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jeff ford
Posted on Sunday, September 14, 2003 - 09:29 pm:   

Just started reading Riverworld to my eleven year old son. We haven't read anything together since before the summer when we read The Baron in the Trees. We were looking around for something to read during the school year that would take us to Christmas. I had the first two volumes of Farmer's Riverworld (what is it, trilogy, tetrology?) We started the first book and have done a few chapters so far. We got Richard Burton (the explorer) coming back from the dead, young, bald and naked, along with a poozle of other bald, naked people along a river bank lined with giant stone mushrooms. Also, the first two fellows he hits it off with are an alien who came to earth in the far future year of 2002 and a cave man. The writing seems just a tad clunky, and some things are repeated a lot, but really, so far, so good. It's pretty trippy. My kid digs it. Has anyone else read these books? Am I in for a good time? How many are there all together? No spoilers please!

Best,


Jeff
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Luís
Posted on Sunday, September 14, 2003 - 11:14 pm:   

Hi Jeff: It's a pentalogy. Never got that far, I eventually lost interest in the middle of book four . . . I hear book five is atrocious, and by the way things were going, I have little reason to doubt it.

First two books are top-notch, though, and the whole concept is brilliant.

Best,
Luís
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Luís
Posted on Sunday, September 14, 2003 - 11:32 pm:   

Er, one caveat: I read these when I was about your kid's age, in ever lovely Argonauta editions. Since I also enjoyed Dragonlance tie-ins at the time, you'd do well to go for a second opinion. :-)

And yeah, I know . . . Dragonlance . . . I was young, I needed books . . .

Best,
Luís
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 04:58 am:   

We've all had our youthful indiscretions, Luis.
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John Klima
Posted on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 06:06 am:   

My aunt bought these books for me when I was about 13-15, and I loved them then, but only got through book #3 and partway into #4 and couldn't keep my interest. I still have mine and have always intended on going back and reading them.

Again, like Luis, I was reading Piers Anthony's BIO OF A SPACE TYRANT and devouring those like they would earn me money.

JK
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 07:36 am:   

I remember feeling about RIVERWORLD what I felt about Zelazny's AMBER series, but even more so and even faster, that the wonder got dispersed in a general pointlessness. Almost thirty years ago I read NINE PRINCES IN AMBER to a young relative. He liked it and I loved doing it.
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Rhys
Posted on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 09:45 am:   

Try getting hold of the original RIVERWORLD novelette too. The novelette was one of Farmer's best lengths and it's a great read and a good companion to the novels.

My favourite work of Farmer's is undoubtedly his WORLD OF TIERS series, which is also a pentalogy. The last two books are sort of tangential to the first three, but it's a stunning series, flawed by still spectacular and inspiring.

Well that's what I think anyway!
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jeff ford
Posted on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 10:01 am:   

Luis, Rick, John & Rhys: Thanks for the feedback. It looks like probably the first three books are worth the time. I did a little reading up on the series in the meantime and found that the fifth book which everyone pretty much bags on, was kind of an afterthought on Farmer's part, a way to make some dough. I'll look for the novelette. And Luis, you had Dragon Lance books, and back when I was starting out reading adult stuff, we had Doc Savage. I probably couldn't read it now without cracking, but back then it was the BOMB! I think as long as my son, Derek, stays interested, we'll keep going with it. As an adult reader, like Rick says, you can overlook a lot of things you wouldn't be into, if the kid is digging the story.

Best,

Jeff
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 11:18 am:   

It renews the old sense of wonder. And since we're in the Wonder business(Personaly, I wake up every morning wondering why I'm in this business) that's got to be good.

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GabrielM
Posted on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 12:10 pm:   

I used to read those Doc Savage paperbacks by Kenneth Robeson myself. (Was he a real person or one of made up names used to cover a moving stream of ghost writers, like "Franklin W. Dixon"?) I'll say this for them -- they really had some kickass covers.
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S. Hamm
Posted on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 02:05 pm:   

GabrielM,

"Kenneth Robeson" was usually, but not always, Lester Dent. The original cover artist for the Bantam reprints was Western painter James Bama.

Jeff,

I'll be Ham. You be Monk.
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jeff ford
Posted on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 03:51 pm:   

Loved those Savage covers. Doesn't the name Lester Dent surface in a movie somewhere?
I just pulled a volume of Doc Savage off the shelf, here's the plot blurb: Menaced by "the strange clicking danger," Doc Savage and his fabulous five-man army take a desperate journey on a polar submarine in search of a missing ocean liner and a dazzling treasure. Thier only clue is a map tattooed on the back of a blind violinist. Awaiting them at their destination is the most terrible killer the Arctic has ever known.
The cover is of Doc falling backwards off the edge of a cliff while the biggest fucking polar bear you could conceive of rears up on its hind legs on the cliff's edge.

Sam: If I was Monk. this would be my write up: "Monk," only a few inches over five foot tall, and yet over 260 pounds. His brutish exterior concealed the mind of a great scientist.

And Ham, I guess was the guy with the big fists?
or was he the lawyer guy?

Man, they don't make em like they used to.

Best,

Jeff
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Thomas R
Posted on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 04:56 pm:   

I think they did a film version awhile back, but I hear it was dreadful. That and reading to/with your kid is cool. Recommending SF for me was one of the few things that got me close to my Dad when young. (I don't recommend it being the only thing of course)
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Claude Lalumičre
Posted on Tuesday, September 16, 2003 - 06:53 am:   

Jeff et al.:
The Riverworld novellete is indeed of one Farmer's best. It's in RIVERWORLD AND OTHER STORIES. An excellent collection.
Re: Doc Savage: I read everything I could get my hands on when I was a kid. Loved the Bama covers.
And, yes, that film version was atrocious.
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BrianO
Posted on Tuesday, September 16, 2003 - 11:05 am:   

There was some talk recently about Frank Darabont doing a Doc Savage movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger starring. I think it was just idle talk by Darabont though.

I love those novels, they're great fun. And yeah, Jeff, Ham was the thin lawyer guy who always carried a cane with a sword hidden inside.

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jeff ford
Posted on Tuesday, September 16, 2003 - 09:00 pm:   

Thomas: I've actually seen that film with the great Ron Ely as The Man of Bronze -- a huge stinker, for sure.

Claude: I'll check out the novella. I think either Lou or GabeM mentioned it upstream a way. I can see how this material would play better in a more condensed form. One of the problems is that the early chapters seem drawn out. Thanks!

Brian: Thanks for the word up on Ham. I got confused because I was thinking of the term Ham Fisted in relation to the guy who liked to crash doors down with his fists.

For anyone interested, I have a Doc Savage homage, of a sort, that was first published in Alex Irvine's Journal of Pulse Pounding Narratives and then reprinted in Claude and Marty Halpern's Witpunk called Doc Agressive, Man of Tin. It's one whole sentence long. Witpunk, by the way, just got a great review over on SF SITE. Congrat's Claude.
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Thomas R
Posted on Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - 03:55 pm:   

I've actually seen that film with the great Ron Ely as The Man of Bronze -- a huge stinker, for sure.
______________
TR: Guess missing it was no loss then. I don't know much on Doc Savage.

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niki angeloff
Posted on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 11:14 pm:   

Hi all
I would like to ask if someone could send me a link where I could download the Riverworld series. I have read the WORLD OF TIERS series and really enjoyed it. When I decided to buy Riverworld I understood that this book is not translated and published in Bulgaria where I am from. My idea is to translate the book and to send it to my friends and all the people who like SF in Bulgaria for free. Please help me! If someone could send me the books or a link for download please write to niki_angeloff@yahoo.com Thank you!

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jeff ford
Posted on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 12:10 pm:   

Niki: If I'm not mistaken, The Riverworld series would not be on-line anywhere. The books are still in print and I'm pretty sure Farmer is still alive. I think you'd get in legal trouble if you put your own translation of the books out on the internet. I'm by no means an expert on this, so if anyone else can advise here, I'd appreciate it. Good luck in your endeavors.
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Richard Parks
Posted on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 03:46 pm:   

I'm not a lawyer, but it's my understanding that a translation falls under "derivative work" for copyright purposes, and only the copyright holder has the right to approve any such projects. You'd need to get Farmer's permission.
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jeff ford
Posted on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 07:22 pm:   

Thanks, Richard.
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rick bowes
Posted on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 10:33 am:   

It's my understanding that all the former Iron Curtain countries now adhere to international copywright standards. And a non-authorized translation would be illegal.
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rick bowes
Posted on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 10:38 am:   

I was going to add that the legal way would be to buy the rights to produce the books in Bulgaria. I can't imagine that would be a lot of money.
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Luis
Posted on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 07:28 pm:   

From the US Copyright Office:

"A “derivative work,” that is, a work that is based on (or derived from) one or more already existing works, is copyrightable if it includes what the copyright law calls an “original work of authorship.” Derivative works, also known as “new versions,” include such works as translations . . ."

and

"Only the owner of copyright in a work has the right to prepare, or to authorize someone else to create, a new version of that work. The owner is generally the author or someone who has obtained rights from the author."

So you must obtain permission from PJF before you go out and distribute his works in translation (how you distribute them is your own concern, but you have to be granted the right to do so). As Rick pointed out, you may be able to do it for very little money, if you ask nicely and explain your situation.

Best,
Luís
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Lawrence A
Posted on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 04:18 am:   

Farmer seems to be one of the strangest and most unpredictable writers in the speculative fiction field. I have to agree with others here, that the first few books in the RIVERWORLD series were fairly interesting but they lost their way. Farmer could write among the most dreadful SF and among the most interesting and thought-provoking, often in the same story!

He came in for a lot of attacks on the one hand and admiration on the other for writing what may be the first well-known soft-core SF pornographic tale, "The lovers". Have I got the title right?
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jeff ford
Posted on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 04:53 am:   

Lawrence: I really don't know much about Farmer, but from what I do know it seems that his imagination really outpaces his abilities as a writer. The concept of the Riverworld is awesome, but the writing is kind of stiff, or so it seemed to me. His ideas are imaginative to the verge of being just flat out whacky -- which really appeals to me. Never heard of "The Lovers," but thanks for the tip. I'll check it out.
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Minz
Posted on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 07:52 am:   

That's a fairly accurate assessment, Jeff (imnsho).
You should consider tracking down his World of Tiers stories, and you'd probably get a kick out a recent mystery of his, NOTHING BURNS IN HELL. There's an incident with a snapping turtle that's priceless.
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EDatlow
Posted on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 08:23 am:   

Then there's Image of the Beast of which the opening scene is so harrowing I dare any male to read it without flinching ;-)
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rick bowes
Posted on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 11:16 am:   

Jeff:

Yes, great imagination and ,sometimes, in shorter pieces remarkable effect. His RIDERS OF THE PURPLE WAGE in Dangerous Visions caught the mid-6o's in all their flabbergasting wrong-headedness. One problem with him is that his ideas got used more vivedly by others. Reading the Worlds Of Tiers stories after having read Zelazny's Amber(before that went bad) was a distinct let down.
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 12:29 am:   

Certain Farmer stories lodged themselves firmly in my mind from one reading, and nothing will ever dislodge them. Especially "The Voice of the Sonar in my Vermiform Appendix" but also "The Sumerian Oath." If you can find "The Book of Philip Jose Farmer," these and other memorable stories are in it.

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