Review of To Your Scattered Bodies Go By Philip Jose Farmer

Science Fiction Audiobooks - To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose FarmerTo Your Scattered Bodies Go
By Philip Jose Farmer; Read by Paul Hecht
6 Cassettes – 7.75 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books Inc.
Published: 2000
ISBN: 0788763261
Themes: / Science Fiction / Resurrection / Society / Aliens /

Paul Hecht reads this Hugo Award-winning novel by Philip Jose Farmer. The novel begins with the resurrection of millions of people from throughout human history. They awaken in a great river, swim to the surface, and emerge onto the shore.

The story’s main character is Sir Richard Burton, an adventurer who lived from 1821 to 1890. He immediately finds himself leader of a small group of people which includes a prehistoric man, a Victorian woman, and an alien. This afterlife is no heaven, though, as people barely get over the fact that they are alive again before they start fighting each other for the usual reasons humans do.

Burton’s attention turns to the river itself, and he decides to build a boat and find its source, hoping then to find the answers to his questions – Who resurrected them? And why? The answer to this question changes throughout the book as more is revealed and the characters figure things out.

Another significant character is Nazi Hermann Goering who picks up from where he left off on Earth, enslaving Jews and engaging in battle wherever he can find it. The exchanges between Goering and Burton are the highlight of the book. That humankind can be resurrected without changing is a dismal thought, and I think the main theme of this novel. But mankind’s adventurous spirit is also represented as honorable in Burton’s character.

Paul Hecht is a good reader who does well with this material. He was a bit dry at times, but was very listenable and successfully held my attention.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose Farmer

SFFaudio Review

To Your Scattered Bodies Go
by Philip Jose Farmer; Read by Richard Clarke
2 cassettes – 2 hours [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Waldentapes (1985)
Suggested Retail: $14.95 USD
ISBN: 0681327731
Status: Out of Print – RARE
Themes: / Science Fiction / Sci-Fi / Fantasy / Mystery / The Afterlife / History / Series

My biggest problem with this audiobook is that it is over much too quickly. Like most early science fiction audiobooks, this is an abridgement of a novel, in this case a great novel. Philip José Farmer’s To Your Scattered Bodies Go is a Hugo Award winner (for 1972), and this alone makes it worth a look. But the story is intiguing enough to make you wish for more, a lot more.

Set on the huge and mysterious Riverworld, a planet whose central river is the new home to every last soul who ever lived on Earth – from prehistoric apemen to moon-dwelling future civilizations (and even an alien visitor to Earth). Our protagonist is the reborn Sir Richard Francis Burton, famed translator of The Arabian Nights, explorer, brawler, scholar, womanizer and adventurer. His quest? To discover the end of the river, the meaning of this world’s strange existence, where death is a mere inconvenience and food is magically delivered. With such nasty foes like a youthful Hermann Göring and some super evolved aliens called “Ethicals” to deal with, you know its going to be fun. Burton himself is fascinating to follow and I’d like to see if there is a good audiobook biography of him out there. The story itself runs two hours, read by some fellow named Richard Clarke, with a familiar but hard to place English accent. Clarke is backed up by a nicely accenting musical score.

The package is unique to Waldentapes (a line I’m sure we’ll be looking at again) a clear soft plastic case that opens in a very convoluted manner designed for quick sales and low cost it nevertheless has an interesting cover depicting actual events of the novel. While it is long out of print it is not impossible to find, copies turn up on a semi-regular basis on eBay, selling for very reasonable amounts. Since I wished this book was longer, I was happy to find an unabridged version from Recorded Books. Hopefully we will be able to post a review of that version here soon. All in all this is a good find and a valuable addition to any science fiction audiobook collector.