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To Your Scattered Bodies GoTo Your Scattered Bodies Go first edition

Riverworld / To Your Scattered Bodies Go

Novels, 1971–1983
Novels in series

To Your Scattered Bodies Go, 1971

The Fabulous Riverboat, 1971

The Dark Design, 1977

The Magic Labyrinth, 1980

Gods of Riverworld, 1983

Riverworld (2010) scene
Alan Cumming is a blue alien helping a former journalist (Tehmot Penikett) in 2010 Riverworld mini-series.

Riverworld

including To Your Scattered Bodies Go

THE NOVELS | THE MOVIES

2003, 2010

Up river with the Blue Man Group

Riverworld (2010): Television mini-series, director Stuart Guillard; writer Robert Hewitt Wolfe, Randall M. Badat, Hans Beimler; featuring Tahmot Penikett, Alan Cumming, Mark Deklin, Peter Wingfield, Jeananne Goossen

Mark Deklin as Clemens in Riverworld
Mark Deklin as Clemens in Riverworld.

Much different, the U.S.-Canadian rebooting of Riverworld for TV in 2010.

Instead of the wilds of New Zealand, the wilds of British Columbia are the location. Instead of the hero being explorer Richard Burton (as in the novels) or an American astronaut (as in the 2003 TV attempt), he's now an American journalist, who yearns to find his all-American, bubble-headed girlfriend.

In place of warrior princess Loghu or Mali, we have warrior princess Tomoe.

Instead of Hermann Göring or King John or Emperor Nero, the bad guy is conquistador Francisco Pizarro.... Why? I don't know, maybe the producers thought they could get the rights to the Procol Harum song for the soundtrack.

But, wait, Burton is back in play after all. Though now he's kind of a bad guy.

The one constant is Samuel Clemens. But his story is so truncated that we never see him get his team together, build his boat, or engage in all those intrigues that were so absorbing in the novels. He just appears on the scene to join up with the American journalist and promptly lose his boat to Pizarro.

But at least in this short series, the good guys win through to reach the tower at the head of the river, something that doesn't happen until the fourth novel, where they solve the mystery of Riverworld.

I think they solve it. Hard to tell. Nothing is worked out very clearly in this jerky three-and-a-half-hour film. Time is always jumping ahead—I suspect whenever the producers run out of money to actually film what's supposed to happen in-between.

But it is a passable time-waster. Actor Tehmot Penikett (from Battlestar Galactica) is okay as the rugged American hero. Mark Deklin is a young, good-looking Clemens, maybe too young and good looking. And Peter Wingfield is overly villainous as Burton, all glaring eyes and curling lips, but that's the role they've given him.


Trailer for the 2010 TV remake of Riverworld, that revised the novel drastically.

The standout is Jeananne Goossen, whom I've never heard of before, as a Japanese female samurai fighter. Smart, sexy and strong, now there's a woman our hero should hook up with.

The aliens who create Riverworld, represented by the usually terific Alan Cumming, are the biggest disappointments. I was just thinking they looked and acted like rejects from the Blue Man Group—when our hero made the same reference to them. Just not mysterious enough, more like bickering kids playing with their human toys.

Through five books and two movies, I'm still not sure what they're on about.

— Eric McMillan

THE NOVELS | THE MOVIES

2003, 2010