The fourth installment in Farmer’s Riverworld series, wherein the source of the alien power that has resurrected all of humanity (we’re like the stock market – one minute we’re down, then we’re up!) on a distant planet is finally discovered. SPOILER ALERT: it was aliens with a resurrection machine. They wanted to test Earthlings’ morality, and we failed said test, scoring just above an immoral species of flatworm from Antares IV which befriends you only so it can bang your sister. Also, the clocks go ahead this weekend, so remember to change the batteries in your spoiler-alerter.

On a scale of famous labyrinths ranging from the Pac Man board to Minotaur’s hideout, this book is: the hedge maze from ‘The Shining’.

RIP, PJF.


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When the Galactic Empire threatens to collapse (Galactic termites in the rafters) the sum knowledge of the universe is taken to a planet which will serve as the ‘Foundation’ of a brand new empire. Y’see how the title ties back to the content? Clever. This book made me realize I hate Isaac Asimov. I’ve always hated him, but I’ve been too afraid of what people would say if they found out, so I pretended to be someone I wasn’t. But now I’m saying it loud: I hate Asimov and I’m proud! Out of the closet and into the streets! But not the street where the store that sells Isaac Asimov’s books is, because his writing is gay! Also, I don’t care for the Beatles.

On a scale Village People members ranging from the cowboy to the construction worker, this book is: the accountant.

ScifiScentury Fun Fact: Isaac Asimov died of AIDS.

Every human who ever lived is resurrected along the banks of a mysterious river where they are fed, clothed and made impervious to death by an outside force beyond comprehension. That’s on page three. From there, the authour pits a reanimated Sir Richard Burton against a revived Hermann Goring as the two of them compete for supremacy and understanding of a paradise that may be anything but. If scifi is a what if? genre, then Farmer is a why not? writer, bound by no convention whatsoever. Recommended, if only for the sheer bravado of subject matter and storytelling.

On a scale of things that come back to life ranging from the African lungfish to Jesus, this book is: zombie John Dillinger.

There was a Farmer wrote a book, and Philip was his name-o.

When Eddie Riceburger created Tarzan, he wanted nothing more than to couch the notion that blacks are cannibalistic savages and whites are the representatives of all things decent and humane in a simple story everyone could enjoy. Nearly a century later, we’re still witnessing the effects of the titular character’s popularity in everything from Ravi Shankar’s hilarious novelty song ‘Sitarzan’, to Tarzan brand nostril groomers (“Because It’s A Jungle In There!”). That being said, this book is boring as hell and hard to follow without a Phil Collins soundtrack.

On a scale of writers with three names ranging from Louisa May Alcott to Bret Easton Ellis, this book is: John Knowles.

Welcome to the jungle! (Seriously. There's vines and stuff.)

Many people confuse this book with John Steinbeck’s East Of Eden, and there are similarities. Like Steinbeck’s work, Harrison’s tale is set on a prehistoric Earth where dinosaurs never went extinct and evolved into sentient creatures that compete with humans for survival. The protagonists of both works ride a triceratops into battle. And both books depict rough reptile-on-human intercourse, which I’m not certain is possible, although I’m not a doctor.

On a scale of technologically advanced reptiles ranging from Mecha Gojira to Bahamut Zero, this book is: cyborg Michigan J. Frog.

"Now we're WEST of Eden? Gimmie that goddamned map!"

Someone call Father Dowling, because this book’s a mystery! I have no idea what it’s about! It takes place in England and has Merlin in it, but after that the authour and I weren’t on the same page….literally! I think it’s the final book in Lewis’s theological Space Trilogy, the events of which follow those of Out Of The Silent Planet and Perelandra (a.k.a. Voyage to Venus) and once again feature the philologist Elwin Ransom. But generally, this book overcooked my noodle and made me feel a little like a Grateful Dead song: Dazed And Confused!

On a scale of puzzled exclamations ranging from ‘What the heck?’ to ‘What the what?’, this book is: ‘What in Sam Hill?’

The title should have been 'That Confusing Book'!

In the far distant future the drug of choice isn’t cocaine or marijuana. It isn’t smack or crank, either. Or acid. Or hash, meth, uppers, downers, reds, blues, scream juice, zqxkj or Ugandan whiz-bang. It’s the Spice, and it’s the central subject of this classic, mind-bending tale of family and political intrigue set on the planet of Arrakis. If you enjoyed Dallas but thought it could use more sandworms, Dune will blow your mind like a double scream juice on the rocks. Recommended.

On a scale of Spice Girls that were kicked out of the group ranging from Ugly Spice to Crusty Spice, this book is: Weepy Lesion Spice.

Dune-de-Frank-Herbert

This is an outdated cover. Nowadays, most sandworms are circumcised.