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The Boat of a Million Years Hardcover – November, 1989

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Editorial Reviews

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.

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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 470 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (November 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312931999
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312931995
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,442,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Maximiliano F Yofre on February 21, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Boat of a Million Years " is one of the best novels written by Poul Anderson.

It is constructed as a series of short stories telling about immortal people (or almost immortal). The different characters crisscross their ways along centuries and millennia. The outcomes of these encounters are sometimes friendly, sometimes antagonistic; never innocuous.

Poul Anderson show his talent to mix action, drama and humor with deep meditations about meaning of life, ethics, gender conflict, ethnic discrimination and many subjects more. He includes accurate different historical backgrounds for each episode ranging from ancient Greece thru far future.

The story is great; it mainly follows Phoenician seaman Hanno in his eternal quest to find more people like him. He is very special. He never get sick or old, his teeth grows up again when he loose one, he recover very quickly from injuries.

He soon discover that his bless is also his curse. He remains unchanged yet consorts and descents grow old, die and vanish. Neighbors usually react violently to his "witchery" blaming him to practice strange deals with demons.

To evade these circumstances Hanno becomes a master in changing personalities and evading suspicion.

The narrative starts to catch momentum and conclude with a very interesting piece situated in a far future full of new possibilities.

Take a joyful romp thru it, you won't be disappointed!

Reviewed by Max Yofre.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Elisabeth Carey on October 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is solid, if rambling, Anderson fun: scenes from the lives of a small group of immortals as they learn to hide their nature and cope with the natural suspicions of their short-lived compatriots. The oldest is Hanno, a Phoenician sailor, and the youngest is an African-American slave who eventually uses the name Corinne Macandal. The others who make it to the end of book are Aliyat (Syrian), Svoboda (Ukrainian), Tu Shan (Chinese), Yukiko (Japanese), John Wanderer (Native American), and Patulcius (Roman). Agelessness is not enough to ensure long lives, and we meet other immortals along the way, who from carelessness, bad luck, or deliberate choice, don't survive to share the ultimate fate of the eight survivors. Or rather, as they come to be known, Survivors.

Most of the book consists of the adventures the individual immortals in various well-devoloped ancient settings. Hanno joins a Greek expedition to Britain and Scandinavia. Aliyat lives too long in Palmyra while it is changing from a Christian to a Muslim city, and escapes the harem to become a prostitute--in Constantinople for a while, where she briefly meets Hanno, who has become a Rus trader. (Well, Welsh, really, for certain values of "really," but the Byzantines regard him as Rus.) Svoboda, already a great-grandmother, leaves her village before she can be killed for witchcraft, to become a merchant's wife in Kiev (and briefly meets Hanno), and later a nun, and still later a Cossack and then a soldier for Mother Russia during the Second World War. (Not for the USSR; the Soviets are better than the Nazis for Svoboda's people, but not much.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By George Baxter on September 10, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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. (This is as opposed to David Brin.. who is hugely optimistic.)
In this book he presents a set of characters that, by accident of genetics, find themselves immortal. We follow them from pre- or barely- historical times well into the future. Through their eyes we watch humankind as a whole struggle, achieve, fail, die and live. We watch these immortals as they set themselves apart
for survival reasons.. twice.
The grand sweep of the book through humankind's history is wonderful. The book gets a bit lost at the end.. we wander too far from humanity, though it is a natural conclusion. In the end, perhaps... it is not the book that wandered too far, but humanity itself.
Wonderful story, wonderful storytelling...
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 12, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the first (and so far only) Poul Anderson book I read, so I did not know what to expect. After reading throught the first few chapters, it appeared that it was just a series of tales about being immortal during different periods in history. It was very interesting to see it all coalesce into one final resolution (though not a final conclusion). This book is very unusual and thought-provoking, and I recommend it for anyone who is looking more for original ideas instead of standard future-time stories (most of this novel takes place in the past, starting at 500BC(?). It is not always an instant page-turner, but leaves you with a feeling of awe.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bart Leahy on March 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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