The End of Eternity

Isaac Asimov


This is Isaac Asimov`s only major foray into the realm of time travel. When it first came out, some people reckoned that the plot was rather convoluted and twisty, but this is a danger of all time travel novels and it is nowhere near as bad, for example, as John Varley's novelisation of the film Millennium.

Andrew Harlan is an Eternal, a member of an elite band of men whose role is to modify the outcome of key events in history.

Taken out of Time as a young boy, Andrew is only slowly made aware of the true nature of Eternity. One that is difficult to come to terms with. For time that the young Harlan had thought to be immutable turns out to be, in the hands of the Eternals, anything but! Whole areas of human achievement wiped from existence as if they had never been. Indeed, they had never been, erased from being by an action as simple as a can not being on the correct shelf.

As he grows up in this strange society, Harlan finds himself being directed towards being a Technician. In the eyes of the rest of the Eternals, Technicians are less than the maintenance staff that keep Eternity running for it's a Technician's job to actually translate the changes decreed by the Computers and their computaplexes into the actions required to make the events come out as required. Always the ripples of change spreading out from their point of inception, building to a peak before fading beyond detectability. Always the aim of the Eternals is to improve the lot of their entimed colleagues but such changes are getting harder and harder to make.

Despite doing well as a Technician, Harlan becomes ever more disaffected with his lot. A disaffection that is fuelled by the head of his station seeming to pick on him. A disaffection fuelled by the provocative presence of a young woman. By some quirk of fate, few women can be inducted into the ranks of the Eternals and the scantily garbed local is an affront to his sensibilities and Harlan is horrified when he learns that he is to join her in her own home!

It's not until Harlan is introduced to the great Twissle, the best computer in Eternity, that he began to get an inkling of the strange fate that lay in his future. But will he decide to act for Eternity, or for his new-found love?

In actually having an active love affair, this is another unusual aspect for Dr Asimov's work.

This is a Gollancz Classic Science Fiction edition

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