Hale, an American astronaut dies and is reincarnated with other persons who have lived throughout all of human history and end up on a mysterious planet called 'Riverworld'. The humans are left to their own devices and create tribal fiefdoms and succumb to brutal wars and raids. A mysterious race of hooded 'beings' oversee them - sometimes intervening, but their motives are unknown. Anyone who has ever lived and died on Earth comes here rather than 'the afterlife', even an extra-terrestrial call Monat, who had the unfortunate luck of dying on Planet earth in 2039. Hale leads a revolt and joins with others on a large boat to explore this mysterious new world.