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Across a Billion Years

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  928 ratings  ·  71 reviews
A brother's "message cubes" to his twin sister relate the unusual adventures of the archaeological expedition he accompanies into space in the twenty-fourth century.
Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published May 14th 2013 by Open Road Media (first published 1969)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  928 ratings  ·  71 reviews

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Edward McKeown
Apr 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Across a Billion Years, by Robert Silverberg
Year first published: 1969
Review by Ed McKeown

Scattered throughout the globe of human-occupied space is evidence of a civilization that bestrode the galaxy before humanity was born. Now, a strange device has been discovered that shows the details of that great civilization. The details include a star map and hints that the High Ones are not extinct after all.

The map beckons, and humans, being what they are, will follow. To the next great step in hu
Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“We (archeologists) are enemies of entropy; we seek to snatch back those things that have been taken from us by the years.”

Classic science fiction. Considering it was written in the 1960s, this book’s science fiction works better than many current offering. It flunks sociology, as do many contemporaries.

“The first rule of archeology is be careful with the evidence. No, that’s the second rule. The first one is find your evidence.”

Twentieth century attitude towards rape; twenty-first century atti
Apr 18, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Typical of your 1960s juvenile book. A good amount of action considering the book is about a group of archaeologists. Delivery is a bit distracting since it takes the form of a really long dictated letter from fraternal twin brother to sister. Science is really soft and dated but the point of the story is the entertainment value.
Robert Gelms
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Billions and Billions
By Bob Gelms

I haven’t thought about Robert Silverberg for quite a while. He is a sci-fi writer extraordinaire. In 1969 he wrote this week’s book, Across A Billion Years. It was out of print for a while but re-released last year in paperback. A few months ago, the e-book was released and that’s when I became aware of it. It has been a long time since I’d read anything by Mr. Silverberg. He is a very prolific writer and I read a lot of his stuff when I was a boy. He started p
Greg Tymn
When I first received an email for an inexpensive "new" novel by Silverberg, I thought: "Great!"

I wonder if there is a law, like Murphy's or Godwin's for cheap e-books by fairly gifted authors? Bezos' Law? It would read something to the effect that: The price of an e-book is inversely proportional to the square of the years since original copywright. In other words: I should have known that this Silverberg novel was from 1969.

This isn't The Forever War or The Lathe of Heaven or Rendezvous with
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
The imaginative scale of this book boogles my mind. Which is what we expect from any good science fiction.
Mar 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Summary: A group of space archaeologists from different planets make a discovery that puts them on the trail of an ancient, highly advanced race that disappeared nearly a billion years ago.

Tom Rice is a graduate archaeology researcher part of a team drawn from several different races from different planets on an expedition excavating a site on one of the planets occupied by an incredibly advanced and ancient civilization, The High Ones. Tom, in his youthful enthusiasm, is the narrator of this st
Karen Tynes
I realize this book was written back in the 1960s for juveniles. I do not recommend it for juveniles.

There is a scene when the "hero" sees the attemped rape of a team member by a fellow archelogist and does not intervene. There is this paragraph where the hero states, there is no such thing as real rape because any woman can fight off an attacker. The woman does successfuly fend her attacker off and the hero says something like, "That just proved his point." There is another scene a few minutes
Erik Graff
Jul 31, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Silverberg fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
I learned early on that Silverberg is a dependable author in the sense that the quality of his writing is consistently competent. Nothing I have read by him has truly challenged and changed me, but most everything has been enjoyable including this juvenile.
Mal Warwick
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
Every science fiction fan must be familiar with Robert Silverberg. The man has written more than 300 books, most of them SF. He won the Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFFWA) in 2003—a rare honor that goes only to the best in the business. (If you read a lot of science fiction, you'll probably recognize practically every name on the list of winners.)

Silverberg's 1969 novel, Across a Billion Years, is not regarded as one of his most ambitious efforts. B
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
I love Silverberg. But I guess even a great writer will write a bad book once in a while.

The premise of the book is very intriguing and would allow for some really grand things, but Silverberg botched it, unfortunately. He builds expectations up, just to let them fall flat on their face.

What's the meaning of having a crew made up of alien beings if you're not going to explore them and the interactions between everyone? Would the book be any different if the wholew crew was made up of earthmen?

This is an older book by one of the grandmasters of Science Fiction, and there are some excellent concepts presented in the book. I liked it okay, but there was a lot of busy reading to get through it. There are some spoilers below, but given there are no twists in the story, the spoilers are somewhat mild; consider yourself warned.

Around half the book was a huge info dump about the new aliens that were representatives of Galactic Central and certain improvements in humanity's situation since th
Sara Best
When I started to read this book, I hadn't realized it was written almost 50 years ago. That explains the dated technology and the attitude towards women and sexual harassment in the work place. What was more surprising, was despite the obviously well established galactic society a-la Star Trek, the story is told in a surprisingly earth-centric way. It wasn't that any of the characters were bigoted, but that the historical or technological references utilized for comparison were all human. One w ...more
Matt Shaw
Really more like 3.5. This is a very workmanlike Ancient Artifact/BDO story, made a bit more original by the epistolary style of storytelling. The best part, to me, is how Silverberg actually gets archaeology right when most SFF authors truly don't; he describes the daily routines, note-taking, artifact processing, isolation, and interpersonal twitches that mark any excavation, and weaves the narrative around that for the first half of the book. That sets this above most other stories of this ty ...more
Gabe Waggoner
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Any book that involves an ancient, technologically advanced race that has vanished is sure to draw my attention. Across a Billion Years is told entirely through letters that the protagonist writes to his sister. Although I thought that approach would limit the story, I was wrong. Silverberg wove a tale that summons my inner geek—the one that wants to believe not only that life exists elsewhere in the universe but also that it includes civilizations that are eons ahead of our own development. The ...more
Jerome Solove
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While this book was fairly simplistic in the way the science in the background is occurring, the author presents a circumstance that I have never before seen in a sci-fi book. What happens when archaeologists discover and pursue 1 billion year old finding? What really are the implications to even think that civilization could’ve lived that long ago? Where are they today? What would this mean potentially to our realm as we live it today, and as we contemplate it for our future. 100,000 years to u ...more
Nov 05, 2017 rated it liked it
not a bad book. it did indeed remind me just a little of my days in archaeology. a bit more of camp life would have helped develop characters more and emphasize the slow and painful work that archaeological work can be. I would have liked a bit more suspense in the second act. and the last couple of chapters were far to quick. there was more book here that was not written/ I feel like I got the outline. it was an enjoyable read but there could have been more.
Torrey Hoffman
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
It's ok.

Not nearly as good as the Majipoor series. The main character is an annoying rich kid, the other characters are pretty shallow. I finished it only because I really wanted to know what the back story off the billion year old aliens was, and was kind of disappointed at the end.
Shannon Callahan
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was ok

I don’t know what to make out of this at all. The story was too plain and not much enjoyable out of it. In my own opinion, this should turn into something more of series than one book. This adventure was too fast from A to Z in a blink of eye. Again, this is just my own opinion.
Lance Schonberg
Kind if wish I'd let this one live in memory. I read it a dozen or more times as a kid and young teen. With middle-aged eyes, it doesn't do so well. The basic plot still works, and therevare some great ideas in the story, but the protagonist is very much a 1960s white male in his outlook.

More later, at some point when I'm not typing on my phone.
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
As a little kid i always enjoyed the notion that we as humans survive the nuclear war threat and become involved in space flights and expansion, this is a good read for those of us to think as myself. Great read.
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Easy enjoyable read.

Simplistic read, but generous on ideas. Written from 22 year-olds viewpoint, really captures the feeling of wonder of exploration during ones early 20's.
henry c brown
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A New Twist on the Future

Silver erg has taken a query twist on interaction between earthlings and a vastly superior race. It's intermixed with humor, science, technology, personal interactions, all at a fast and interesting pace...quite enjoyable!
Robert Kreps
May 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Lacks real character development

Good space yarn, but not much character development. The twist at the end was startling, but nothing previous in the story had pointed to it. Became a sort of dues ex machina to rescue the plot and find an ending.
Ricardo Portella
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Slow but addicting

Written in first person, the book tells the saga of group of space archeologists in search of a civilization born a billion years ago. No space battles or evil aliens, but you got hooked by the story anyway.
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set as a first person narrative recorded along the path of the action it quickly sets the reader up to turn the page quickly to following the accellerating story line. Decent character work and a fun digging up history vibe keep the story entertaining and light.
Apr 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a bad story, but perhaps a bit dated. Far too much is taken up by the adolescent yearnings of the main character for an attractive female, which detracts from the plot. The ambition of the imagination is well worth it, although the ending is perhaps a bit rushed.
Scott Caron
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
A classic

It has been a long while since I have read such an enjoyable story. Everything else seems so Star Wars like, but this is a breath of fresh air.
Dec 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of an archaeological dig of the future (of a billion year old race) that becomes a bigger adventure than expected.
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though a bit dated in presentation (it was published in 1969) it is still a very enjoyable story with an interesting premise and ending.
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Robert Silverberg is one of science fiction’s most beloved writers, and the author of such contemporary classics as Dying Inside, Downward to the Earth and Lord Valentine’s Castle, as well as At Winter’s End, also available in a Bison Books edition. He is a past president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the winner of f
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