Written in 1978, this book describes an interesting sci-fi universe with a lot of potential, but ultimately the writing wanders and we are left without any real answers when the story ends. Masses of people from Earth and other planets are resurrected from all time periods -- so you have famous historical explorers (Richard Burton) awakening next to Victorian ladies, Neanderthals and aliens from other planets -- all youthful again, naked and hairless with the men circumcised and the women "restored" to a state of virginity, which was a bit creepy. The "Holocaust survivor" in the description is a bit misleading -- it is Hermann Goring, a notable member of the Nazi party. There are some potentially fascinating sci-fi elements -- such as how these billions of people are fed 3 times a day -- but ultimately the story tries to follow too many directions and falls flat. I'm ordering book 2 in the series to see if it improves, but ultimately cannot recommend this title to any but the most enthusiastic of sci-fi fans.
A very absorbing book that makes you ponder about why we are here, and what is soul? I read the whole Riverworld series multiple times about twenty years ago, and found it really fascinating with all the possibilities of humankind being resurrected all at one time on a strange world. After re-reading this book again, the idea is still very interesting, but I think the book is bogged down too much with personal observations and details, so many details, so the story seems a little choppy. You can tell that Philip Jose Farmer really admired the people he made the protagonists in this story and described them very well, but I think all the detail detracts from the story quite a bit. The biggest thing that you can take away from this book is your own ponderings - what would you do, do we have souls that travel the Universe after we die or does life begin and end with the physical body?
All those who ever lived on Earth have found themselves resurrected--healthy, young, and naked as newborns--on the grassy banks of a mighty river, in a world unknown. Miraculously provided with food, but with no clues to the meaning of their strange new afterlife, billions of people from every period of Earth's history--and prehistory--must start again.
Sir Francis Bacon would be the first to glimpse the incredible way-station, a link between worlds. This forbidden sight would spur the renowned 19th-century explorer to uncover the truth. Along with a remarkable group of compatriots, including Alice Liddell Hargreaves (the Victorian girl who was the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland), an English-speaking Neanderthal, a WWII Holocaust survivor, and a wise extraterrestrial, Burton sets sail on the magnificent river. His mission: to confront humankind's mysterious benefactors, and learn the true purpose--innocent or evil--of the Riverworld . . .