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The Boat of A Million Years

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  2,944 Ratings  ·  133 Reviews
Others have written SF on the theme of immortality, but in The Boat of a Million Years, Poul Anderson made it his own. Early in human history, certain individuals were born who live on, unaging, undying, through the centuries and millenia. We follow them through over 2000 years, up to our time and beyond-to the promise of utopia, and to the challenge of the stars.

A milesto
Mass Market Paperback, 530 pages
Published January 15th 1991 by Tor Books (first published November 1989)
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Oh my great googamunga, what the hell have I been reading all these years, slogging through shit only to finally come upon THIS MAGNUM OPUS OF SF? I'm frankly about as embarrassed as I can possibly be.

I am STUNNED by how smoothly this enormous work slid down my gullet, amazing me with so much delightfully interesting history told so damn well that I had to check a few times to be sure I was reading an actual SF novel, and not a brilliant historical told through an old motif of immortals making t
Aug 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it liked it  ·  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 **Be A Dragon**
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.
Jan 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
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
Oct 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Sep 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 06, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
-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.

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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.
Dec 09, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
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?
Benjamin Brannan
Feb 12, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  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.
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
Fábio Fernandes
Jan 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
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
Aug 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Bart Everson
Oct 15, 2010 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."
Lorraine McCleary
Epic story of 8 people who genetically do not die unless outright killed, starting with the oldest in Phonecia. Parallel stories occur until the 8 meet at in the 70's. Then the story leaps into the future where everyone now can live eternally and how that changes human society. The 8, feeling like dinosaurs, then travel into space to find a new planet to begin anew. Great stories and climb thru time. Ending seems a little too pat, finding an alien species to settle a new planet with, but who kno ...more
I should have loved this book, its combining of my two favorite genres. And I did love about three quarters of it. The historical part was entrancing. Then there was a gap in time to the future, as if Mr. Anderson couldn't figure out how to tell that part of the story. And the rest of the story, which takes place in the far future, seemed to me plodding and unsure. The ending redeemed it somewhat, but by that time I was just glad it had finally ended.
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Tedious, boring, and repetitive - if those were the points that Anderson wanted to make about immortals, he succeeded admirably. There was a hint of a good story here, but it was ruined by cardboard characters doing the same thing interminably and never really growing.
Oct 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
At first, I wondered if if I was reading the right book - for a SF classic, seemed weird that the story would start in ancient Phoenicia... and then stay in the past. This book was a better lesson in history than I've had in 20 years probably. But actually the first few hundred pages, before the chronology moved past the modern era and into the future, were the most interesting. Plot wasn't the key - but I loved the exploration of the theme of immortality and the meditation that each main charac ...more
Lis Carey
Jan 12, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: f-sf
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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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
More about Poul Anderson...

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