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The Boat of a Million Years

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  2,337 ratings  ·  110 reviews
Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Poul Anderson tells a breathtaking tale of Earth. Immortal humans take to the skies to travel to the stars and galaxies in a great space adventure.
Mass Market Paperback, 530 pages
Published January 15th 1991 by Tor Books (first published 1989)
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The Boat of a Million Years by Poul Anderson is a vehicle by which the author can explore anthropological, historical, sociological, theological and philosophical questions through the immortal eyes of a group of ageless but not impervious characters.

This is a brilliantly broad in scope adventure through time and culture, well researched and fascinating. I cannot help but compare this to Heinlein’s Methuselah's Children and especially Time Enough for Love, with its theme of immortality and abil
Sep 03, 2012 Mike rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Long time ago I turned these pages.

There's been very little written by Poul Anderson that i did not like. I'm going on memory here, but this story was more about the people involved rather than classic, hard Science Fiction. As an omnibookworm, I don't particularly mind if an author draws on non-genre-specific influences to make a tale work better. Anderson was always all over the map: his books spanned SF, fantasy, history, and non-fiction. I can't recall ever been disappointed by him.

"The Boat
Kirsten *Dogs Welcome - People Tolerated"
An interesting book on what it would be like if you were immortal. Would it be a boon or a curse? I like how the author approached the subject and the characters were interesting.

However, like another reviewer pointed out, once it got into the late 20th Century it got a little preachy. And, it was obvious that Mr Anderson has drastically different politics from myself.

Still, the historical chapters were wonderful and very evocative of their different times.
I recently re-read this book. It had been so long since I had read it, and I was pretty young then, so the main thing I remembered about it was that I really liked it. It was practically like reading it for the first time! Basic synopsis: There are some people being born here and there that are essentially immortal. What happens?

"The Boat of a Million Years" was the first book by Poul Anderson I ever read, and to be honest, the only one I liked very much. Though I wouldn't recommend his other bo
Poul Anderson wrote this story so well that I felt that the individual characters were real. They seemed to be true individuals who's thoughts were recorded in the book. The poetic style of Anderson struck a chord with me, and also reminded me strongly of Virginia Woolf's "Orlando." The promise of alien (in the truest sense of the word) peoples and cultures was made quite alluring in this book. The section toward the very end where the wonders of space are talked about and not by any character s ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
In this novel, Poul Anderson tells an audacious story, spanning at least two thousand years, and forward into an unknown future. Across history, a tiny number of people are born immortal, with wounds healing quickly and never ageing beyond a vigorous early adulthood. Most of this book follows a number of these people as they flit from identity to identity, staying out of the way of history. Eventually, they are uncovered, and the Human race develops immortality for all. In the new utopia that fo ...more
The premise is fascinating, but I found the execution lacking. Much of the book is divided into disjointed stories, which meant that I often put the book down, especially when the setting abruptly changed. Still an interesting book.
This title caught my eye when my husband was reading it, so I ventured to try it for myself. So glad I did!

I would hesitate to pigeonhole the novel into a genre. Much of it is historical, though Anderson seems to trust the reader's knowledge to provide the broad framework of history. Much of it is futuristic, but it's "soft" sci-fi, easily accessible to the casual reader. Really, it's a character-driven story, and a very effective one. Through the prism of the Immortals, the reader sees the myr
Benjamin Brannan
Apr 23, 2014 Benjamin Brannan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: SF lovers, history majors
Poul Anderson's novel is difficult to review. The novel contains a myriad of problems which makes it not only difficult to read, but confusingly so. Despite this, it manages to convey an epic story that is, by the end, satisfying.

"The Boat of a Million Years" is, perhaps by necessity, confusing. Characters pop in and out of the world's timeline like rodents in Whack-a-Mole. Although the book has a timeline included, it would greatly benefit from chapters being headed with both location and time.
Joe White
rewiew 01/22/14 The Boat of A Million Years
finally finished 1/21/14 2 stars - might be more accurate as a 0->1 star rating.


The author has an appreciation for the viewpoint of historical turning points where one culture is overtaking and replacing another as a result usually of war or overt control. In some cases this results from Environmental or economical factors such as drought, new trade routes, disruptive products that create new markets. etc.
The author set characters as ordin
Jonathan Trujillo
ok, veamos creó comprender el trasfondo y la maraña de historias durante esos miles de años ... pero pase 630 pag. esperando a que sucediera algo y o sorpresa no sucedió nada, pensándolo bien tal ves si sucedió sólo el reunirse de ahí nada importante.
-Multitud de temas tratados con Sci-Fi al fondo.-

Género. Ciencia-Ficción.

Lo que nos cuenta. Relato de las vidas y sucesos de varios personajes inmortales, y de las complejas relaciones entre ellos, que nos llevará desde la prehistoria al futuro, pasando por escenarios orientales, griegos, romanos, de distintas partes de Europa, norteamericanos, etc, etc, etc… en diferentes momentos de nuestra Historia.

¿Quiere saber más de este libro, sin spoilers? Visite:
Read this again after 20 years. One ofthe best of the Sci-fi immortal genre. Slow in parts, but one connects with the characters. The writing is very very good.
Javier Cantero
Sinopsis: Una serie de personas a lo largo del mundo y la historia deben vivir ocultos por el hecho de ser inmortales.

La historia tiene dos partes diferenciadas. La primera la podríamos llamar "¿Estoy yo solo o hay alguno más?" Con la excusa, el autor nos va metiendo en diversos escenarios históricos, pero lo que es la idea de fondo se hace un poco repetitiva, y por lo tanto cansina.

Cuando más o menos se va llegando a la época actual, y la cosa parece animarse un poco, de repente hay un salto al
This is the first time I read a work of Poul Anderson and I'm amazed. After I watched the movie "The Man from Earth" I wanted to read what kind of adventures an immortal might have lived throughout the centuries he lived. And The Boat of a Millon Years was exactly the book I was searching for. I feel like the book has not ended and it will continue as long as I live coz the characters will outlive me, too.
Perhaps, this will appeal to the more character-oriented and high-brow readers. For me, (what amounted to) a series of vignettes about the trials, tribulations and loneliness of (more or less) immortals throughout history wasn't that interesting. It took about 200 pages to get up to the point in history where there were references to "the Renaissance" and the western hemisphere. During those 200 pages, we didn't see much of great moments in history, historical figures or even people who were tha ...more
I read this book first about 20 years ago, I believe, and on re-read I find it still stands up well. Anderson provides a literary novel of love and human nature by relating the history of a group of immortals from the dawn of history to the far future. A beautiful novel.
The majority of the book is spent in the past, character building and showing off the author's historical knowledge. Once the plot reaches the space age, the interesting part begins. Without giving too much away, the immortals in space accomplish much and dream big.
An impressive work. This novel follows the lives of several immortals throughout human history and beyond into a speculated future. It's kind of a combination of historical fiction in the beginning all the way into full on technologically-advanced space-faring in the end. I liked the thoroughly researched portrayal of daily life in numerous places around the globe throughout history. It was also interesting to look through an immortal's eyes at "significant" historical events. This power will ri ...more
Bart Everson
Dec 28, 2011 Bart Everson marked it as partially-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: octavia-sf
This is the book I was reading when Katrina hit. I took it with me when I evacuated but could never bring myself to finish it. In our book club we call this one "The Book of a Million Years."
Anderson sketches, and maintains, a plausible plot line encompassing the entirety of human history--and not as James Mitchener would. If I told you more, I'd spoil it.
Read, enjoy.
this was a good book. it definitely made think. what fun is immortality if there is nobody to share it with and if there is no goal other than survival?
Fábio Fernandes
I'm reading this book again, after more than twenty years. Time was good to it: Anderson was a master storyteller and this novel ranks among his all-time best (my personal best, in fact).

I already had a lot of books in my TBR pile. Let's just say that I was talking today about it with friends on Facebook, of how I loved the characters, the flow of their stories along the centuries (calm down, no spoilers, I promise) and their reactions regarding their fate.

The book was borrowed to me by a dear
Ambitious idea but it tends to drag.

Read by Tom Weiner.
Duration: 20 hours.
Published by Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Multiple award winner and science fiction legend Poul Anderson’s The Boat of a Million Years did something that science fiction all-too-rarely does when it was published in 1989 – it got the attention of the mainstream literature critics. The New York Times named it a “New York Times Notable Book.” Besides mainstream recognition, it was also nominated for multiple science fiction award
Mark Johansen
It's been a number of years since I read this so this isn't entirely a fair review. But I've long thought of this as the only book I've read by Poul Anderson that I didn't like.

For one thing, this is basically two completely different stories rammed together with the thinnest of justifications. The first half of the book is about a group of people who are immortal, and who over the centuries gradually find each other and go through various adventurers in various times and places. Then in the sec
Lis Carey
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
There are a few people who have born throughout the centuries with an amazing gift, the gift of immortality. Hanno, the main character of the book was born in ancient times and is the oldest of the group followed here. The story is told through flash forwards through time, jumping from century to century and introducing us to each character along the way. Each immortal has for a time believed themselves to be alone, however with much searching they eventually find each other, and for a time a fa ...more
It was ok. Not so much from a hard SF standpoint. Most of the book was about a few immortals who "just don't die(easily)". They don't get sick, age(past ~25), and are "vigorous"(survive most wounds). It starts with a Phonecian guy sometime before the Roman Era. There is a Taoist "philosopher", who isn't anything special-other than a really old Chinese peasant. There's a Viking. There's a Japanese courtesan. A prostitute in Constantinople. A Native American. A Roman bureaucrat. An American slave. ...more
Chris Baker
Marvelous idea, great execution. The entire history of mankind as seen through the eyes of a handfull of immortals. 1 birth in a billion reaches maturity and then just stops aging. The protagonist is a couple of thousand years old at the beginning of recorded history. He would make Lazarus Long look like a kindergarten child in comparison. He tells the tale beginning with him joining a Greek longboat exploration crew on their way beyond the pillars of Hercules and northward to the Britains. How ...more
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Pseudonym A. A. Craig, Michael Karageorge, Winston P. Sanders, P. A. Kingsley.

Poul William Anderson was an American science fiction author who began his career during one of the Golden Ages of the genre and continued to write and remain popular into the 21st century. Anderson also authored several works of fantasy, historical novels, and a prodigious number of short stories. He received numerous a
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