The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov

details
Title: The End of Eternity.
Writer(s): Isaac Asimov.
Publisher: Fawcett Crest.
Format: Mass Market Paperback.
Release Date: 1971 (First Published in 1955).
Pages: 192.
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Classics.
ISBN13:  9780449016190.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

thoughts

The power to affect past, present, and future through subtle changes across time is not without its own fair share of severe consequences. The mere discipline that it takes to control one’s own individual desires to manipulate time in our own favour is one of the many prerequisites for such an ability to exist without seeing to the end of the world. It would indeed take a very organized, almost manipulative, organization to regulate these individuals but one can’t help but wonder if such a concept can ever truly exist. Known for his Foundation and Robot series, writer Isaac Asimov explores an all-too-familiar idea of time travel through one man’s dance with love despite the duty he’s taken upon himself and established as his sole purpose in life.

What is The End of Eternity about? Andrew Harlan is an Eternal who works for Eternity, an organization outside time, meddling with it for the good of humanity. As a Technician, he specializes in the application of reality changes in the optic of increasing the happiness of humanity across time and making sure that Eternity sees to its existence. Sent forward into time to teach a non-Eternal woman about the Primitive period, he unexpectedly falls in love with her and seeks ways to alter time despite the countless issues of cause-and-effect that he could run into to avoid her erasure in time due to an eventual reality change. Desperately searching for a way to navigate through these loops that he knows too well, his actions lead him to embrace risky outcomes that could have unparalleled repercussions on Eternity. Led by his selfish reasons, only time will tell if he’ll do everything it takes to get everything he wants.

“The final end of Eternity, and the beginning of Infinity.”

— Isaac Isamov

They sometimes say that with great power comes great responsibility. Unfortunately for Andrew Harlan, falling in love with a non-Eternal leads him to stumble into a severe deluge of questionable decisions, bringing him to break free from everything he once swore to never fancy. Written with a touch of accessibility, mostly accentuated by a simple and straight-forward organizational system built behind the foundation of Eternity and the basic parameters of time travel written within the role of Eternals, the story’s solid pacing develops its intrigue and suspense as readers’ wonder what Andrew Harlan would do to get away with the sins he commits. While the plot twists keep on stacking up throughout the story, especially with the final reveal that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, it is the caveats encountered, the paradoxes superficially explored, and the reevaluation of a deterministic vision of humankind that allows for an intriguing reading experience.

Withstanding the test of time, the story offers a relatively addictive mystery that continuously leaves you pondering the questions that Andrew Harlan has to ask himself. Unfortunately, characterization and dialogue aren’t writer Isaac Isamov’s strongsuit in this stand-alone story as they remain simplistic and depthless in the grand scheme of things. It doesn’t help that the insta love story at the heart of this adventure is one that barely helps the reader invest themselves in their temporal and existential crisis. In fact, with only one woman in the story, essentially showcased as the root cause in the potential demise of Eternity, it does leave the reader wondering how humanity ever came down to such a patriarchal system where wisdom is so poorly assimilated, effortlessly crumbling at the hand of love. Nonetheless, released in the 50s, there’s no denying that this tale remains somewhat groundbreaking for its period even if there are greater stories focused on time travel written since.

The End of Eternity is an enjoyable yet prosaic story with unremarkable characters that explores time travel and the things humankind would do in the name of love.


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24 thoughts on “The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov

  1. This is why I haven’t re-read much Asimov. His short stories are masterful but as soon as he moves into “novel” territory, well, he’s just not a good writer for that format 😦

    Are you picking his stuff at random or what is driving you to read his non-foundation stuff?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel like that might in fact be the conclusion I’ll eventually get to when I’ll have read more of this stuff…

      I’ve been meaning to check this one out for a while, thinking that it was going to be as impressive as his Foundation trilogy but kept on postponing my read. It’s been almost 5 years since I’ve read the trilogy too. I’ll probably either check out his Robot series or short story collections by him next but I’ll also probably put that off for a while with The End of Eternity not making me want to get through his stuff any faster hahah

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d recommend his short story collections before the robot series. I’m not sure if the robot series are novels or short stories too. I think they’re novels, so everything applies to them that you mention in this review.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I know I read this book way back when (at least 40 years ago) and I’ve now discovered that I don’t remember anything about it… The story’s premise is an intriguing one, but I know, from a recent attempt at an Asimov re-read, that his style might not be right for me anymore…
    Interesting review, thank you so much for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Considering how unimpressed I am by this one, I can’t blame you for not remembering anything at all, even if it’s been 40 years hahaha I wouldn’t charge into a reread of this in the near future too. What did you try rereading by him that didn’t work too well for you? 😮 Thanks for reading, Maddalena! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When the Foundation TV series was announced I tried re-read the book series, which I remembered quite fondly, but unfortunately my tastes in writing style have changed considerably, and I found that Asimov’s prose tended to the slow and ponderous, so I abandoned the attempt… 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, it is quite interesting that Asimov wrote about love too. I have only read two of the Foundations books by him, and I am curious to read more (or at least, to finish the series) and I am ignorant of most of his works, to be honest, but this review was informative and really interesting! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well I can’t reconcile your rating with your review Lashaan. I would have expected three stars… color me confused but it’s also been a very long day 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve not read this one. And to be honest I’ve not read as much Asimov as I’d like. I will add to what others have said about some of his short stories being very good, especially when going for a concept sort of story. Sometimes a novel is just a little too long for some concepts. Granted, novels back then were the novellas of today. 🙂 I did recently read I, Robot, and as I recall it was really more a collection of inter-related stories that explored the potential consequences of his laws of robotics. Not spectacular but interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t say I’ve read a lot by him either but my first experience of his writing is the Foundation trilogy which was a conceptually fantastic series. It does seem like he masters his concepts better than his characters though and I’ll probably steer more towards his novellas going forward. I, Robot is one of those collections of stories that I hope to give a try in the near future too.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. WTH is up with Isaac Aimov. Was it his anniversary of death recently or something? I watched two TV series in the past week or two that mentioned him in one form or another. And now you… Deeply suspicious.

    As far as the read is concerned – sounds average, but not bad.

    Liked by 1 person

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