Essay on Meaning of Life Exposed in Riverworld

Essay on Meaning of Life Exposed in Riverworld

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Meaning of Life Exposed in Riverworld

    In the Riverworld series, Philip Jose Farmer grapples with many aspects of human nature.  The series is not about the evolution of humanity, nor mankind's instinctive desire to become dominant over nature.  It is actually about spiritual reformation, and the quest to make oneself a better person.  Through the failure of Samuel Clemens' quest, the triumph of Richard Burton's journey, and the revelation of the purpose behind the creation of Riverworld, Farmer is suggesting that the key to redemption and the purpose of life is to become more ethical.


The Riverworld is a unique place.  The series begins with To Your Scattered Bodies Go, in which all of humanity is resurrected along the banks of a seemingly endless river.  The pattern of resurrection is random, therefore characters are taken out of their familiar settings and placed in a completely alien environment.   Naturally, there is a great deal of confusion and panic as every sentient human being who has ever existed on earth awakens to find themselves on a different planet, and not in heaven or hell. Eventually, this initial commotion is replaced by a phase of settlement, during which the people of Riverworld begin to become more familiar with the many fascinating aspects of the planet.  They soon learn that all of their needs are provided for them, including food, clothing, and in some cases shelter. 


An important feature of Riverworld that Farmer establishes in To Your Scattered Bodies Go is the elimination of death.  By this, Farmer is laying the framework for his suggestion that without anticipation of death, or fear of non-existence, mankind has no incentive to reform.  An example of Farmer'...

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...fe of Sir Richard Francis Burton.  Redburn Burn           Limited.  Great Britain;  1986

"Burton, Sir Richard Francis." Microsoft Encarta.  Funk and Wagnall's Inc.  Copyright   1995 Encyclopaedia Brittanica.  Copyright 1993.

McLynn, Frank.  Of No Country - an Anthology of the Works of Sir Richard Burton.  MacDonald and Co. Ltd.  London;  1990.

Neider, Charles.  A Biography of Mark Twain.  Harper and Row Publishers.  New York; 1959.

"Mark Twain."  Microsoft Encarta.  Funk and Wagnall's Inc.  Copyright 1995



Farmer, Philip Jose.  To Your Scattered Bodies Go.  Berkely Books.  New York;  1971

Farmer, Philip Jose.  The Fabulous Riverboat.  Berkely Books.  New York;  1971

Farmer, Philip Jose.  The Dark Design.  Berkely Books.  New York;  1977

Farmer, Philip Jose.  The Magic Labyrinth.  Berkely Books.  New York;  1980

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