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The Boat of A Million Years [Mass Market Paperback]

Poul Anderson
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 15 1993
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 milestone in modern science fiction, a New York Times Notable Book on its first publication in 1989, this is one of a great writer's finest works.

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From Publishers Weekly

Less a novel than a series of short stories and novelettes tied together by their subjects, this volume tells of 11 "immortals": individuals who will not die of old age but who can, however, be killed. Anderson ( The Avatar ) brings proven storytelling abilities and research skills to chronicles that range from 310 B.C. to a centuries-distant future. Many of the stories describe an immortal's first awareness of his or her difference, and flight from accusations of witchcraft; other tales relate chance encounters between immortals; a few simply tell a good yarn. The penultimate chapter tells of the eight survivors coming together in present times; the last portrays a future where science has extended everyone's life, creating a world vastly different from what the immortals had expected. BOMC and QPB selection.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Hanno the navigator, Tu Shan the mystic, and Aliyat the courtesan share a common bond--immortality. Their search for others like themselves covers thousands of years of human history, from the earliest explorations of the world to the ultimate journey into the stars. Against an everchanging backdrop that includes medieval Japan, the court of Richelieu, and 19th-century America, Anderson draws together a group of very special heroes. Ambitious in scope, meticulous in detail, polished in style, the author's first novel in ten years is highly recommended. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/89.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great story, beautifully told March 13 2004
Format:Hardcover
This is a tale of immortals. The direct ancestor of this book is Robert A. Heinlein's "Methuselah's Children." This is hardly surprising, given the libertarian affinity of Anderson and Heinlein. However, Anderson's work is much more detailed and ambitious. He starts in the Bronze Age and ancient Tyre and travels through our own age into the distant future. As usual, Anderson laces his writing with older words and descriptions not found anywhere except ancient epics. (It just wouldn't be Anderson without a "yonder" in there!) In his treatment of the immortals, Anderson describes the practical problems of memory, learning new languages, avoiding "witch burning," and finally, even our own scientific acquisitiveness. Unlike Heinlein's immortals (like the loquacious Lazarus Long), Anderson's people remain people; a bit wiser than the average, but not immune from their own prejudices, pasts, and proclivities. Indeed, by the end of the book, the immortals become the only "real" people left.
I love this book, and highly recommend it to lovers of science fiction and history.
I found it interesting that Anderson made all of his protagonists into libertarians. He gives a lot of examples of how governments turn against their citizenry as they acquire more power. Anderson describes how immortals would chafe at erosions of personal freedom. He also shows how America's civilization, too, can fall. He particularly takes shots at the IRS.
Much of the book consists of the immortals searching for others like themselves. Our immortals come from all over the world: Phoenician, Syrian, Russian, Gaul, Native American, Chinese, Japanese, and African-American slave.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Boat of a Million years Dec 20 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I actually wanted to rename this book the "Goat of a Million Years" because this is a goat of a book. I agree with the other reviewers that have taken this book to task for its boredom. Its not as boring as say the Foundation trilogy or such deadly dull books as Downbelow station or Glory Season, because it does have some interesting parts. And once you start you want to stick with it. But for me I just didn't reap any rewards and must confess to skimming through huge chunks of it. The posthuman section sounded more like an academic lecture than a story. Finally this is no more a novel than the Foundation trilogy was. It is a collection of short stories some written and published previously I believe with I think some new material. Therefore it lacks the narrative flow a novel should have. I would pass and read Dune instead if you're new to sci-fi or such books as the Forever War or Gateway. To me those are real good science fiction adventures. The popularity of some books that are really rather dull and mediocre books is baffling and the lack of taste may explain the decline of sci-fi literature.
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4.0 out of 5 stars False Advertising.. but very good Jan. 13 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you look at the cover of the book, you would presume that this is a classic science fiction book. There is a futuristic spacecraft gliding amoung the stars.
The book is quite different. I thought of the classic movie "Intolerence" when I read this. It is a lot of disjointed stories that progress through time (the last 2400 years and slightly into the future) about Immortals.
This book is like Anderson's very great (5 + stars) book:
Hrofl Kraki's Saga which he translated and adapted from Scandivian lore. A lot of the characters are Norweigen. Also, a lot takes place in the Holy Land as some characters have to convert religions with the rise of Christianity and of Islam.
I liked the book - it was a good read and one can learn a lot of history in the process. I do not give it 5 stars as it is a little to disjointed and is never quite pooled together. It is
not really science fiction and it is really not fantasy; it is more like a James Mitcher epic (but far shorter). I would recomend Anderson's "Hrolf Kraki's Saga" over this one, if you like Anderson's great writing and want a historical book (not sci fi).
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2.0 out of 5 stars Slightly Disappointing Sept. 8 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is another one of those books that is hard to review because there are a lot of good parts, and a lot parts that are
not so good, so you´¿re left with a mixed bag.
The Boat of a Million Years follows the lives of several immortals from 310 B.C. through the future. It chronicles
the trials they find themselves in trying to hide or mask their immortality from their communities and even their
families, and the life of wandering, and at times despair, it leads them to. In the end they come together to voyage
into space to make their future -- which makes up the last chapter of the book.
Most of the book is written as short chapters chronicling events in the lives of the immortals -- some who don´¿t even
survive to modern times. The most interesting and well written of the characters is Hanno, who we find in the
opening scenes of the book, and several chapters throughout in different eras and with a different name. There are
other interesting characters as well. But the main problem of the novel is it´¿s overwritten and long winded. It takes a
lot of patience to wade through the slag to get to the good parts. And the prose gets a bit stodgy at times.
The last chapter is almost novella length and is probably the strongest part of the book -- but it also has a bit of a dull
edge. The characters just don´¿t seem that amazing or wise given their longevity.
If all the best parts of the novel were pulled together and the chaff culled out -- this could have been an excellent
piece of work. It really does have some interesting things to say about the prospect and consequences of immortality.
But, as is, this is a slightly disappointing work.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars What a Drag it is Not Getting Old
Poul Anderson's book follows a handful of characters through millennia of their unnaturally long lives. Read more
Published 18 months ago by John M. Ford
3.0 out of 5 stars Immortals through time
This book takes you from ancient Phoenicia to the distant future, along with an immortal who lives through it all. Read more
Published on Aug. 11 2012 by Santiago
4.0 out of 5 stars One of Anderson's better efforts
Interesting and unusual story of a few immortals living through human history, from the distant past to the far future. Read more
Published on Nov. 15 2003 by Lee J. Stamm
5.0 out of 5 stars Diamond in the Rough
This is a rather short work not like Anderson's usual stuff. It is a series of vignettes about "eternals", individuals who are destined to live forever. Read more
Published on Oct. 16 2003 by Avid Reader
3.0 out of 5 stars A freak of genetics
Anderson's book is a tale of otherwise normal random immortals born throughout history and their travails while trying to survive multi-lifetimes of human experience. Read more
Published on Sept. 18 2003 by Jack Purcell
4.0 out of 5 stars Balanced Optimism
Poul Anderson is not (was.. he died just recently) the most optimistic of writers. He did not believe in the predestined success of humanity.. at least as a whole. Read more
Published on Sept. 10 2001 by George Baxter
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading despite the misleading cover!
Most of this book is a lead-up to the voyage in the starship on the cover, so the title and cover picture are somewhat misleading as to most of the story. Read more
Published on July 5 2001 by "wellsoul@zdnetonebox.com"
1.0 out of 5 stars Sorry, Poul, I gave up.
I will usually stick with a book through to the end. If it starts bad, I can hope for a smashing ending or a pickup in the story about the middle of the book. Read more
Published on Feb. 19 2001 by Larry Eischen
2.0 out of 5 stars boring... bad characterizaion... blech!
Given that this novel is titled "The Boat of a Million Years" and prominently features a space ship on the front cover, I read through 370+ pages asking myself "so... Read more
Published on Sept. 12 2000 by R. Hubbard
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