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To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose…

To Your Scattered Bodies Go (original 1971; edition 1981)

by Philip Jose Farmer

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3,102572,862 (3.75)98
For explorer Richard Francis Burton and Alice Liddell Hargreaves 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 gian river valley called Riverworld.… (more)
Title:To Your Scattered Bodies Go
Authors:Philip Jose Farmer
Info:Berkley (1981), Paperback
Collections:Shelf 5: West Wall, Row 1

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To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip José Farmer (Author) (1971)


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» See also 98 mentions

English (50)  French (4)  Finnish (2)  All languages (56)
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
A disappointingly functional take on an interesting concept. Retro sci-fi from writers who cut their teeth in pulp magazines often has this feel, and it seems par for the course to be kinder to the pioneers of the genre when their ground-breaking work lacks the flair, grace or robustness of some of their successors. But this can only take you so far, and the straight truth is that Farmer's book, for all its originality, can be a chore to read even at a short 200 pages. The dialogue is functional, the world-building clunky, the characters one-dimensional and the plot inconclusive. The book is in a kind of funk, and it is appropriate that the story begins with its characters waking up naked and hairless – and circumcised, bizarrely – in a strange world surrounded by giant mushrooms. Because this book has all the bewildering shabbiness of a bad acid trip. ( )
  Mike_F | Oct 2, 2019 |
This is the Easton Press leather bound edition. See other edition for review. ( )
  Karlstar | Jun 9, 2019 |
Richard Francis Burton finds himself resurrected along with the rest of humanity in a strange alien place. Brought back in the prime of life he awakes on the banks of a mighty river. After settling nearby with a group of others, which include Alice Hargreaves, Burton gets the desire to go find the source of the river and explore some more to see if he can discover why they’ve been brought back.

I wasn’t really aware who the main character was prior to reading this book, which is the first of the Riverworld series, but that didn’t hinder as you learn of some of his previous exploits from other people. The story moves along at quite a fast pace but this detracts somewhat from the development of subsidiary characters with the reader only really getting to know Burton. I enjoyed the premise of the story and the examination of humanity but this book is very much of its time and allowances for that are needed. ( )
  AHS-Wolfy | Mar 6, 2019 |
Having a Victorian man be your protagonist, even an adventurous libertine of a Victorian, will allow an author to get away with a lot.

Riverworld is a fantastic idea. Stupendous. All who have ever lived and died on Earth have been simultaneously resurrected, including pre-humans, cured of disease, and disabilities, and all in the prime of life. All of their basic needs are provided for, but there are no explanations given for this strange miracle. I was introduced to it through the 2003 TV-movie (a failed pilot) and immediately ordered the first two books from the library.

And I liked them then, and I like 'To Your Scattered Bodies Go' now, except I just can't get past the huge gap between the great greatness of the idea and the basic adequacy of the plot. Richard Burton, explorer and translator of the 'Arabian Nights' is our compulsory hero, accompanied by a stand-in for Farmer himself, an alien who caused the supposed-end of humanity, a neanderthal, and an inter-changeable cast of female love-bots led by Alice Hargreaves (inspired 'Alice in Wonderland').

Sorry, that's not fair. Alice Hargreaves is a silly prude until later in the book after the group is captured, and she and the other women are raped over and over for an indeterminable time (which is just, fuuuuck, why?). The men are forced to mine with a bunch of other unfortunates, but Burton orchestrates an escape. Its never really explained how so many people are forced to do anything in a world where everybody is young and fit, starts on the same footing, and technology is at the sticks and stones level. Where does the power base come from?. Eventually Alice becomes the "hutmate" of Burton.

Herman Goring and a pre-Republic King of Rome are the primary human villains but there is the whole mystery of Riverworld to get to the bottom of, and Burton makes the attempt. The powerful beings who have created this new life might have sinister motives of their own. Or not. But maaaaybe....

What's great about the book is how Burton relentlessly deconstructs the Riverworld in his attempts to understand it. He challenges the logistics of such an undertaking just as the reader does. Farmer doesn't exploit the potential of having a huge cast of notable and famous people either. It should have left a lot of room for character development without worries of "accuracy". No unique characters fill that void though. What else is wrong is he doesn't even approach the possibilities of clashing cultures (the initial distribution of people resurrected large percentages of people who died in the same time/place in the same area). Burton is the only character who is given any real characterization in-book, and that is mostly in the form of strident defensive posturing along the lines of "I only wrote that polemic damning Jews because the moneylenders of Damascus blah blah blah". The book is hollow, with most of the cultures encountered being identical to each other except for their names and women having no bearing to the plot or any self-agency except when it comes to being sexual partners.

OK, when I actual write out my problems with the book it seems like there isn't much to like. It's a great idea, but Farmer turned it into something like a dead-end, because Book 2, 'The Fabulous Riverboat', only builds on the problems within the series instead of expanding the world's possibilities.


Next: 'The Fabulous Riverboat' ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
Fascinating setting for the story with little explanation of what underlies it. Enjoyed it but feel little need to read the remainder of the series. ( )
  brakketh | Apr 2, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
Some of Farmer's infelicities can be excused on the grounds that he's gone for a deliberately pulpy style. He's more concerned with cranking out a story at a furious pace than dwelling on technical and psychological details. His portrayal of Hermann Göring, for instance, is cartoonish at best, but that doesn't matter because we all know what Göring was like and anyway, look – he's naked and tripping his nuts off and murdering everyone!

More unforgivable is the bad prose, particularly the mounds of information dumping: "Burton looked closely at the man. Could he actually be the legendary king of ancient Rome? Of Rome when it was a small village threatened by other Italic tribes, the Sabines, the Aequi and Volsci? Who in turn were being pressed by the Umbrians, themselves pushed by the powerful Etruscans?"
added by SnootyBaronet | editThe Guardian

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Farmer, Philip JoséAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Di Fate, VincentCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hecht, PaulNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Powers, Richard M.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevens, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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His wife had held him in her arms as if she could keep death away from him.
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