The Fabulous Riverboat, p.1Philip José Farmer
Riverworld02- The Fabulous Riverboat (1971)
Philip Jose Farmer
Tags: Science Fiction
* * *
* * *
In To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip José Farmer introduces readers to the awesome Riverworld, a planet that had been carved into one large river on whose shores all of humanity throughout the ages has seemingly been resurrected. In The Fabulous Riverboat, Farmer tells the tale of one person whose is uniquely suited to find the river's headwaters, riverboat captain and famous Earthly author Sam Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain). Clemens has been visited by "X," a mysterious being who claims to be a rebel among the group that created Riverworld. X tells Clemens where he can find a large deposit of iron and other materials that Clemens can use to build the greatest riverboat ever seen. Since there is virtually no metal on the planet, it will also give Clemens an unbeatable edge when it comes to battling the various warlike societies that dominate the Riverworld.
But Clemens is not alone in his quest for the iron, which arrives on the planet in the form of a giant meteorite. In fact, Clemens is besieged on all sides by forces determined to seize the precious ore, leading him to make a deadly pact with one of history's most notorious villains, John Lackland. Lackland's crimes during his reign as king of England were so hideous that no other English monarch will ever carry his name, and he's up to equally nefarious tricks on Riverworld. However, Clemens has a guardian angel in the form of Joe Miller, a giant subhuman with a big nose, a serious lisp, and a cutting wit. Miller has also been to the very headwaters of the river, where he saw a mysterious tower in the middle of the North Sea and where the creators of Riverworld are thought to reside. He will be an invaluable ally in completing the riverboat and sailing to the headwaters, but even an 800-pound giant may not be enough to help Clemens fulfill X's mission. -
Resurrected on the lush, mysterious banks of Riverworld, along with the rest of humanity, Samuel Langhorne Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) has a dream: to build a riverboat that will rival the most magnificent paddle-wheelers ever navigated on the mighty Mississippi. Then, to steer it up the endless waterway that dominates his new home planet--and at last discover its hidden source.
But before he can carry out his plan, he first must undertake a dangerous voyage to unearth a fallen meteor. This mission would require striking an uneasy alliance with the bloodthirsty Viking Erik Bloodaxe, treacherous King John of England, legendary French swordsman Cyrano de Bergerac, Greek adventurer Odysseus, and the infamous Nazi Hermann Göring. All for the purpose of storming the ominous stone tower at the mouth of the river, where the all-powerful overseers of Riverworld--and their secrets--lie in wait . . .
Biography From Wikipedia - Philip José Farmer
Born: January 26, 1918, Terre Haute, Indiana, USA
Died: February 25, 2009 (aged 91), Peoria, Illinois, USA
Philip José Farmer (January 26, 1918 – February 25, 2009) was an American author, principally known for his award-winning science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories.
Farmer is best known for his sequences of novels, especially the World of Tiers (1965–93) and Riverworld (1971–83) series. He is noted for the pioneering use of sexual and religious themes in his work, his fascination for, and reworking of, the lore of celebrated pulp heroes, and occasional tongue-in-cheek pseudonymous works written as if by fictional characters. Farmer often mixed real and classic fictional characters and worlds and real and fake authors as epitomized by his Wold Newton family group of books. These tie all classic fictional characters together as real people and blood relatives resulting from an alien conspiracy. Such works as The Other Log of Phileas Fogg (1973) and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life (1973) are early examples of literary mashup.
Literary critic Leslie Fiedler compared Farmer to Ray Bradbury as both being "provincial American eccentrics" ... who... "strain at the classic limits of the [science fiction] form", but found Farmer distinctive in that he "manages to be at once naive and sophisticated in his odd blending of theology, pornography, and adventure".
Farmer was born in North Terre Haute, Indiana. According to colleague Frederik Pohl, his middle name was in honor of an aunt, Josie. Farmer grew up in Peoria, Illinois, where he attended Peoria High School. His father was a civil engineer and a supervisor for the local power company. A voracious reader as a boy, Farmer said he resolved to become a writer in the fourth grade. He became an agnostic at the age of 14. At age 23, in 1941, he married and eventually fathered a son and a daughter. After washing out of flight training in World War II, he went to work in a local steel mill. He continued his education, however, earning a bachelor’s degree in English from Bradley University in 1950.
Farmer had his first literary success in 1952 with a novella called The Lovers, about a sexual relationship between a human and an extraterrestrial. It won him the Hugo Award as "most promising new writer", the first of three. Thus encouraged, he quit his job to become a full-time writer, entered a publisher’s contest, and promptly won the $4,000 first prize for a novel that contained the germ of his later Riverworld series. The book was not published and Farmer did not get the money. Literary success did not translate into financial security, and in 1956 he left Peoria to launch a career as a technical writer. He spent the next 14 years working in that capacity for various defense contractors, from Syracuse, New York to Los Angeles, California, while writing science fiction in his spare time.
He won a second Hugo after the publication of his 1967 novella Riders of the Purple Wage, a pastiche of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake as well as a satire on a futuristic, cradle-to-grave welfare state. Reinvigorated, Farmer became a full-time writer again in 1969. Upon moving back to Peoria in 1970, he entered his most prolific period, publishing 25 books in 10 years. His novel To Your Scattered Bodies Go (a reworked, previously unpublished version of the prize-winning first novel of 20 years before) won him his third Hugo in 1971. A 1975 novel, Venus on the Half-Shell, created a stir in the larger literary community and media. It purported to be written in the first person by one “Kilgore Trout”, a fictional character appearing as an underappreciated science fiction writer in several of Kurt Vonnegut’s novels. The escapade did not please Vonnegut when some reviewers not only concluded that it had been written by Vonnegut himself, but that it was a worthy addition to his works. Farmer did have permission from Vonnegut to write the book, though Vonnegut later said he regretted giving permission.
Farmer had both critical champions and detractors. Leslie Fiedler proclaimed him "the greatest science fiction writer ever" and lauded his approach to storytelling as a “gargantuan lust to swallow down the whole cosmos, past, present and to come, and to spew it out again”. Isaac Asimov praised Farmer as an "excellent science fiction writer; in fact, a far more skillful writer than I am...." But Christopher Lehmann-Haupt described him in The New York Times in 1972 as “a humdrum toiler in the fields of science fiction”.
Farmer died on February 25, 2009. At the time of his death, he and his wife Bette had two children, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
The Riverworld series follows the adventures of such diverse characters as Richard Burton, Hermann Göring, and Samuel Clemens through a bizarre afterlife in which every human ever to have lived is simultaneously resurrected along a single river valley that stretches over an entire planet. The series consists of To Your Scattered Bodies Go (1971), The Fabulous Riverboat (1971), The Dark Design (1977), The Magic Labyrinth (1980) and Gods of Riverworld (1983). Although Riverworld and Other Stori
The first two Riverworld books were originally published as novellas, "The Day of the Great Shout" and "The Suicide Express", and as a two-part serial, "The Felled Star", in the science fiction magazines Worlds of Tomorrow and If between 1965 and 1967. The separate novelette "Riverworld" ran in Worlds of Tomorrow in January 1966. A final pair of linked novelettes appeared in the 1990s: "Crossing the Dark River" (in Tales of Riverworld, 1992) and "Up the Bright River" (in Quest to Riverworld, 1993). Farmer introduced himself into the series as Peter Jairus Frigate (PJF).
The Riverworld series originated in a novel, Owe for the Flesh, written in one month in 1952 as a contest entry. It won the contest, but the book was left unpublished and orphaned when the prize money was misappropriated, and Farmer nearly gave up writing altogether. The original manuscript of the novel was lost, but years later Farmer reworked the material into the Riverworld magazine stories mentioned above. Eventually, a copy of a revised version of the original novel surfaced in a box in a garage and was published as River of Eternity by Phantasia Press in 1983. Farmer's Introduction to this edition gives the details of how it all happened.
World of Tiers series
The series is set within a number of artificially constructed parallel universes, created tens of thousands of years ago by a race of human beings who had achieved an advanced level of technology which gave them almost godlike power and immortality. The principal universe in which these stories take place, and from which the series derives its name, consists of an enormous tiered planet, shaped like a stack of disks or squat cylinders, of diminishing radius, one atop the other. The series follows the adventures of several of these godlike humans and several "ordinary" humans from Earth who accidentally travel to these artificial universes. (One of those "ordinary" humans was Kickaha, real name Paul Janus Finnegan (PJF) who becomes the main protagonist in the series.) The series consists of The Maker of Universes (1965), The Gates of Creation (1966), A Private Cosmos (1968), Behind the Walls of Terra (1970), The Lavalite World (1977) and More Than Fire (1993). Roger Zelazny has mentioned that The World of Tiers was something he had in his mind when he created his Amber series. A related novel is Red Orc's Rage (1991), which does not involve the principal characters of the other books directly, but does provide background information to certain events and characters portrayed in the other novels. This is the most "psychological" of Farmer's novels.
This book was
copied right, in
the dark, by
TITLE: The Fabulous Riverboat
AUTHOR: Farmer, Philip José
ABEB Version: 3.0
* * *
"Resurrection, like politics, makes strange bedfellows," Sam Clemens said. "I can't say that the sleeping is very restful."
Telescope under one arm, he puffed on a long, green cigar while he paced back and forth on the poop deck of the Dreyrugr (Bloodstained). Ari Grimolfsson, the helmsman, not understanding English, looked bleakly at Clemens. Clemens translated for him in wretched Old Norse. The helmsman still looked bleak.
Clemens loudly cursed him in English for a dunderheaded barbarian. For three years, Clemens had been practicing tenth-century Norse night and day. And he was still only half intelligible to most of the men and women aboard the Dreyrugr.
"A ninety-five-year-old Huck Finn, give or take a few thousand years," Clemens said, "I start out down The River on a raft. Now I'm on this idiot Viking ship, going upRiver. What next? When will I realize my dream?"
Keeping the upper part of his right arm close to his body so he would not drop the precious telescope, he pounded his right fist into his open left palm.
"Iron! I need iron! But where on this people-rich, metal-poor planet is iron? There has to be some! Otherwise, where did Erik's ax come from? And how much is there? Enough? Probably not. Probably there's just a very small meteorite. But maybe there's enough for what I want. But where? My God, The River may be twenty million miles long! The iron, if any, may be at the other end.
"No, that can't be! It has to be somewhere not too far away, within 100,000 miles of here. But we may be going in the wrong direction. Ignorance, the mother of hysteria, or is it vice versa?"
He looked through the telescope at the right bank and cursed again. Despite his pleas to bring the ship in so that he could scan the faces at a closer range, he had been refused. The king of the Norseman fleet, Erik Bloodaxe, said that this was hostile territory. Until the fleet was out of it, the fleet would stay close to the middle of The River.
The Dreyrugr was the flagship of three, all alike. It was eighty feet long, built largely of bamboo and resembled a Viking dragon boat. It had a long low hull, an oak figurehead carved into a dragon's head, and a curled-tail stern. But it also had a raised foredeck and poop deck, the sides of both extending out over the water. The two bamboo masts were fore-and-aft rigged. The sails were a very thin but tough and flexible membrane made from the stomach of the deep-dwelling "riverdragon" fish. There was also a rudder controlled by a wheel on the poop deck.
The round leather-and-oak shields of the crew hung over the sides; the great oars were piled on racks. The Dreyrugr was sailing against the wind, tacking back and forth, a maneuver unknown to the Norsemen when they had lived on Earth.
The men and women of the crew not handling the ropes sat on the oarsmen benches and talked and threw dice and played poker. From below the poop deck came cries of excitation or curses and an occasional faint click. Bloodaxe and his bodyguard were shooting pool, and their doing so at this time made Clemens very nervous. Bloodaxe knew that enemy ships three miles up The River were putting out to intercept them, and ships from both banks behind them were putting out to trail them. Yet the king was pretending to be very cool. Maybe he was actually as undisturbed as Drake had supposedly been just before the battle of the Great Armada.
"But the conditions are different here," Clemens muttered. "There's not much room to maneuver on a river only a mile and a half wide. And no storm is going to help us out."
He swept the bank with the telescope as he had been doing ever since the fleet set out three years ago. He was of medium height and had a big head that made his none-too-broad shoulders look even more narrow. His eyes were blue; his eyebrows, shaggy; his nose, Roman. His hair was long and reddish brown. His face was innocent of the mustache that had been so well known during his terrestrial life. (Men had been resurrected without face hair.) His chest was a sea of brown-red curly hair that lapped at the hollow of his throat. He wore only a knee-length white towel secured at the waist, a leather belt for holding weapons and the sheath for his telescope, and leather slippers. His skin was bronzed by the equatorial sun.
He removed the telescope from his eye to look at the enemy ships trailing by a mile. As he did so, he saw something flash in the sky. It was a curving sword of white, appearing suddenly as if unsheathed from the blue. It sta
Sam was startled. He had seen many small meteorites in the night sky but never a large one. Yet this daytime giant set his eyes afire and left an afterimage on his eyes for a second or two. Then the image faded, and Sam forgot about the falling star. He scanned the bank again with his telescope.
This part of The River had been typical. On each side of the mile and a half wide River was a mile and a half wide grass-grown plain. On each bank, huge mushroom-shaped stone structures, the grailstones, were spaced a mile apart. Trees were few on the plains, but the foothills were thick with pine, oak, yew and the irontree. This was a thousand foot high plant with gray bark, enormous elephant-ear leaves, hundreds of thick gnarly branches, roots so deep and wood so hard that the tree could not be cut, burned or dug out. Vines bearing large flowers of many bright colors grew over their branches.
There was a mile or two of foothills, and then the abruptness of smooth-sided mountains, towering from 20,000 to 30,000 feet, unscalable past the 10,000 foot mark.
The area through which the three Norse boats were sailing was inhabited largely by early nineteenth-century Germans. There was the usual ten percent population from another place and time of Earth. Here, the ten percent was first-century Persians. And there was also the ubiquitous one percent of seemingly random choices from any time and any place.
The telescope swung past the bamboo huts on the plains and the faces of the people. The men were clad only in various towels; the women, in short towel-like skirts and thin cloths around the breasts. There were many gathered on the bank, apparently to watch the battle. They carried flint-tipped spears and bows and arrows but were not in martial array.
Clemens grunted suddenly and held the telescope on the face of a man. At this distance and with the weak power of the instrument, he could not clearly see the man's features. But the wide-shouldered body and dark face suggested familiarity. Where had he seen that face before?
The Fabulous Riverboat by Philip José Farmer / Science Fiction / Fantasy have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes