I am not much of a book reader, so I don’t know much about Philip Jose Farmers’ Riverworld novels but I hear they are quite good. However, I do know that the SYFY channel has adapted the series for a new 4-part TV movie. Readers of the series are pissed because they believe a faithful adaptation is damn near impossible and just shouldn’t be attempted. They’re also angry that adaptation scribe Robert Hewitt Wolfe (Star Trek Deep Space Nine) doesn’t seem to give a shit about ditching the original story lines and changing the characters around. As with any literature adaptation it’s bound to alienate a few members of the core audience, but I say give it a shot. Riverworld is a huge undertaking for SYFY and I’m pretty sure they don’t want to screw it up. To calm skepticism, and to exicite the rest of us, a few stills featuring lead stars Tahmoh Penikett and Alan Cumming have hit the net. (check out io9 for the gallery)
Until it’s 2010 release here’s the official synopsis of Riverworld:
When American war zone journalist Matt Ellman (Tahmoh Penikett, Battlestar Galactica) and his fiancée, Jessie Machalan (Laura Vandervoort, Smallville), are killed in an explosion, Matt awakens, separated from Jessie, on the banks of a river snaking endlessly across a mysterious new plane of existence. On Riverworld, everyone who has ever lived on Earth, ever soul throughout time, has been reborn along the banks of a seemingly endless river. Determined to locate Jessie, Matt aligns with Tomoe (Jeananne Goossen, Falcon Beach) , a 13th century female warrior, Allegra (Romina D’Ugo, Hairspray), a 15th century courtesan of shifting alliances, and American novelist and Riverboat captain Samuel Clemens (Mark Deklin, Justice), better known as Mark Twain. With a full crew of adventurers, they embark upriver to understand where they are, why they are here, and to what unknowable end the river winds.
Under the guidance of the peculiar Caretaker (Alan Cumming, Tin Man), their quest takes them below to a torturous Cavern of Souls and the Underworld prison, above in a Zeppelin piloted by a brilliant German engineer, and forward to cross paths with renowned explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton (Peter Wingdfield, 24) who has joined forces with Francisco Pizzaro to conquer and destroy Riverworld. For Matt, each unfathomable day, each nefarious encounter, only deepens the conundrum of Riverworld and raises more questions…What happened to Earth and when? What is the purpose of the burning Orb? What powers are contained in the infamous Dark Tower? And why is their every move being followed by the watchful eye of an alien being? The answers are waiting beyond the endless swells of Riverworld.
“Charting a territory somewhere between Gulliver’s Travels and The Lord of the Rings” (Time), Philip Jose Farmer’s Nebula Award-winning saga becomes a spectacular miniseries event-a feast for the eyes, the mind, and the heart of everyone who longs to explore the meaning of life, the mysteries of death, and everything that lies between.