The book I'm looking for was about a ship launched from a dying earth to colonize another planet. The story is told in flashbacks and the main character has dreams about past lives while hibernating.

  • 4
    Should that be a dying Earth? More details would help a lot. There are a lot of books that center around leaving a doomed Earth.
    – Joe L.
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 3:19

3 Answers 3


Possibly The Dream Millennium, James White, 1974.

John Devlin, a 26-year-old medical doctor, is the captain of a sleeper ship built to colonize planets in other solar systems. The spacecraft's trajectory is such that it will make passes of eleven[3] stars thought to have a good chance of supporting habitable planets, over the course of about a thousand years. Most of the starship's systems are automated, so Devlin does not have to do much maintenance, but he is required to look at potential planets for colonization and solve problems as they arise. Except for being awoken at long intervals to eat, exercise, and perform his duties as captain, Devlin spends all of his time in hibernation, during which he dreams the entire lives of people and other creatures that lived and died on Earth in the past.


"I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon" is the title of a short story by Philip K. Dick with the same topic. It is also known as "Frozen Journey".

In the story, a man (Victor Kemmings) regains consciousness during a failed attempt at cryosleep on board a spaceship. The ship's artificial intelligence cannot repair the malfunction and cannot wake him, so Kemmings is doomed to remain conscious but paralyzed through the ship's entire ten-year-long journey. To maintain his sanity, the A.I. replays Kemmings's memories to him.

  • It's a possible match. It looks like his past memories, not past lives, but maybe the querent misremembered.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 17:19

You may be thinking of Old Twentieth (2005) by Joe Haldeman. The book is set on a fleet of spaceships, making the thousand-year journey from Earth to another star system.

Most of the people on board are immortal due to medical advances, and they pass the time using a virtual-reality system called "The Time Machine", experiencing simulations of events from the 20th century. People start to die while in the simulated environment, and the man who maintains the system has to investigate.

Here are some reviews of the book. It has a page at ISFDB.

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