Christian's Reviews > To Your Scattered Bodies Go

To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip José Farmer
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's review
Mar 13, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: science-fiction, classics
Recommended for: sci-fi geeks

Philip Jose Farmer's basic premise is both simple and complex: in the far-flung future every person who has every lived and died in Earth's history (up to 2008) is reborn in prime condition at age 25 on the banks of a seemingly endless river. The lead character, adventurer and writer Sir Francis Burton, gathers together a band of fellows and goes looking for answers. Who created this place? How does it work? And what is the reason for this enigmatic experiment? On the way, Farmer toys with ideas of civilization, natural law, and man's ideal state, while tossing around plenty of sex and violence.

In spite of what I felt was somewhat hackneyed, painful writing (and plotting) in spots, the Riverworld premise was curious enough to keep me turning the pages. By the end, enough twists had been introduced to make me wonder what was next. The book, a product of the 1970s sci-fi renaissance, is a playground for Farmer's personal fantasies and musings, and is stacked with plenty of autobiographical tidbits, as well as giving the author license to play with any number of favorite authors and inspirations.

This is one of those "SF classics" that sort of hovered around, unread and ignored until I stumbled upon news of Farmer's death in January 2009. (His obituaries in the NY Times and the Guardian UK offer good summaries of his life and career.) A quick and pleasant read while riding the subway, Farmer's world provided a welcome escape from the daily grind--especially since my main book of choice right now is a too-heavy-to-lug-about tome.

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