The Dark Design: Riverworld Saga, Book 3 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
|New from||Used from|
Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
|Free with your Audible trial|
Milton Firebrass, once Mark Twain's enemy and now his greatest ally, plans to build a giant airship that can fly to the North Pole of Riverworld. Once there, he hopes to learn the secret of the mysterious tower that dominates the landscape and find the answer to his most urgent question: could the tower contain the Ethicals, the enigmatic beings that created Riverworld?
Meanwhile, Jill Gulbirra is challenged for the job of piloting the airship by none other than Cyrano de Bergerac. As if there were not enough challenges facing the crew, they soon suspect there is an agent of the Ethicals among their number, plotting their destruction….
- Click above for unlimited listening to select audiobooks, Audible Originals, and podcasts.
- One credit a month to pick any title from our entire premium selection — yours to keep (you'll use your first credit now).
- You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
- $14.95 a month after 30 days. Cancel online anytime.
People who viewed this also viewed
People who bought this also bought
Related to this topic
|Listening Length||17 hours and 59 minutes|
|Author||Philip José Farmer|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||January 25, 2010|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #135,486 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#9,309 in Science Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#43,805 in Science Fiction (Books)
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
I won't set out the basic concept behind the Riverworld books; anyone reading a review of the third volume in the series is probably familiar with it already. Whereas the two previous volumes concentrated upon a single protagonist, Sir Richard Francis Burton in "To Your Scattered Bodies Go" and Sam Clemens alias Mark Twain in "The Fabulous Riverboat", "The Dark Design" weaves together three plotlines. One involves Farmer's alter ego Peter Jairus Frigate and his adventures on the river with the writer Jack London and the silent film star Tom Mix, both of whom are for some reason travelling under false identities.
The other two plotlines involve attempts by separate parties to reach the headwaters of the river near Riverworld's North Pole; they believe that it is there, and particularly inside a mysterious tower, that they may find the solution to the riddle of why Riverworld has been created. (It appears that those responsible are a group known as the "Ethicals", but exactly who these people are, and what their motives are, remains obscure both to the inhabitants of Riverworld and to the reader). One of these groups is led by Burton, the other by Milton Firebrass who has succeeded Clemens as president of Parolando and has ordered the construction of an airship, which he believes will be able to reach the Pole more quickly than a boat.
Whereas apart from Frigate most of the main characters in the earlier instalments were real historical individuals, in "The Dark Design" there is more emphasis on purely fictional characters. Firebrass is one of these; another is the Australian airship pilot Jill Gulbirra. The book was published in 1977 and Farmer lived long enough to see that his predictions of how technology might develop in the late twentieth century were not always accurate. He foresaw, for example, a major revival of the airship in the 1980s and we learn that Fairbrass, during his terrestrial existence in the 1990s, was an American astronaut involved in manned space flights to Mars and Jupiter.
Jill seems to have been created to answer criticisms that in the earlier volumes the female characters were too weak, but here Farmer seems to have gone to the opposite extreme, making Jill so strident and aggressive that she comes across like a caricature of a seventies feminist.
The title is derived from "The Kasidah of Haji Abdu El-Yezdi", a poem by Burton which contains the following lines, quoted at the beginning of the book:-
"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 significance of these lines is twofold. The words "dark design" can be taken as referring to the unfathomable plans of the Ethicals in creating Riverworld. Burton's "Kasidah", however, has been seen as reflecting his interest in Sufism, a mystical form of Islam, an interest which Farmer may have shared. Certainly, some passages in "The Dark Design" have a markedly mystical tone, and two characters, Frigate's Arab companion Nur ed Din and a Japanese airship pilot who calls himself Piscator (Latin for "fisherman"), are both practising Sufis.
I must admit that I did not enjoy this book as much as its two predecessors. While the basic Riverworld concept is still an entertaining one, the structure of "The Dark Design", jumping from one plot-line to another without warning is an over-complicated and confusing one, especially as the timescale is not always made clear. At around twice the length of either "To Your Scattered Bodies Go" or "The Fabulous Riverboat", the novel is overlong and at times Farmer's prose becomes ponderous and heavy-going. That quote from Burton is perhaps, unfortunately, appropriate in a way the author did not intend. "The Dark Design" can seem unpatterned and I found myself doubting whether it owned a plan.
The ability for the author to explain worlds that you can envision clearly is just as good as is character building. Philip Jose Farmer is in my top ten list of Science Fiction authors. He is missed.
I get that this book was writtne at a time when the metric system was just a rumor in this country, but lets have some continuity.