Well, the movie version's been turned into a parade of victims. The original characters have been partly replaced--Sir Richard Francis Burton
is gone, and in his place an American astronaut. The characters we meet at rebirth are quickly enslaved by a local warlord, which serves as a tablet upon which the victimization theme is writ. An African woman who died on a slave ship has been added as a chatacter, and a Polish Jew who died in a German concentration camp. A citizen of Imperial Rome has also been added as a counter-example of the individualist - he is cruel and purely self-interested, to the detriment of everyone else.
I don't object to those characters, per se, but I do object to the constant theme of victimization that pervades our culture. UPDATE:
The citizen of Rome turned out to be the Emperor Nero---perhaps the most famously self-interested person in history. Did I call that, or what? UPDATE 2:
Another amusing thing: The astronaut who replaces Burton supposedly dies in 2009. This means that he's not a historical personage. The whole point of the Riverworld books is that the lead characters were nearly all historical personages. Samuel Langhorne Clemens
, for instance. Alice Pleasance Liddell
, for another. It seems a shame to sacrifice Burton, the first Christian to see Mecca, for a fictional character.UPDATE 3:
I do like that they have some of the moderns, the citizens of democracies, splitting off for themselves and making a Galt's Gulch of it.UPDATE 4:
There's quite a bit of swordplay in this little epic - the astronaut Hale will have to face Nero at some point. Burton could have faced Nero and then some - as an experienced swordsman of the late 19th century he would have had centuries of research and canon to draw on that would be completely unknown to Nero. But today swordplay is a dead art, Hale would be most unlikely to know anything of it. But I'm guessing there's going to be some plot dodge whereby he manages to be a master swordsman.