The original "Riverworld" story was a 150,000-word novel titled Owe for the Flesh, which ended with the protagonist (called Richard Black in this version) finding the tower at the end of the river. In the mid-1950s, Farmer entered it in a science fiction novel contest run by Shasta Publishers and subsidized by Pocket Books. He won the contest but received no money. The work was never published and was lost in its original form. Farmer revised and retitled the book River of Eternity, but that version remained unpublished as well and was thought lost. In the 1960s, Farmer reworked the material yet again into the magazine novellas and serials that would form the final Riverworld sequence. Then in 1983, a copy of the River of Eternity manuscript was discovered in a garage and published by Phantasia Press. Farmer recounts the whole story in his introduction to the Phantasia edition of River of Eternity.