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"... arise From death, you numberless infinities of souls, and to your scattered bodies go..." -- John Donne

Riverworld / Novels / Glossary

ETHICAL:   the originators of the Riverworld; mysterious group of humans, self-named for their moral superiority; 
GRAIL:   common name for the bucket-shaped, metal container that is the source of food for Riverdwellers; computer machinery in the bottom converts energy from the grailstones into food and other necessaries based on pre-recorded cultural menus for the individual; indestructible by means available to the Riverdwellers; lidded, only can be opened by the owner (see FREE GRAIL, GRAILSTONE)
GRAILSTONE:    flat, table-shaped structure that sit at the both banks of the river, spaced every mile; five feet high, with a diameter of fifty feet, appears to be made out of red-flecked granite; three times a day, it flares with roaring electrical energy, deafening and startling; if a grail is placed on one of the 700 depressions, it will be unharmed by the flames and convert the raw energy into edible food; appear to be somehow linked to the process of translation (see GRAIL, TRANSLATION)  
FREE GRAIL:     a GRAIL that can be used by anyone; Riverdwellers found a free grail already on the GRAILSTONE on Resurrection Day, presumably to show them how the grails work (see GRAIL, GRAILSTONE, RESURRECTION DAY)  
RESURRECTION DAY:   the first day of life on the Riverworld; the day when all humans who died before 1983 found themselves naked, hairless and physically 25 years old, with a GRAIL beside them, on the banks of the River  
TRANSLATION:   the process by which Riverdwellers are resurrected at a random location on the banks, always near a GRAILSTONE; occurs after death on the Riverworld, always in the morning of the day following physical death; translatees always appear hairless and naked, with a new GRAIL and a few KILTCLOTHS (see also WATHAN, GRAILSTONE, KILTCLOTH)  
KILTCLOTH:   a short length of cloth with magnetic fasteners; did not appear until the second day, forcing most Riverdwellers to become comfortable with nudity (see also RESURRECTION DAY)
WATHAN:   a ball of tendrilous, colored energy that hovers invisibly above every person's head; the soul; holds all information about a person's life, including memory, personality and the condition of the physical body; inexorably drawn to only a body that matches the original in every way, will wonder the universe aimlessly until its body is resurrected for it  
DREAMGUM:   hallucinogenic gum; causes users to have self-reflective dreams; used by the Church of the Second Chance in meditation rituals (see also CHURCH OF THE SECOND CHANCE)
CHURCH OF THE SECOND CHANCE:  a theology started by a man named Viro, based on the premise that the Riverworld is a second chance for humans to attain personal enlightenment; pacifist; apparently inspired by a visit by X, who instructed Viro to start the Church (see also X)
X:  aka Ecks; Mysterious Stranger; a highly secretive agent working against the Ethicals, in order to save humanity from a terrible, unknown fate; contacted a number of the Riverdwellers (including Sir Richard Burton and Samuel Clemens) and urged them to find the headwaters of the River
ESPERANTO:  the common language spoken by most Riverdwellers; spread to the masses by the Church of the Second Chance


design and original materials (c) 2001  J. Hazlett Foreman