From Academic Kids

Riverworld is a fictional universe and the setting for a series of science fiction books written by Philip José Farmer. The five novels in the series are as follows :

There are also several Riverworld short stories. The first of these appeared in Farmer's anthology:

  • Riverworld and Other Stories (a Farmer anthology with one Riverworld story, titled Riverworld)

In the early 1990s, it was decided to turn Riverworld into a shared universe anthology series, with numerous authors being invited to participate. Only two volumes were released:

  • Tales of Riverworld (includes two stories written by Farmer: Crossing the Dark River and A Hole in Hell.)
  • Quest to Riverworld (includes two stories written by Farmer: Crossing the Bright River and Coda.)

The Riverworld is a planet, where the landscape has been sculpted to consist of one enormous river that loops down one hemisphere and up the other. The banks of the 2.5 km wide and enormously deep river move onto a wide plain on each side and then climb to hills and then an impenetrable mountain range, leaving a roughly 15 km wide and 32 million kilometre long valley (Books I and II, Book III states the river is 16.09 million km long). The weather is absolutely controlled; there are no seasons, and daily variations are metronomic. There is no animal or insect life other than fish, and there is limited variety in the lush vegetation.

The whole of humanity from the time of early humans through to the early 21st century appear to have been resurrected along the banks of the river, an estimated thirty-five to thirty-seven billion people ("thirty-six billion, six million, nine thousand, six hundred and thirty-seven"). Everyone has the same body that they possessed at the age of twenty-five (the one difference to their bodies is that all the men are circumcised), and further aging does not seem to occur. No children under the age of five were resurrected; those children older than 5 grow on Riverworld to the age of about 25, then no further aging occurs. All the people are healthy and free from congenital or other defects (such as addictions to drugs). There is no disease. Should an individual die on Riverworld they will soon find themselves once again reincarnated, whole in body, somewhere else along the banks of the river; some people utilize the "Suicide Express" to travel randomly. The people are provided with daily food and occasional other treats (narcotics, firelighters), but otherwise, apparently, left to their own devices.

The reason behind the existence of Riverworld is initially a complete mystery. In Farmer's books a number of historical figures - including Sir Richard Burton, Alice Hargreaves, Samuel Clemens, John I of England, Mozart, and Hermann Göring - interact with fictional characters in a quest to discover the purpose behind the creation of Riverworld and their reincarnation. Another character, Peter Jairus Frigate, bears a striking resemblance to Farmer himself.

Since the publication of the original books, several authors have used the Riverworld setting for their own stories.

The Fabulous Riverboat, amongst other threads, portrays Göring as a missionary of the Church of the Second Chance, a peaceful religion.

Since all the languages of mankind are represented in Riverworld, Esperanto spreads as a common tongue.

Derived works

A set of rules for the GURPS role-playing game system based on Riverworld was released by Steve Jackson Games.

A TV series based on the Riverworld saga went into production for the Sci Fi Channel in 2001 but only the feature length pilot episode was completed. It was aired in 2003.

A PC computer game of Riverworld was released in October 1998 by Cryo Interactive. The soundtrack was by Stephane Picq and published as a CD by Shooting Star Music (http://www.shooting-star.com).

The City of The Saved in the Faction Paradox universe is a blatant "borrowing" of the concept.

Related links

Excerpt: To Your Scattered Bodies Go - An excerpt from the first novel in Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld series, published by Random House (http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=0345419677&view=excerpt)de:Flusswelt


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