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Authors: Philip José Farmer

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The Dark Design

BOOK: The Dark Design
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“Farmer’s blend of intellectual daring and pulp-fiction prose found a worldwide audience.…Sprawling, episodic works gave him room to explore the nuances of a provocative premise while indulging his taste for lurid, violent action.”

—The New York Times

To Your Scattered Bodies Go

“One of the most imaginative worlds in science fiction!”


“From the beginning,
To Your Scattered Bodies Go
gripped me in a way few books have been able to match.”

—SF Site

The Dark Design

“Its publication is an event with a capital E!”

—Parade of Books

The Magic Labyrinth

“A wide-screen adventure that never fails to provoke, amuse, and educate…His imagination is of the first rank…his velocity breathtaking.…Charts a territory somewhere between
Gulliver’s Travels
The Lord of the Rings.


“This book, like the series as a whole, offers delight to the sense of wonder and storytelling flow as irresistible as the river itself.”

—Publishers Weekly



The Lovers
Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life
Lord Tyger
Strange Relations
Tarzan Alive
Time’s Last Gift
Traitor to the Living
The Stone God Awakens
Behind the Walls of Terra
Image of the Beast
A Feast Unknown
The Gates of Creation
The Maker of Universes
Night of Light
A Private Cosmos
The Wind Whales of Ishmael
The Lavalite World
Jesus on Mars
Dark Is the Sun
The Unreasoning Mask
The Alley God
The Book of Philip José Farmer
Dayworld Rebel


To Your Scattered Bodies Go
The Fabulous Riverboat
The Dark Design
The Magic Labyrinth
The Gods of Riverworld

Riverworld and Other Stories

To Your Scattered Bodies Go
The Fabulous Riverboat

Red Orc’s Rage

The Dark Heart of Time: A Tarzan Novel




New York

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and
events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously.


Copyright © 1977 by The Estate of Philip José Farmer

All rights reserved.

A Tor Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010

is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

ISBN 978-0-7653-2654-6

First Tor Edition: June 2010

Printed in the United States of America

0   9   8   7   6   5   4   3   2   1

Though some of the names in the Riverworld series are fictional, the characters are or were real. You may not be mentioned, but you’re here.

To Sam Long and my godson David,
son of Doctor Docter


Cover Page

Other Books By This Author

Title Page




Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

Chapter 61

Chapter 62

Chapter 63

Chapter 64

Chapter 65

Chapter 66

Chapter 67

Chapter 68

Chapter 69

Chapter 70

And still the Weaver plies his loom, whose warp and woof is wretched Man

Weaving th’ unpattern’d dark design, so dark we doubt it owns a plan.

—The Kasîdah of Hâjî Abdû al-Yazdi

Sentence first—verdict afterwards.

—Alice in Wonderland


The book at hand is volume III of the Riverworld series. Originally, it was to be the conclusion of a trilogy. However, the MS was more than 400,000 words long. Published under one cover, it would be too heavy and unwieldy for the reader.

Therefore, the publisher and myself decided to cut it into two. Volume IV,
The Magic Labyrinth,
will follow this book. It will definitely conclude this phase of the series, explain all the mysteries set forth in the first three volumes, tie up all ends in a knot, Gordian or otherwise.

Any novels about the Riverworld after volume IV are not to be considered as part of the mainstream of the series. These will be the “sidestream,” stories not directly concerned with mystery and the quests of the first three. My decision to write these is based on my belief—and that of many others—that the Riverworld concept is too big to compress within four volumes. After all, we have a planet on which a single river, or a very long and narrow sea, runs for 16,090,000 kilometers, or about 10,000,000 miles. More than thirty-six billion people live along its banks, human beings who existed from the Old Stone Age through the first part of the Electronic Age.

There is not room in the first four volumes to chronicle many events which might interest the reader. For instance, the resurrectees were not distributed along The River according to the chronological sequence in which they had been born on Earth. There was a considerable mixture of races and nationalities from different centuries. Take as an example one of the many thousands of blocs along the banks. This would be in an area ten kilometers long, and the people comprising it would be 60 percent third-century a.d. Chinese, 39 percent seventeenth-century a.d. Russians, and 1 percent men and women from anywhere and any time.

How would these people manage to form a viable state from anarchy? How would they succeed, or fail, in their efforts to get along with each other and to form a body which could defend itself against hostile states? What problems would they have?

In the book at hand, Jack London, Tom Mix, Nur ed-din el-Musafir, and Peter Jairus Frigate sail on the
Razzle Dazzle II
up The River. There is considerable characterization of Frigate and Nur in volumes III and IV. However, there was not enough space to fully develop the characters of the others. So, the “sidestream” stories will give me scope to do this.

These will also relate how the crew of the
Razzle Dazzle
meet some major and minor representatives of various fields of human endeavor. These should include da Vinci, Rousseau, Karl Marx, Rameses II, Nietzsche, Bakunin, Alcibiades, Eddy, Ben Jonson, Li Po, Nichiren Daishonin, Asoka, an Ice Age cavewife, Joan of Arc, Gilgamesh, Edwin Booth, Faust et al.

It’s been apparent to some that Peter Jairus Frigate remarkably resembles the author. It is true that I am the basis for that character, but Frigate has approximately the similarity to me that David Copperfield has to Charles Dickens. The author’s physical and psychic features are only a springboard for propelling reality into that parareality—fiction.

I apologize to the readers for the cliffhanger endings of the first three volumes. The structure of the series was such that I could not emulate that of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. In these each volume
to have a definite conclusion, the mystery seemingly solved, only to reveal in the sequel that the previous ending was false or misleading.

I hope to finish the series, volumes I through V (or possibly VI), before it’s my time to lie down and rest while waiting to board the fabulous riverboat.

Dreams haunted The Riverworld.

Sleep, night’s Pandora, was even more generous than on Earth. There, it had been this for you and that for your neighbor. Tomorrow, that for you and this for next door.

Here in this endless valley, along these unceasing Riverbanks, she dumped her treasure chest, showering everybody with all gifts: terror and pleasure, memory and anticipation, mystery and revelation.

Billions stirred, muttered, groaned, whimpered, laughed, cried out, swam to wakefulness, sank back again.

Mighty engines battered the walls, and things wriggled out through the holes. Often, they did not retreat but stayed, phantoms who refused to fade at cockcrow.

Also, for some reason, dreams recurred more frequently than on the mother planet. The actors of the nocturnal Theater of the Absurd insisted on return engagements, performances which they, not the patrons, commanded. The attendees were powerless to jeer or applaud, to throw eggs and cabbages or walk out, to chatter with their seatmates or doze.

Among this captive audience was Richard Francis Burton.

BOOK: The Dark Design
4.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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