Archive for November 1st, 2009

Riverworld Series – Philip Jose Farmer

Posted on 1 November 2009. Filed under: Book Reviews |

Riverworld Series – Philip Jose Farmer

Riverworld is an amazing idea. Imagine the entire population of the Earth that has ever lived and imagine that population being resurrected on another world. How would this work? I couldn’t even begin to contemplate figuring out how this would work, but Philip Jose did. He must have looked at the numbers, though, as he divided the world’s population into two, those who had died after the age of 5 and lived between the years 99,000 b.c.e. and 1983 c.e. who were not mentally retarded or psychopaths were resurrected on Riverworld while everyone else was resurrected on Gardenworld.

We mostly see Riverworld from the viewpoint of Richard Francis Burton. Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton KCMG FRGS (19 March 1821 – 20 October 1890) was an English explorer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, ethnologist, linguist (speaking 29 languages), poet, hypnotist, fencer and diplomat. Richard Burton gathers together a group of people such as Hermann Goering, Alice Liddell Hargreaves (from Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland) and Cyrano de Bergerac for a trip up the river. They get all the way to the top of the river and find and enter the tower. They have many great adventures and many, many philosophical arguments, but eventually find out the complete purpose of Riverworld.

This is a great series. We get to see so many people who have died and we get to see their characters. I read some of Richard Burton’s Wikipedia page and what I see there is so much like the character shown in the Riverworld books. He looks like a great adventurer, someone who doesn’t like to stand still and can be a charismatic leader in times of trouble but might have trouble leading when things are quiet and this is all shown perfectly in the books. If I was being really thorough I could check some of the other people detailed in these books but I won’t, I’ll just drop a few characters into the mix to hopefully make you want to read them yourself: Samuel Clemens, King John of England, Tom Mix, Mozart, Jack London, Lothar von Richthofen.

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