is a novel series by Philip Jose Farmer
detailing the adventures of humanity in a world reshaped into one long river-valley. All humans that have ever been born are mysteriously restored to life with a body in its prime, and left to live in this world. There are no ores to make tools more advanced than Paleolithic, so humans are incapable of getting to the other side of the mountains that block the sides of the river. Humans that are killed awaken the next day somewhere else on the river.The novels are told from the perspective of different characters, the first is centered around Sir Richard Francis Burton and the second; Samuel Langhorn Clemens
.The books, in order, are:
- "The Day of the Great Shout" (1965) (Novella)
- "The Suicide Express" (1966) (Novella. The novellas were later combined into the first book.)
- To Your Scattered Bodies Go (1971)
- The Fabulous Riverboat (1971)
- The Dark Design (1977)
- The Magic Labyrinth (1980)
- Gods of Riverworld (1983)
These were followed by a pair of anthologies, featuring short stories by Farmer and a variety of other authors.
- Tales of Riverworld (1993)
- Quest To Riverworld (1993)
There was also a GURPS
setting adapting the novels (copies of it were given to the writers of the anthology stories as references), a video game and two adaptations on the SyFy
Channel. Aside from the basic concepts, neither had much to do with the original.
- Alien Sky
- Actual Pacifist: Many of the Second Chancers
- All Cavemen Were Neanderthals: Played straight with Kaz, but averted with Joe.
- Anti-Hero: Burton is kind of a bastard at times.
- And I Must Scream: How Star Spoon punishes her rapists
- Army of the Ages: Nearly any military force in the series is this trope, by its very nature.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: What the Second Chancers and Ethicals believe happens to wathans that "Go On".
- The Atoner: Goring
- Author Avatar: Recurring character Peter Jairus Frigate (note the initials), who is, of course, a writer of science fiction who was defrauded by a publisher no less. Rather than being idealised, Peter is scared of fighting; a bit of a weenie compared to the rock-ribbed Burton.
- Axe Crazy: Star Spoon, but she has a hell of a Freudian Excuse
- Bamboo Technology
- Bangsian Fantasy
- Body Backup Drive: When someone died in Riverworld, their wathan (soul) was collected, a new body was created for them and the wathan was released and re-attached to it.
- The Chessmaster: Loga. To a lesser degree, most if not all of the Ethicals.
- Cool Ship: The Not For Hire. Both of them. Aircraft, steam-powered machine guns, etc.
- Culture Clash: Each section has a mix of people from different times and places.
- Dead to Begin With: Prior to the start of the series the main cast is dead.
- Death Is Cheap: The same advanced alien technology which resurrected everyone on Earth who had ever died remains active. Anyone who dies on the Riverworld is brought back to life the next day somewhere else. A few characters use this "Suicide Express" to deliberately, though randomly, explore the Riverworld. Later on, the machinery breaks down.
- Earth That Was: Obliterated by Humanoid Aliens.
- Esperanto, the Universal Language
- Gambit Pileup: Eventually it's revealed that so much has been happening behind the scenes that it's amazing they had room for the scenes.
- Genius Bruiser: Joe Miller is an 800 lb prehistoric "titanthrop" who is the most fearsome warrior in the series. He is also capable of matching wits with his best friend Samuel Clemens and with Cyrano de Bergerac.
- God Guise: Deliberately set up by the Ethicals
- Historical-Domain Character: Richard Burton and Mark Twain are just the tip of the iceberg.
- Humans Are Special: Why Riverworld was created.
- Immortality Begins at Twenty: For those five and over, they grow to the age of 20 and then stay as they are.
- In the Past, Everyone Will Be Famous: The spirit of this trope is present. Every human who has ever lived is resurrected on an alien planet, upwards of 10 billion people, and yet the protagonists keep running into notable historical figures, like Alice Liddel, Hermann Göring, and Mark Twain.
- Knight Templar: Loga
- Lady of War: Tomoe Gozen, eventually Alice Pleasance Liddell (!) in the books
- Literary Allusion Title: To Your Scattered Bodies Go (from John Donne's "Holy Sonnet VII")
- Loads and Loads of Characters
- The Masquerade: Ethical agents
- Metal Poor Planet: The Riverworld was designed this way to help the human race concentrate on spiritual things. Until a meteor hits.
- Mushroom Samba: Dreamgum
- Non-Human Sidekick: Joe Miller is of an undiscovered hominid species called Titanthrops.
- Our Souls Are Different: The soul is an artificial construct implanted by Applied Phlebotinum, recording one's life, memories, and existence to allow people to reincarnate on the eponymous Riverworld, eons later, and work their way to some kind of Redemption/Ascension/Crystal Dragon Nirvana. One striking scene shows a a holding vat holding thousands of souls: this is metaphysics meeting mass manufacture. Imagine: machinery handling souls like a billion ghostly coke bottles on a production line. In a supreme irony there is no proof for the final afterlife: the spirit engineers are profoundly religious.
- Patchwork Story: As mentioned above, To Your Scattered Bodies Go started its life as a pair of novellas.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits
- Secret Test of Character: Riverworld's true purpose was to give all of humanity a second chance since the best of humanity proves them worthy of joining a long line of alien creators, yet the worst of humanity proves them unworthy of such an honor.
- Saintly Church: The Church of the Second Chance
- Sea Monster: Riverdragons
- Significant Monogram: Peter Jairus Frigate.
- Sufficiently Advanced Aliens
- Take That! - when Frigate settles his score with the publisher who cheated him. Farmer's snipe at the publishing industry.
- Technology Levels
The Sci Fi Channel
made two pilots for a possible television series — one in 2003, the other in 2010.
- Big Bad: Emperor Nero in the first adaptation, and Francisco Pizarro in the second. Given that King John is just a walk-on role in Robin Hood to most Americans this isn't surprising.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Pizarro in the 2010 version has to be reminded that he killed Dan, when Deb tries to kill him.
- The Chessmaster
Ellman: Is this another one of their chess games?
Male Ethereal: (appearing) Chess. One of my favourites.
Female Ethereal: (appearing) Mine too.
Male Ethereal: Your move.
Female Ethereal: No. (indicates Ellman) His.
- Colony Drop: What causes The End of the World as We Know It in 2003.
- Cool Boat: Averted in 2010; obviously it would be impractical to construct a huge paddlesteamer/aircraft carrier with Steam Punk machine-guns, but would it kill them to mock up some armor and gatling turrets, as opposed to a small black powder cannon and sandbags?
- Death Equals Redemption: The suicide bomber in the 2010 version, responsible for killing all of the protagonists, later redeems herself by helping Matt escape, at the cost of her own life.
- Evil Brit: Burton is made the villain of the 2010 movie, even though he's the hero of the novels!
- Femme Fatale: (2010) Allegra. And proud of it.
- Giving Up On Logic: Presumably why in both versions, no-one's particularly fazed for very long upon discovering they're back from the dead, young again in some cases, or that the world was destroyed by aliens.
- Gladiator Games: (2003) Nero is captured and placed in the arena to fight to the death. Unfortunately he's in his element (not quite true as Nero entered the arena to race chariots) and not only quickly defeats his opponent, but also the local Big Bad, taking his throne. In the 2010 movie Burton thinks this is the true purpose of Riverworld.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: For Battlestar Galactica fans — Helo and Gaeta.
- For the 2010 adaptation, Methos is Sir Richard Francis Burton.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: Burton is made the villain of the 2010 movie, even though he's the hero of the novels!
- Mechanical Horse: Pizarro rides a horse, an animal which didn't exist in Riverworld in the novels. But when the horse is 'killed' they see it's flesh has been cut open to reveal robot parts.
- Mind Rape: In addition to the waterboarding, Matt Ellman is tortured by having visions of his beloved Jessie having sex with Burton beamed into his head.
- Naked on Revival: Averted in 2010 where everyone crawls out of the river in the clothes they died in, but not in the first adaptation.
- Nietzsche Wannabe: Burton.
"If you had seen what I'd seen, your eyes would be dead too."
- Scenery Porn
- Storming the Castle: The 2010 movie has a scene involving jumping from a burning zeppelin onto the deck of the Not for Hire to battle Burton's men. The sequence is rather underwhelming.
- Suicide Attack: A female suicide bomber kills the protagonist in the 2010 adaptation. She is not happy when she wakes up in the afterlife and discovers it's full of infidels.
- Too Dumb to Live: Dan in the 2010 movie, to the point where you can't really disagree with Pizarro's later comment that he finds Americans rather arrogant. Seriously, what kind of moron walks up to a bunch of heavily armed conquistadors, hellbent on flaunting their law degree at them?
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Burton (perhaps unintentionally) comes across as this, since he's basically right about the Riverworld being a giant game for someone else's amusement and no-one ever presents a valid counterargument to the question of why they should save it?