PHILIP JOSE FARMER (1918- ) was one of SF's groundbreaking mavericks, an author who loved to write speculatively about sex and religion at a time when most SF editors and publishers considered these topics taboo. TO YOUR SCATTERED BODIES GO (1971) is the first of several novels and stories by Farmer about "Riverworld," a place where all of mankind has been reincarnated along the banks of an enormous river. In the first volume, Sir Richard Francis Burton - explorer, linguist, and translator of The Arabian Nights - joins forces with Alice Hargreaves - the real-life model for Carroll's Alice in Wonderland - and a Neanderthal named Kazz, against Nazi aviator, Hermann Goering. Subsequent chapters in Farmer's endlessly entertaining epic involve historical characters as diverse as Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) and Jesus Christ.
Richard M. Powers' typically abstract cover design illustrates the novel's opening sequence. Burton has just died, and awakes to find himself in some kind of uncanny between-lives area:
"The rods came up from an abyss without bottom and soared into an abyss without ceiling. That grayness into which the rods and the bodies, up and down, right and left, disappeared was neither the sky nor the the earth. There was nothing in the distance except the lackluster of infinity. . . . By then he understood that he was in some colossal chamber and that the metal rods were radiating some force that somehow supported and revolved millions -- maybe billions -- of human beings."
Farmer's Hugo award winning novel was later reprinted in a deluxe leatherbound edition by the Easton Press, with interior illustrations by Powers. Other Farmer novels and short story collections with covers by Powers include The Green Odyssey (Ballantine 1957), The Lovers (Ballantine 1961), The Alley God (Ballantine 1962), and Night Of Light (Berkley 1966).