Sunday, April 23, 2006

Serious reading for fun

The Premise:

Take everyone who has ever lived, and have them awaken on a gigantic world circled by a million-mile-long river. Hitler, Moses, Napoleon, Washington, Jesus, you name the historical person and they're there.

They awaken naked, near "grails" that contain clothing, food, and various types of survival gear. The grails are large stone depositories that regularly recharge themselves, and all one need do is insert one's personal canister within, and bingo, good to go until reaching another grail-site.

What a world, eh? One particular inhabitant, Samuel Clemens, wants to know from whence all this came, so he recruits many followers then builds the most fabulous Riverboat ever to traverse the planet and see what he can see.

Oh, and suicide is not possible. Kill yourself and you awaken on a distant shore, always near the river and a grail stone, and many folks use this as an fast means of transportation. Whack an enemy? Well don't believe him to be gone forever.

The Author

Phillip Jose Farmer's Riverworld series was one of the most impressive Science Fiction tomes ever written, and why wouldn't it be with such a cast of characters around to seed Farmer's ever fertile imagination. Think of 'Lost' as a mini-Riverworld, sans the great personages of course, and without a clue as to what characterization and narrative thread means. A TV movie (the Sci-Fi Channels horrid 2004 adaptation) once tried to bring Riverworld to the masses but failed miserably as this is something better left for a well funded mini-series with actors we've actually seen before in places other than She-Spies or the like.

The Rest

I awaited the publication of each new installment with bated breath, and the Sci-Fi Channel did it so little justice as to render the premise ridiculous. Bad acting, implausible writing, horrid directing, and let's not forget the politically correctness that MUST infest everything nowadays and include nobodies because they happen to be minorities and/or of the distaff gender.

Given the choice I'd rather spend time with Ulysses, Poe, Jefferson, or any number of historical figures than Susan B. Anthony, but that's just me.

Anyhoot, you can do far worse than curling up with a Farmer.

To Your Scattered Body's Go
The Fabulous Riverboat
The Dark Design
The Magic Labyrinth
The Gods of Riverworld

Did I mention that Sir Richard Francis Burton, the second greatest swordsman ever, gets to duel perhaps the greatest in Cyrano de Bergerac?


Lemuel Calhoon said...

Those were good books. The Sci-Fi "movie" was the pilot for a series that never got made (good thing too).

Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

That SciFi Riverworld was awful.

Fits said...

Someone needs to do it with a star, surrounded by decent enough actors. The story is mindboggling, but perhaps too much for certain conservatives.