Read The Dark Design by Philip José Farmer Online


Years have passed on Riverworld. Entire nations have risen, and savage wars have been fought--all since the dead of Earth found themselves resurrected in their magnificent new homeworld. Yet the truth about the Ethicals, the powerful engineers of this mysterious "afterlife," remains unknown. But a curious cross-section of humanity is determined to change that situation . .Years have passed on Riverworld. Entire nations have risen, and savage wars have been fought--all since the dead of Earth found themselves resurrected in their magnificent new homeworld. Yet the truth about the Ethicals, the powerful engineers of this mysterious "afterlife," remains unknown. But a curious cross-section of humanity is determined to change that situation . . . at any cost.Intrepid explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton leads the most remarkable voyage of discovery he has ever undertaken. Hot on his heels are Samuel Clemens, King John of England, and Cyrano de Bergerac. Spurred by the promise of ultimate answers, they chart a course across the vast polar sea--and toward the awesome tower that looms above it. But getting there will be more than half the battle. For death on Riverworld has become chillingly final . . ....

Title : The Dark Design
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780345419699
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 464 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Dark Design Reviews

  • Bettie☯
    2019-06-16 06:59

    And still the Weaver plies his loom, whose warp and woof is wretched ManWeaving th' unpattern'd dark design, so dark we doubt it owns a plan.--Richard Francis Burton 'The Kasîdah of Hâjî Abdû El-Yezdî'Revisit 2015 via audio file 18:03:27Description: Years have passed on Riverworld. Entire nations have risen, and savage wars have been fought--all since the dead of Earth found themselves resurrected in their magnificent new homeworld. Yet the truth about the Ethicals, the powerful engineers of this mysterious "afterlife," remains unknown. But a curious cross-section of humanity is determined to change that situation . . . at any cost.Intrepid explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton leads the most remarkable voyage of discovery he has ever undertaken. Hot on his heels are Samuel Clemens, King John of England, and Cyrano de Bergerac. Spurred by the promise of ultimate answers, they chart a course across the vast polar sea--and toward the awesome tower that looms above it. But getting there will be more than half the battle. For death on Riverworld has become chillingly final . . .We open with Burton in front of The Twelve, the Ethicals, whom I prefer to call F-icals. He has been investigated because of his 777 deaths on the Suicide Express.There is a ::lot:: going on in this book and although it is baggier than the first two books the story is not (yet?)out of control. Main point is that there are no more reincarnations - you die, you stay dead. Truly exciting storyline dotted with some scathing philosophy and home truths. Highly recommended for those who like to stop and think.It's this third installment of the series where there is an opportunity to roll that lusciuous noun around the mouth:dirigible, DIRIGIBLE, DIRIGIBLE and finally we meet a strong woman in the shape of Australian Jill Gulbirra.Pharoah ImhotepRichard BurtonSam ClemensTom MixJack LondonCyrano de BergeracFrom wiki: The second storyline follows the real Peter Jairus Frigate. Unaware that an alien agent has been posing as himself, this Frigate, whose life story is identical in most respects to the one which the false Frigate told, has been living an ordinary life along the river.5* To Their Scattered Bodies Go5* The Fabulous Riverboat (Riverworld, #2)5* The Dark Design (Riverworld, #3)The Magic Labyrinth (Riverworld, #4)The Gods of Riverworld (Riverworld #5)

  • Manny
    2019-06-20 08:14

    (To the tune of Monty Python's "I like traffic lights". See for example this YouTube version)I like RiverworldI like RiverworldI like RiverworldThat you can bet your shirt onHe likes RiverworldHe likes RiverworldHe likes RiverworldAlthough he's Richard Burton(with somewhat less enthusiasm)I like RiverworldI like RiverworldI like RiverworldBut life can hand you lemonsHe likes RiverworldHe likes RiverworldHe likes RiverworldAlthough he's Samuel Clemens(very slowly, as we start on the third volume)I like RiverworldI like RiverworldI like RiverworldI like RiverworldI like Riverworld(in tones of sudden, abject despair) ... oh God...

  • Jan-Maat
    2019-05-31 10:22

    I'm pretty sure that this was the volume I read, it's hard to tell after reading the reviews. The problem is that it is a multi-volume science-fiction saga of which I only read one part. Not because it was bad...on the contrary it was fun.The story follows different point of view characters reincarnated or possibly resurrected or even reconstructed from human history as they journey along a great river trying to find out why humanity has been reincarnated (or resurrected etc) on this strange planet that seems to consist of one very long and winding river valley (or a very narrow sea).These characters include people like King John of England, Mark Twain, and Richard Burton (not the actor the other one who translated the Arabian Nights and The Perfumed Garden) as well as various invented people.The basic problem with this book was that I have never felt the compulsion to read any more in the series. Having picked up and read a random middle volume simply because it was on sale in a discount book shop for a pound I was satisfied. Perhaps the mystery of why humanity was being recreated in a plant long narrow river valley was resolved, or maybe it wasn't, and I can live with not knowing. After all, all these writers do is just make stuff up ;)

  • Lauren Donoho
    2019-06-24 09:57

    Not nearly as difficult to get through as Fabulous Riverboat, mostly because of the introduction of a new narrator, Jill Gulbirra, which at least gets us away from the boring, embittered ranting that characterizes Farmer's Sam Clemens as a narrator. There are a number of terribly problematic things about Gulbirra, of course, just like there are incredibly problematic things about basically everything in the Riverworld books. I give Farmer credit for attempting to represent diversity in his books, as he seems well-intentioned, but his white male privilege frequently blinds him to the misogyny and racist caricatures which permeate his writing. Gulbirra's character is more of the same: she's queer, so she's ugly, man-hating, and a feminist, but her feminism is the irrational, reactionary kind that exists only in the minds of its detractors. She evolves throughout the book, and I frankly found her a breath of fresh air in a series where the only female characters with speaking roles are the sexual partners of the actual, male protagonists (none of the Twelve we've encountered thus far are women, you'll note). That being said, this book is exactly like all the others thus far, in that it is huge sections of enormously boring, dry narration and over-exposition juxtaposed with chapters where Burton gets into exciting scraps, which are always glossed over in favor of more exposition. I'm mostly sticking it out because I need some kind of explanation for the central mystery - I want to know who the damn Ethicals are, and I want to know who double-crossed whom, etc etc.

  • Graham Crawford
    2019-06-07 05:04

    Farmer is a very patchy writer. His Big Idea of Riverworld may have set the bar too high. There are some moments of real drama, but these are swamped by huge stretches of boring info-dump. He has far too many characters and only occassionally manages to speak in their voices authentically. A genius could have used this world to compare and contrast ideas and language across all human culture and history. Farmer is not a genius, and spends most of his time typing up wikipedia entries for his favorite historical figures. Each book in this series seems to have been given a social justice topic to discuss. We've had the jews, the blacks, and this one is women's lib. Once again, Farmer basically re-presents existing (superficial) arguments instead of delving deeply into the topic. His Feminist Dirigible pilot Jill Gulbirra comes across as a cardboard comic version of Germaine Greer, and she's the most fleshed out of all the characters.It's not a bad book - but there is a heck of a lot of filler here.

  • Steven
    2019-05-29 11:22

    This is the third book in the Riverworld saga. In the first book, we followed 19th century explorer Richard Burton and his band. In the second book, we followed the story of Mark Twain. in the third book, we read a little about these two, but also focus on several new characters, including Jill, an airship pilot, and a more in-depth focus on Peter Frigate, who appears in the first book but is not a viewpoint character until this one.Overall, this book is longer and more action-packed than the first two. A lot happens, and several plot points advance quite well. However, the book suffers from this as well. There are too many characters, and we switch among them too much. This makes the story unnecessarily hard to follow.Probably the main issue I have with this novel, though, is that it seems to be long just for the sake of being long. Farmer indulges himself in far too much pontificating about historical events and the various philosophical outlooks of the world. It feels, in many places, like he is showing off how much he knows. I'm suitably impressed with his scholarship, but it has, at best, only a tangential relationship to the story of Riverworld. A few times the scholarship is also misplaced -- interrupting the action with long discourses about the Sufi philosophy, for example. Surely this could have been done at another time (or better yet, entirely deleted).There is at least one more book in this series and possibly two -- I know there is a 5th book, but according to Farmer's introduction to Book 3, the series will end on Book 4, and then other books will just contain other stories of the Riverworld (prequels, as it were). I suppose I won't know if that is true or not until the end of book four.This book was fairly good, and it kept me reading, although it took me almost a month to get through, mostly because the long scholarship sections tended to bore me and make me leave it aside for a few days. They were tough to get through. The action scenes were fairly good, on the other hand.Other than scholarship, one issue this book has is that certain secrets have been revealed here, I think, a little too early. If there really are 1-2 more books to go, then certain goals should not have been reached yet, but already were. I won't say any more about it to avoid spoilers, but there is a certain sense of anticlimax at the end here.I have to say, however, that I am still intensely curious about the why of Riverworld -- why every human being on earth, except those who died before they turned 5, was resurrected on one giant world, and how the world was even constructed, and by whom. I very much want to know what all the answers were. Hopefully they will be worth the journey.

  • Erik Graff
    2019-06-19 05:10

    The first three Riverworld books are To Your Scattered Bodies Go, The Fabulous Riverboat and, this, The Dark Design, followed by a fourth, The Magic Labyrinth. I read all four, one right after another, carried on by being very much impressed by the premise of the first: the revivification of everyone along the banks of a single river. The device allowed Farmer to juxtapose the most various persons, many of them important personages. By this volume, however, my interest was beginning to flag.

  • prcardi
    2019-06-13 13:00

    Storyline: 2/5Characters: 3/5Writing Style: 3/5World: 1/5I'm going to lead with the old "it's not you, it's me" introduction, but I'm not being facetious. I started out with unrealistic expectations. I know that now. In the founding book, I picked up on the Grand Idea and the concomitant possibilities. I value wonder and creativity above all else in my readings, and you, Farmer, delivered in To Your Scattered Bodies Go. I should have suspected something then; after all it was only the first few chapters of the first book that had me hooked. The last 70% of the book was something else. I treated that bulk as the anomaly and have been waiting for you to return to your roots. But I had it backward. The big idea and the wonder were the irregularity. The action/adventure with double-crosses and misdirections; that was your routine. And so, The Dark Design, like The Fabulous River Boat before it, is more of the meandering personal adventures of harrowing escapes and discoveries. There's obviously a market for that sort of thing.Farmer seems to have really pushed himself as a writer on this one. He tries a lot variation in personal narratives, shifts between more characters and plots, gives viewpoints from one-off characters and mediums, and staggers the chronology so as to break up the pace. The writing was a definite improvement over the first two books. Substantively, this was essentially the same book as the last. We do start getting a little more interaction between characters and Farmer does dispense a smattering of new information on the Big Mystery. My favorite part of this book, and of the series, are the deeply flawed characters. Everyone's got a quirk, a blindspot, a bias that makes them detestable to those who can't see past it. Otherwise, they're generally good people. I doubt the books are worth reading just to get to this, but it is a gem in the story one can cling to when everything is going up in flames (or bombs, gunfire, arrows, etc.).

  • Alex Lee
    2019-06-02 05:20

    Philip Jose Farmer initially wanted this series to be three part series, that became four part, that became five part... in a way, this book merely gets us from part two to what is supposed to be the final part... only here, Farmer dumps all the ideas he's running through the background on us through a series of expository dialogues. He explores too much of experiment without adding much to the story. In a way the fun and fascinating subjectivity of the first part (and then interesting politics of the second part) becomes meandering exposition in this third part. So I did not like this book as much as I would have thought. There is too much "saving the mystery for the finale" here. If Farmer paced his ideational exploration better, the second book could have been thicker, and this book may have been more interesting. The characters are interesting, but there is too much show boating of certain ideologies that Farmer obviously feels worth exploring. If this book was to be a mystical exploration of identity, or identity politics within this mix of post-first life, then I think this book falls short. In a way, there isn't much given here except as a hodgepodge of competing interests that fall short of wrapping the book together as a coherent whole. Instead it feels like the next book and the previous book are crafted as units, and this book is merely a bridge of everything that didn't fit together well. The main character we are to seemingly identify with doesn't even show up until 1/3 through, and then only occupies half the narrative. The series is still interesting, but this book could have used more attention as to its coherency.

  • Brett
    2019-06-15 06:05

    As the third book and one located in mid-sequence, I don't expect many plot resolutions or the main climax. Nevertheless, I was a bit underwhelmed by this addition to the Riverworld Saga. For one, I disliked the third party additions to the normal narrative such as the letters and the newspaper articles. I found them too long and often tedious. I appreciate the author's efforts to try something different but in these cases, I felt it interrupted the flow of the story.Character development was also a bit wonky in no small part because Farmer keeps introducing new people. Not all of them have major roles but a few do. Part of this may be necessary but it detracts from the development of more established characters. Moreover, it slows the plot down as Farmer establishes these new personalities. Perhaps it was Farmer's intention but keeping track of who is who becomes more challenging as the book (and the series) develops.Naturally, this book is not all bad. The development of the airships and their voyages culminating in a meeting (of sorts) is rather exciting. Paranoia still ranks high. And the end of the book tends to cull some of the extraneous characters lending a degree of pathos to the conclusion and heightened sense of urgency to the next installment.The Dark Design was certainly my least favorite of the books so far but it can hardly be characterized as a bad novel. The premise of this series is so good that it cries to be finished regardless of the faults of any component book. Read it but have the Magic Labyrinth close at hand to pick up the threads.

  • David B
    2019-06-03 11:08

    The Riverworld saga continues as various characters attempt the journey to the mysterious tower at the source of the river on whose shores all of humanity has been resurrected. Although this essential quest and the puzzle at the heart of the series still interests, this sprawling, messy novel often tested my patience. Burton and his crew make an appearance at the beginning, but then disappear from the novel altogether. There are numerous unnecessary digressions, including several dull chapters of backstory on Farmer's alterego, the science-fiction writer Peter Jairus Frigate (check out the initials), who is actually a relatively minor character.When Farmer is developing the quest for the truth and the rivalries between characters, the book is fun. However, it really needed quite a bit of editing to whittle out the extraneous material and some shockingly bad writing. I have to admit that the cliffhanger ending does leave me wanting to know what comes next.

  • Dan Schuna
    2019-06-01 10:07

    The two prior books were about somebody building a river boat, another person building a riverboat and then having it stolen and rebuilding the riverboat. This book is about somebody building a zeppelin, then somebody building a riverboat, then two more zeppelin building sections. Honestly, how many times can you tell the same exact story? Massively disappointing in light of the promising world and prospects developed in the first two books. I think this one put me off Philip Jose Farmer for good, I'm sad to say.

  • Jamie
    2019-06-27 08:59

    After 900 pages of Riverworld I'm calling it quits.The initial wonder of the setting became claustrophobic and monotonous.The author seemed to lack focus as the series went on, one moment preaching about sexism or racism, the next telling yet another tale of somebody trying to get upriver.The mystery of the creators and purpose of the world is revealed too slowly to keep me reading.It was fun while it lasted, I loved the first book, Its a pity the whole saga couldn't have been compressed a tad.

  • ♥ Marlene♥
    2019-06-03 07:59

    Better than book 2 but some parts were boring. Too many people were introduces again. it got too complicated. I wasn't happy with the Frigate character for instance.

  • Wanda
    2019-06-26 06:20

    Posted at my blog, The Next Fifty, at:

  • KayMac
    2019-06-18 07:14

    Riverworld series (books 1-5) ReviewAn “IMO” review, if you’re looking for a description of the Riverworld or plot summary Wikipedia does the trick.I enjoyed Riverworld (1-4 at least), though its not the kind of series that left me scrambling for the next book. The premise is unique and very interesting, the author does a lot with it. However, as the series progresses the pacing and narrative quality declines with an almost geometric exactness. If the first book is “five stars” the last book is “one star”.OK, so the series starts out strong and declines over time. As a reader I have zero patience for filler or fluff. That is, expository digressions that have little or nothing to do with advancing the story. If these narrative departures serve to fill out a character that’s one thing, but if I find myself 20 pages into a meandering trip down some nobody's memory lane I start to get frustrated. That’s the primary weakness of the later books in my opinion, and what made the last book “Gods of Riverworld” all but unreadable.I can overlook impossible technological leaps (of which there are many), nonsensical economics, or improbable motivations because, hey, its science fantasy! But I cannot stand filler! The whole story comes to a standstill for dozens of pages at a time (40+ pages in one case I bothered to count in “Gods”) because a trivial character who does nothing important gets demented-old-lady-on-the-bus levels of exposition. Filler! Fluff! Aimless boring irrelevant drivel! That’s why the last book gets only 1 star, it’s a poor conclusion to a series that started out so strong.Nearly all the characters with dialog are genuine historical figures. Some of these characters behave true to their historical selves (Burton, Rotten John), some undergo intriguing changes (Herman Goering becomes a pacifists after years of spiritual/moral anguish), and others seem to have a cartoonish quality or just plain retarded (such as Sam Clemens aka Mark Twain).I’m not familiar with all the historical characters, but I do know a thing or two about Clemens and Burton. Burton was a sort of real-life Indiana Jones, only much much cooler. He’s one of those larger than life people for whom the saying “you cant make this stuff up” seems to have been invented. His character is the backbone of the five-book series, making most of the important discoveries, outwitting or fighting the antagonists etc., which is fitting.But then we also get Mark Twain/Sam Clemens… Clemens is perhaps the second most important protagonist, and one of the book series’ greatest weaknesses. Clemens is portrayed as a dithering, avaricious, childish man who seems to run his own advanced eponymous nation (Twain-land in Esperanto) on the Riverworld just because the author wanted it to be so. In fact, he is far less interesting or likeable than Rotten John with whom he shares power for a time.Clemens makes all the wrong moves, alienates all the wrong people, snatches defeat from the jaws of victory so many times I nearly gave up the series because of him. While the author’s prose are seldom elegant, Clemens’ lines and actions make him appear to have brain damage, which is frustrating since the actual historical Clemens was justifiably famous in his own lifetime for wit and human insight. In the books, he is thoroughly unlikable and not in a rascally Southern way either. Eventually he dies for good, to the reader’s indescribable relief…Riverworld is a passable five book series that could have been made great if heavily abridged into a two or three book series. Don’t bother with the last book “Gods of Riverworld” at all, just don’t…

  • Ryan Patrick
    2019-05-28 08:06

    Some authors can come up with brilliant ideas and plots, while others can take a rather plain and drab idea and use it to write a great story; the real geniuses are those authors who can do both. Alas, Philip José Farmer was not a genius—I would classify him in the first category. The idea of Riverworld has so much potential, which is then ruined by his storytelling. Over four or five books, Farmer tells a story which really could have been streamlined into one decently long novel, but he fills it with lengthy descriptions of natural and physical science, historical background, and psychological exploration, which I found myself increasingly skimming over—they just didn't add anything to the stories, or the characters for that matter. And even this swampy storytelling might have been redeemed if the characters were people I could feel like caring about—but his descriptions just make me dislike them more and more.To be fair, part of my growing displeasure with this series is simply his low and degraded view of human beings, which I have mentioned before—I mean I can be a bit of a misanthrope (haha—haha! See Mrs. Whaley, I still know that vocab word from 11th grade!), but I don't like to wallow in the dregs of humanity. Farmer, however, has spent three books now emphasizing man's inherently violent nature, his inability to overcome the most basic urges of the flesh, and his innate dishonesty. It is enough for me to say, "That's it! I can read the Wikipedia summary of the rest of the series just to remind me how it all ends, and then leave it behind without any regrets."

  • Joseph Carrabis
    2019-06-27 11:14

    I read the Riverworld books in sequence and To Your Scattered Bodies Go was a fantastic, fascinating romp as only Farmer could write them. However, about half way through The Dark Design (book 3 in the series) I began to wonder what was going on, if Farmer was still in control of the story or was just letting it happen, curious himself to see where and how it played out. Each book became more like a chapter in an unending novel than a complete story in itself. I'm sure these are enjoyable to most and definitely to Farmer fans. I'll admit I had trouble with it. Lots of stuff was happening and I was no longer sure where all the action was leading (or if Farmer himself even knew).

  • Florin Constantinescu
    2019-06-17 11:24

    After a letdown in sense of wonder, exploration, and plot speed in "The Fabulous Riverboat", book #3 of Riverworld - "The Dark Design" does a lot to fix what was wrong and even brings back Richard Burton. A few other new historical characters also join the fun (Jack London, Tom Mix, etc).Absolutely stunning here is how the author manages to build a legend about an early group of Egyptian explorers who almost managed to reach the source, and how elements and versions of this legend show up in various places and times throughout the population of the Riverworld.Some of the first hints to the nature of the world are revealed towards the end.

  • Frederick Bodine
    2019-06-19 12:58

    This was number 3 in the series so far and I am going to head right into number 4. I has kept my attention and I can't wait to find out what happens next! It is an older book and the somethings seem dated but if you keep this in mind it is a very enjoyable reading experience. Historical figures in fictional adventures seems to work although the chosen figures are kinda odd. I don't know much history but I don't feel when reading this that I have to. I am becoming a real fan of Philip Jose Farmer!

  • Nicholas Bobbitt
    2019-05-30 10:13

    This book seems the one where Farmer began to run out of steam. After two books of different narrators and narratives, he has begun to retrace steps, return to previously explored characters, and re-explore plot points. The writing is still of extremely good quality, but he's stopped innovating and so I'm less of a fan of this than the first two.

  • Joseph
    2019-06-04 06:02

    Frankly a bit odd and difficult to follow until the ending sort of organises things to something approximating a conclusion. Confusing and full of digressions that don't really add much. A disappointing third part to a series that promised a lot.

  • Tex-49
    2019-06-14 08:12

    La trama diventa sempre più ingarbuglata e meno interessante!Continuo solo per sapere chi sono i creatori del Mondo fiume!

  • Kim Zinkowski
    2019-06-10 05:08

    B. The third in the series.

  • Laurelyn Anne
    2019-06-11 05:15

    The blatant sexism almost ruined the story. It's an interesting concept but damn it shouldn't have taken this long.

  • Rambles On
    2019-06-12 08:07

    The Dark Design, the second volume in Tor’s reissue of Philip José Farmer’s Riverworld series, is actually the third book in the saga, following To Your Scattered Bodies Go and The Fabulous Riverboat.We’re following four threads of narrative here. The first begins with Sir Richard Francis Burton, whose story began the saga. He’s aboard the Hadji II, a riverboat wending its way up the River toward the polar regions, where there is said to be a tower in the middle of a lake wherein all the secrets of the Riverworld can be answered.We are next introduced to Jill Gulbirra, who in her earthly life was an airship pilot. She’s made her way to Parolando, where Milton Firebrass is building just what Jill is after: a huge dirigible. Jill wants to be on it when it departs for the polar regions. Among Firebrass’ company is Cyrano de Bergerac.Peter Jairus Frigate, who on earth was one of Burton’s biographers and a writer of science fiction, anchors the third narrative. Frigate falls in with two men whom he recognizes immediately, although they style themselves Tex Rider and the Frisco Kid. This group winds up building a hydrogen balloon.And Sam Clemens is on the River in pursuit of the perfidious John, who stole his riverboat and left him stranded. So Clemens built another: he has plans for King John.This is a big, loose, sloppy book, and to be quite honest, that’s not entirely praise. As compelling as Farmer’s prose is, there are too many places where one finds oneself skimming — the digressions turn into small dissertations in their own right, and I found myself wondering if all this was really necessary. Part of the problem is our introduction to Jill Gulbirra — she seems nothing so much as a stereotype of the militant lesbian feminist of the 1970s, purely two-dimensional, and it’s not until much later in the book, when she finally drops the chip on her shoulder, that she starts to become at all sympathetic. Fortunately, she does become someone we can root for, but, even though no one has ever accused Farmer of being overly subtle, I could have wished that he’d been a little more adroit in introducing her, since Gulbirra is a major focus in the first part of the book.And although the four lines converge in a rush to the Pole, it never really seems like it — there’s not that kind of focus here. There are moments that are truly edge-of-the-seat, but what seems to be an overall lack of focus works its way into the overarching story line as well. We only get sequences in which the full range of perfidy and deception wreaked on the various protagonists is made plain, and sadly, scattered sequences are not enough to keep the story moving smoothly.It’s not a total loss, by any means. Farmer has developed the characters more deeply — even Sam Clemens shows in a better light — and the juxtapositions of various schools of belief sometimes offer interesting, if often long-winded, counterpoint. As much speculation as the characters engage in concerning the Ethicals and their agents, however, it would have been more fun for the reader to be treated to a few more scenes like the one that closes the book — a mysterious person, disguised as human — or perhaps he really is human — making his own plans for the future.All in all, if you have the patience for long rambling asides and backstory that doesn’t quite explain anything, you’ll probably enjoy The Dark Design. For myself, I think the book could have used a good pruning.-- Rambles

  • Carlo
    2019-06-13 09:56

    (Se si potesse, sarebbero due stelle e mezza)Non bisognerebbe accostarsi a una serie partendo da metà o giù di lì, e qui si tratta del terzo volume del Ciclo del Fiume, ma in casa questo c’era (un vecchio Urania di vent’anni fa) e non avevo tempo e voglia di andarmi a cercare le puntate precedenti (che poi mi sono arrivate a tiro quando avevo già cominciato la lettura, ma questo è un altro discorso). E’ anche vero, però, che ogni capitolo dovrebbe comunque saper camminare con le proprie gambe – se non altro con lo scopo di far avvicinare anche il lettore di passaggio - e così mi sono avviato fiducioso, anche perché Farmer è un narratore che sa coinvolgere e divertire: caratteristiche, queste ultime, che finiscono per acuire il senso di delusione che si prova una volta chiuso il libro. E’ certamente affascinante l’idea di un mondo percorso da un grande fiume lungo le cui sponde qualcuno ha resuscitato l’intera umanità mischiando provenienze geografiche ed epoche storiche, però non ci si può nascondere l’impressione che, giunto a questo punto, l’autore si sia di fatto ritrovato prigioniero in un universo dai difficili sbocchi, magari con il desiderio di volare nello spazio a immaginare nuovi mondi vicino a stelle lontane. La brillantezza della scrittura si rivela soprattutto nella capacità di sfruttare un’occasione come quella di mettere a contatto figure famose di epoche diverse (da Mark Twain a Richard Burton l’esploratore a molti altri), e nel sottofondo avventuroso che resta l’aspetto migliore, con i risorti che, una volta organizzatisi, si avvicinano ai responsabili (autonominatisi Etici) del loro risveglio che sono piazzati, in apparenza, in una grande torre al centro del mare polare. Il procedere della storia è però rallentato da una serie non indifferente di zavorre, a partire dalle lunghe parti didascaliche che, a volte, sembrano scritte per un’enciclopedia – si tratti di raccontare lo sfondo storico di un personaggio oppure di descrivere con minuzia le caratteristiche e il volo di un aeronave. Altrettanto disorientante è il gran numero di personaggi che entrano in scena – ci sono almeno tre o quattro filoni narrativi che procedono in parallelo – anche se non tutti riescono a raggiungere un certo spessore: al confronto, pur essendo avulse dal flusso principale, funzionano assai meglio le divagazioni (i flash-back, la lettera nel contenitore di bambù) che hanno come protagonista soprattutto Frigate e che si configurano come racconti a se stanti, ma in ogni caso gustosi. E’ curioso notare come, fra i personaggi suddetti, una sola sia donna, cioè il pilota di dirigibili Jill Gulbirra, che combarre quasi da sola per i diritti femminili in una compagnia esclusivamente maschile (le altre donne sono solo decorative) in cui gli uomini, anche i più sensibili alle istanze sociali, faticano moltissimo a mollare anche un grammo di potere al gentil sesso. Tra i sospetti incrociati di essere spie degli Etici, ripetizioni di ogni misura in sistema decimale e statunitense,viaggi ai confini del mondo e scoppiettanti battaglie aero-navali, il romanzo si lascia comunque leggere senza troppo impegno – malgrado, forse, le intenzioni dell’autore - per arrivare a un finale del quale non si può dire che sia aperto perché sarebbe riduttivo: manca solo la scritta ‘continua’…

  • Dave
    2019-06-07 06:03

    Ah, now we're getting somewhere. The ships and blimps have been built, people are heading for the Tower, resurrection has been halted (stopped? who knows?), more magical technology has been recreated ... although again Farmer was limited by the technology present when the book was written, so many things we take for granted, like cell phones and laptops, are not used, even by people who lived past 1983. (Which, by the way, would have been an excellent way to limit technology used in the book. If no one had actually lived past the time in which Farmer had written the books - which, in fact, would have nearly been the case, given when The Magic Labyrinth was written - then he could have based everything off either current tech or the magitech that would be required to resurrect everyone.)Anyway, this is the book that really gets things moving. It's true that Farmer complicates things by adding groups of people that he hadn't mentioned before, and by not mentioning other groups of people that were part of the main storyline (where's Burton again?) ... but the little throwaway section at the end of the book covers all of that neatly. (view spoiler)[Of course X would have enlisted more than 12 people to help. Of course some of them would not make it. Of course there would be agents and such trying to figure out what was going on. Of course X wouldn't have appeared again if he was trapped on the Riverplanet - he'd have no access to his magitech and couldn't visit anyone. (hide spoiler)]You start to get a feel for how Farmer will resolve conflicting storylines in subsequent books. Of course they can't all get to the Tower ... how likely would it be that none of the "bad guys" would stop any of X's helpers? This is a world where bad guys have literally nothing else to do. Why not steal what other people create? Why not kill people will great plans? There are some confusing bits, though. For example, (view spoiler)[we can infer that the Peter Jairus Frigate who meets Tom Mix and Jack London is not the "Frigate" who woke up near Burton and followed him until being identified as an Agent ... but we don't know that for sure. The "real" one certainly seems to describe a different life than the fake one did, and he writes letters to a friend he barely recognized in his fake mode, but it's hard to say for sure. (hide spoiler)] Also, (view spoiler)[the bit about certain Agents taking out other Agents is hard to understand. Why would Firebrass be so intent on getting into the tower? Why would Thorn be so set on preventing it? Are there other Ethicals on X's side? What was the meaning of the displays at the end? Is X the Operator? Do they work together? (hide spoiler)]Still, this is the pace that a story like this is better suited to: a pace that draws you in and requires that you keep reading the book until you finish it. Who's going to get to the Tower? Who else is part of the journey? (view spoiler)[And which craft burned up and which one survived? (hide spoiler)]

  • Intortetor
    2019-06-18 05:19

    capitolo centrale del ciclo del fiume: ritorna buona parte dei personaggi dei primi due libri, si scopre che alcuni non sono chi dicono di essere, l'azione si sposta soprattutto nei cieli e arriva il primo grande personaggio femminile di rilievo, miz jill gulbirra. spesso il tono è più filosofico -grazie a due new entry: piscator e nur- quasi che farmer stia cercando di costruire la logica dietro al mondo del fiume. o sta solo allungando il brodo? a sto punto vado avanti, ma il tutto comincia ad essere irritante.

  • Mark Oppenlander
    2019-06-20 04:58

    The third book of the Riverworld series ups the ante considerably. It is nearly as long as the first two books put together and it introduces a number of new characters and plotlines. But the threads are now starting to weave together and overlap . . . We revisit Sir Richard Francis Burton, who still has the goal of reaching the headwaters of the River, but lacks the technology to do it quickly. His is going to be a long, slow trip. We meet Peter Jairus Frigate, a character who seems to be based on the author of the novel whose initials he shares. Frigate encounters a couple of charismatic men who are boat captains; their identities are disguised but Frigate knows who they were back on Earth: Jack London and Tom Mix. He joins these childhood heroes of his as they also make an expedition upriver. We also briefly hear from Sam Clemens, who has built a second, larger riverboat and is chasing after King John who stole his first boat from him (at the end of the previous book).By far the largest sections of the book are devoted to another new character, Jill Gulbirra, an airship pilot who comes to the kingdom of Parolando to be considered for the crew of the airship they are building there. Through her demonstration of dedication as well as her experience, she is able to procure the position of first mate alongside Milton Firebrass, the builder of the airship and the leader of the expedition to the polar regions. Along for the ride are Cyrano de Bergerac, a mysterious Asian named Piscator and several others, some of whom may or may not be working for the Ethicals (those who built Riverworld).This is a massive, complicated book with a ton of characters and a plot that jumps back and forth between its diverse strands in a kind of drunken walk. Often such a storytelling style would annoy me, but here I actually liked it. In fact, this may be my favorite of the Riverworld books so far. The various plot threads sometimes reveal new information and sometimes obscure it, but it is clear that Farmer has a grand design of his own. Most of the main characters in this book have had contact with the Ethicals. Most everyone is trying to make it to the headwaters of the River and to the polar regions. Most everyone wants answers. Farmer is doling out the information pretty slowly. Nonetheless, there is a directionality to this and the new tidbits he drops every so often are intriguing.I am hoping that the final two installments are at least as good as this one. As long as Farmer doesn't shy away from answering the questions he has raised, this should be a fun ride.