Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan



Riverworld (2010) Philip Jose Farmer’s novel To Your Scattered Bodies Go won the Hugo award in 1972. I read it, and was not greatly impressed. Later there was The Fabulous Riverboat, set in the same puzzling world. I was even less impressed. When the third one came out I didn’t bother. The series went on for five books and several short stories. The first book starred Sir Richard Burton (not Liz’s husband, the 19th century adventurer who was the first white man to find the source of the Nile). The second featured Mark Twain, who built hisself a riverboat to explore. Both books seemed pretty pointless to me.

The idea is that all the dead people of the world are reincarnated by some mysterious beings on this artificial planet that features an endless river. All they have are these “grails” that deliver food, clothing, and whatever else you need. Farming isn’t possible. Nothing is, really, but interacting with others in good and bad ways. Some sort of sociology experiment? I never found out.

All that is retained from the books here is the idea that these are all dead people. Burton’s death was never discussed in the book. Here, we have a back story, and see the death of a man who is a reporter who covers wars and stuff. He is blown up by a suicide bomber. Richard Burton makes an appearance: he’s a black … er, a Negro man painted blue. That was the final straw, for me. I hadn’t been much interested before, but what was the screenwriter’s point in altering the story so much? Did I care? Not really, not in the book and not in the movie. It’s four hours long, and we turned it off after half an hour.