Monday, 12 May 2014

Riverworld by Philip Jose Farmer

His wife had held him in her arms as if she could keep death away from him.

This is the opening line of To Your Scattered Bodies Go, the first book in the Riverworld series. I am ashamed to say that I first learned about this story only after watching the pilot of a failed TV series that is now released as a movie with a gaping cliffhanger. I was pretty upset that nothing else was made, thinking I would never learn what happened next. Fortunately, I came across these books so I can find out how it all ends.

The opening line hooks in that there is the conflict of death. It raises questions like why and how this person dies. The pronouns are annoying, but as one reads on, the faceless characteristic of the characters adds to the mystery of death and the afterlife.

The next paragraph and first thing said;

He had cried out, “My God, I am a dead man!”

This is a little melodramatic. I hope all the dialogue won't be so over the top, complete with an exclamation mark!

The door to the room had opened, and he had seen a giant, black, one-humped camel outside and had heard the tinkle of the bells on its harness as the hot desert wind touched them. Then a huge black face topped by a great black turban had appeared in the doorway. The black eunuch had come in through the door, moving like a cloud, with a gigantic scimitar in his hand. Death, the Destroyer of Delights and the Sunderer of Society, had arrived at last.

Blackness. Nothingness. He did not even know that his heart had given out forever. Nothingness.

So right in the opening the character dies with some rather harrowing description and then:

Then his eyes opened.

What follows is a bizarre and confusing description of the after life in which the person finds himself in a floating cocoon. Many questions are raised, which is what a good hook is made of.

Verdict: Pass

Rudy Globird

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