any more episodes.
The movie (or feature length episode, a pilot) set in the Riverworld scenery. The movie does not start in book one, but is (very) freely built on parts of book 2, with flashbacks to book 1. The movie does not give true credit to the books. A character like Sir Richard Francis Burtin is not appearing, and animals (horses for instance) are used, in the books there are no animals at all except a few species of fish. The film itself is not bad, but as a promoter of the story and scenery, it fails totally. Maybe that is why it was never continued?
Tell me what you think of Philip José Farmer's Riverworld saga.