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To Your Scattered Bodies Go (1971)
If forced to choose the single factor (other than crippling lack of ambition) that lead to my posting a 2.42 my Freshman fall of college, this book would be the culprit I'd point to. You see, I made the mistake of reading this book just before finals & immediately followed it up by reading everything about or by Sir Richard Francis Burton that I could find.
The central conceit of Farmer's Hugo Award Winner is that everyone who ever lived on Earth is resurrected along the banks of a river on a mysterious world. One of the first people to understand their predicament and take action is the linguist, explorer, translator Sir Richard Francis Burton. Along with Alice Hargreaves (of Alice in Wonderland fame), a Neanderthal named Kazz , an alien from Tau Centauri named Monat Grrautut (who precipitated the Apocalypse that destroyed Earth in 2008) and others found along the way, Burton sets off upriver to try to figure out why they've been brought to this place. But when they figure out that The River may be 20 million miles long and then they are captured by Herman Goring and a band of Ancient Romans, things get even more complicated.
Farmer has a wonderful idea here & he plays it to the hilt, dropping in interesting historical characters & playing off cultures and ethnicity's against each other. I especially like the way he's taken his characters to the promised afterlife & instead of finding answers to the question of existence, they find that it's just as confounding as life on Earth.
But the great revelation here is Burton. If you've never heard of him, you'll want to read more & if you're familiar with him, you'll want to read about him anew.
See also:Science Fiction & Fantasy
-Arabian Nights (etext)
-Doomed Explorers: Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890)
-The Sir Richard Burton Society
-Unofficial Philip José Farmer Home Page
If you liked To Your Scattered Bodies Go, try:
Burton, Sir Richard Francis (translator)
I too found Farmer's Riverworld series quite hilarious. Back in the 70's I read a well-researched biography of Burton by Fawn Brodie titled The Devil Drives. She may be remembered for her later work on Thomas Jefferson. Discovering a site that reflects my interests and belief system has been gratifying.
- Mar-19-2003, 12:59