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Riverworld: To Your Scattered Bodies Go/The Fabulous Riverboat (Riverworld #1-2)

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  868 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
"Charts a territory somewhere between Gulliver's Travels and The Lord of the Rings."

To Your Scattered Bodies Go and The Fabulous Riverboat
Combined for the first time in one volume!

Imagine that every human who ever lived, from the earliest Neanderthals to the present, is resurrected after death on the banks of an astonishing and seemingly endless river on an unknown
Paperback, 448 pages
Published March 30th 2010 by Tor Books (first published March 31st 2008)
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Blood River by Tim ButcherThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainHeart of Darkness by Joseph ConradDeath on the Nile by Agatha ChristieLife on the Mississippi by Mark Twain
51st out of 280 books — 131 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,396)
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Tuco Markham
Jun 16, 2012 Tuco Markham rated it it was ok
As I make my way through all the Hugo Award winners, I am discovering (unfortunately) that several books are parts of a series...I may read a winner and the story is not resolved or even worse it is in the middle or end of a series. "To Your Scattered Bodies Go" was the Hugo winner here and it ends abruptly with no resolution to any questions or mysteries (which at first I wanted to know the answers to!) Then I read "The Fabulous Riverboat" which is set on the same Riverworld but did little to a ...more
Feb 06, 2014 Nancy rated it liked it
Since this is books 1 & 2 together, the rating ends up as a 3. Book 1 I'd give a 4.5, but Book 2 a generous 2. The concept of the Riverworld is great, and the story and characters in the first book are interesting and appealing with a dark humor. But the 2nd book doesn't go anywhere until the very end, and the main character, Sam Clemens, is so unappealing that I was glad at his misfortune, and glad for the book to end. Don't know if I'll continue with the series: the next book sees the retu ...more
Sean O'Brien
Feb 15, 2013 Sean O'Brien rated it really liked it
(This review covers the series)

To the uninitiated, Riverworld is a five-book series written between 1971 to 1983. In order, the books are:
To Your Scattered Bodies Go
The Fabulous Riverboat
The Dark Design
The Magic Labyrinth
(The) Gods of Riverworld.
(I did not read the fifth book, and you will see why in this review)
To sum up quickly and without revealing too much: The Riverworld is a mysterious alien planet on which nearly all human beings have been resurrected (minus very young children). How and
K.A. Jordan
Mar 04, 2011 K.A. Jordan rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi
This is the most amazing book.

It has been YEARS since I read Sci-Fi - "To Your Scattered Bodies Go" is simply awesome. Burton was a good action hero - and the plot moved along making the world unfold and the mysteries maddening.

However, I was not impressed with "The Fabulous Riverboat" for a lot of reasons.

1) The plot didn't 'move' along. I kept wondering when something was going to happen. As a writer I've heard of 'sagging middles' this was a good example.

2) Sam Clemens didn't act his age -
Nov 11, 2012 Dave rated it liked it
(This is for The Fabulous Riverboat: I reviewed To Your Scattered Bodies Go separately.)

This, I think, is the one book in the series (of the four I read when I was younger) that really drags on. Farmer uses As You Know, Bob a bit much, goes into a little too much detail at times, and is also trying to describe each of the groups that is going to do something (at this point, we're not sure what) without telling us too much about anything farther down the road. As a result, much of the book is a d
Josh Storey
Jan 20, 2011 Josh Storey rated it did not like it
The premise is so good. The execution is so bad. Maybe the later books make up for it? I'm sure in a year or so, I'll look back on the book and think, "Ah, I was too harsh. I should give the next one a shot." Then I'll read the next book and remember why I hated the first one.

My main gripe with the book? The prose. The style. The frakin' passive voice! Also, the excruciating over attention to measurement. The lighter was three quarters of an in in width and two inches in height? Really? Gee, gla
Sep 16, 2014 Ethan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's an interesting concept, but the story is disjointed and there's honestly no very compelling motivation behind the plot. Rather, it's hard enough to relate to the protagonists' motivation that it just isn't very interesting. Also, facts are repeatedly stated so frequently that it seems like it was published episodically in a magazine. Maybe it was. It's just not that nice of a way to hear a story.
It's fun to think about how tons of historical figures would interact if put in a room together
Sep 16, 2015 Ron rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jewell Moreno
May 30, 2015 Jewell Moreno rated it liked it
This is actually the first two books of the series together. Book One : To Your Scattered Bodies Go. This story focuses on the resurrections from the beginning and follows the character Richard Francis Burton, and yes I had to look who he was on Wikipedia. He was a famous British explorer. The concept of the riverworld series is that everyone who has ever been alive on earth is resurrected somewhere along a river on another planet. Who resurrected everyone and why is the concept of all the stori ...more
Dec 30, 2015 Andrew rated it did not like it
Shelves: science-fiction
Great premise destroyed by weak writing. The plot meanders more than the titular river, and, like the river, never achieves any sort of conclusion. Characters are flat and boring, which is quite a feat with Richard Burton and Samuel Clemens. Most egregious, though, is Farmer's abominable handling of gender, race, and culture. Women in the books are little more than helpless dependents on the men around them, and none of the men seem to consider that women have anything to do in life beyond choos ...more
Oct 11, 2014 Colin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great sci-fi in the classic tradition of the golden age . . .

I first learned of Riverworld through a television adaptation that tried to capture the spirit without staying true to the letter of the book . . . I'm of the camp that alwaysnthinks the book is better than the movie, but in this case, the book is SOOOOOO much better than the made-for-TV movie . . . I like that in the classical tradition of the best golden age sci-fi, this book asks you to believe only one truly impossible thing - th
Dennis Comeaux
Nov 27, 2014 Dennis Comeaux rated it it was amazing
Written in 1971 by Philip José Farmer .

What a great combo of 2 books! So the premise is the resurrection, of all sentient critters from Earth. They all wake up, hairless and nude on the banks of a river with 20,000 foot high cliffs on either side and nearly no natural resources. They are given buckets (they call them grails) that can be placed on a stone several times a day to get food, pot (yes, marijuana), dreamgum (think: LSD derivative), booze of all sorts, and food. If you die, you are resu
Clark Stacey
I confess I didn't make it all the way through the second book. The first book includes concepts and character development sufficient to sustain a long short story, or perhaps a novella; at this length, though, it becomes a slog.

It deserves a wink and a nod as an allegory of the hermetic journey (Burton's 777 deaths preceding his "ascension" - like it, like it), but it's clear by the end of 'Scattered Bodies' that Farmer doesn't really know where he's going with the book's central mysteries, bu
Nov 12, 2012 Stuart rated it really liked it
I read this book back in high school and wanted to revisit it. What a fun book! Philip José Farmer is truly underrated. Though written in the 70's this sci-fi book does not read as dated.
Frederic Pierce
Oct 02, 2014 Frederic Pierce rated it really liked it
OK, imagine Edgar Rice Burroughs and Gore Vidal somehow had a baby and that baby grew up and took a lot of drugs. Then he wrote a book.
This book contains the first two novels in Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld series. It is classic 1970s science fiction; mind-blowing concepts coupled with relationships and situations that seemed truly radical at the time, but appear quaint, if not shockingly myopic, in 2014. The premise is that everyone on earth who lived and eventually died on the planet - fro
Sep 14, 2012 April rated it liked it
I read these in high school so I can't be too confident about my rating...
Aug 06, 2015 Chris rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi
To Your Scattered Bodies Go: 4*
This seems to be using a very old school method of writing. Coming up with an absolutely insane concept and just seeing where the story goes. It's insane but constantly moving and challenging you with fascinating philosophical questions about the nature of the universe. It really shows what science-fiction can be. My only criticism is that it is too short and breaks off too soon when I want to know more about Burton's journey and go deeper into the characters

The Fa
W.L. Wren
Jun 07, 2015 W.L. Wren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-hold
Very briefly ... I read this so many years ago it must have been in another life. I've reread the first book now, To Your Scattered Bodies Go, and I'm a few chapters into the second, The Fabulous Riverboat. And it is as I remember. The second is the better book, perhaps because of the Mark Twain character. The first, To Your Scattered Bodies Go, features Sir Richard Francis Burton - a seemingly good figure to use based on his biography but the book ends up being a scattered mess, if you'll pardo ...more
Iain Coggins
Mar 14, 2014 Iain Coggins rated it it was ok
The first two in this cycle of weird tales, the kind that naturally intrigue me, but I doubt if I'll continue with the series. I had wanted to read Farmer for some time,and I finally decided to start with To Your Scattered Bodies Go. I enjoyed it quite a bit, yet was disappointed when it left so much unresolved for the next book to tackle. It would be better if TYSBG could stand fully alone as its own book because it is brought down by its dependence on the sequel. Don't get me wrong, I love the ...more
An interesting story: everyone in the world who has ever lived awakens somewhere along a river tens of thousands of miles long, with food provided them and very little else. They don't know why they are there and have to sort themselves out and make some meaning out of their renewed existence. The author provides an intriguing setup and is pretty creative about the storyline -- you never know which famous person from history is going to come up next.

Three factors prevented this from being four s
Oct 08, 2011 Brenda rated it really liked it
It's an iconic series... what's there to say? The total population of Earth that ever lived, from prehistoric humanity to everyone alive when most of humanity was destroyed by aliens in 2008 (remember when that happened?) is resurrected in the distant future on the shores of an endless, winding river. Among those resurrected is Richard Burton, the 19th century adventurer; Alice Pleasance Liddell, the historical Alice on whom Lewis Carroll based his books; and Philip Jose Farmer himself, thinly d ...more
Mar 18, 2013 Frank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As this is a combination of two books, I've decided to simply post both reviews back to back.

I've given this the score of 4/5 as The first book was weaker, the second book definitely made up for it, and redeemed itself.

To Your Scattered Bodies Go 3/5

When reading Riverworld, I believe I can some up the book using a idea. "Fascinating idea, horrible execution" Is the book worth reading though? Well as a fast read, I can definitely say it's worth reading as the first half of the book is very inte
Aug 15, 2012 Steve rated it did not like it
The overall premise was interesting enough, but the writing was just plain bad. Most annoying was the distortion of actual historic characters into some sort of comic book caricatures that bore almost no resemblance to the real person.

Sir Richard Burton (the explorer, not the actor) has always been one of my favorite explorers. This book tries to portray him as some sort of action hero bent on destroying the creators of the world on which he finds himself. Yet, none of the intelligence and curi
Michael Nash
Feb 02, 2013 Michael Nash rated it liked it
This series was an enormous disappointment. When I saw the Scifi miniseries back in high school, I thought, wow, what a cool premise, I wish there was a decent story to go along with it, and figured that the book had to be better than the Scifi series. And while it has been, Farmer so insists on taking the interesting concept and doing nothing interesting with it that I felt like I might as well be watching Scifi half the time. Rather than exploring the deep cultural clashes that might have aris ...more
Valeria G.
Apr 11, 2015 Valeria G. rated it it was ok
I've only managed to get through the first book. What kept me going was the desire to find out about the world structure, and what exactly it stands for, or at least the goal of the being who created the world. However the characters were not very engaging, and rather two dimensional. Yes, we might get a lot of background information on them, especially if they are historical figures, but it does not mean there is any psychological complexity, which causes a certain detachment from them.
May 30, 2014 Steven rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This is a two book compilation of the first and second novels in the Riverworld series. Together, they form an adequate introduction to the story. The first book focuses on Richard Burton, the explorer, and the second on Mark Twain.

There is a lot to enjoy about these novels, which are well written and imaginative. However, there are many missed opportunities, especially regarding the famous people Farmer could have used but, so far,has not.

The most interesting aspect of the story is just who is
Dec 12, 2012 Hypatia rated it liked it
Shelves: library, scifi
I really enjoyed To your Scattered Bodies, but I didn't like the Fabulous Riverboat as much. Twain (the main character of the second book) made too many stupid choices. You could see the inevitable doom coming a mile off, as could he, but he didn't seem to really do anything about it because he was too obsessed with his boat.

Also, I found the books had a lot of subtle sexism. There are very few female characters, and while some of them are warriors, engineers, etc, those women never have any na
Jun 22, 2012 Dylan rated it it was ok
It's "iconic" but... I don't know. Didn't enjoy it that much. Rather, liked it in spurts, but found it tedious and unengaging at other times. Definitely a wild concept/ framework though. In part, the problem arises from the dated sexism/racism woven into the books genes, which might not be totally fair. It's not that the book voices super disturbing or even particularly offensive views; it's that women are rather categorically limited to roles as the weak, physically dependent sex partners of wh ...more
Lisa Yudin
Mar 08, 2016 Lisa Yudin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Perfectly awful. A woman at a dinner party spent half an hour gushing about this book series. I kept it on my "to read" list for about a year. Finally downloaded (it came with the second book). Finished the first book. Did not like. He had some really creative ideas, but none seem fully flushed out. Began the second book and decided... why?

Moving on.
Dec 20, 2013 Clarence rated it did not like it
I've known of these books for years and never got around to reading them. I recently saw a review that said they were great and lauded Philip Jose Farmer as one of the best SF authors ever.

I'll have to disagree. These books have almost no plot; shallow, unbelievable characters; and are extraordinarily tedious to read. In my opinion, Farmer is just not a good writer, and these books were nothing to write home about.

The concept is nearly identical to that of Afterworld, by R. Vicent Riccio, and fo
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Philip José Farmer was an American author, principally known for his science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories. He was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, but spent much of his life in Peoria, Illinois.

Farmer is best known for his Riverworld series and the earlier World of Tiers series. He is noted for his use of sexual and religious themes in his work, his fascination for and reworking of th
More about Philip José Farmer...

Other Books in the Series

Riverworld (5 books)
  • To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Riverworld, #1)
  • The Fabulous Riverboat (Riverworld, #2)
  • The Dark Design (Riverworld, #3)
  • The Magic Labyrinth (Riverworld, #4)
  • The Gods of Riverworld (Riverworld, #5)

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