This stand-alone work is widely regarded as Asimov's best science-fiction novel.
Andrew Harlan is an Eternal, a member of the elite of the future. One of the few who live in Eternity, a location outside of place and time, Harlan's job is to create carefully controlled and enacted Reality Changes. These Changes are small, exactingly calculated shifts in the course of history, made for the benefit of humankind.
Though each Change has been made for the greater good, there are also always costs. During one of his assignments, Harlan meets and falls in love with Noÿs Lambert, a woman who lives in real time and space. Then Harlan learns that Noÿs will cease to exist after the next Change, and he risks everything to sneak her into Eternity.
©1955 Isaac Asimov. All rights reserved. (P)2010 BBC Audiobooks America
“His most effective piece of work. Asimov’s exemplary clarity in plotting is precisely suited to the material at hand. Asimov’s engagement with the present is clearer here than in his other works, as is his engagement with the human.” (Locus)
"Asimov’s flirtation with the tropes employed by A. E. van Vogt and Charles Harness is startling for an author deemed ultra-rational and scientific....The effects of this influential, seminal book echo to the present, in the works of such writers as Greg Egan, John Varley, Kage Baker, and Greg Bear." (SciFi.com)
I love a good time travel story, mostly to see what this author's take on the usual time travel paradoxes will be. Anyone who writes about agents changing history has to explain how they deal with things like the Grandfather Paradox, meeting earlier or later versions of yourself, and so on. There are a handful of well-known ways to deal with these issues (alternate timelines, a deterministic universe, special laws of temporal physics, etc.) and Asimov is rather inventive in using several of them at once.
The End of Eternity is brilliant in its construction of a civilization of time travelers and the history and technology that goes into their society and the way they meddle with time, but his protagonists are basically a bunch of whiny geeks who act like highly-educated monkeys fighting for the highest branch in the treehouse. Asimov's vision of a civilization that spans millions of years and thousands of realities doesn't include a single one where women become scientists and engineers and might join the Eternals' boys' club. The entire plot hinges on not one but two high-ranking Eternals who decide they are willing to throw all of reality into danger for the chance to get laid. I know this was written in the 1950s, but Asimov could have done better. It's like the idea of women as anything but sex objects to be coveted or to seduce men off the path of Righteous Scientific Objectivity just never occurred to him. So naturally when a girl shows up (the only female character in the entire book), she must spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E, and in this case, the end of Eternity.
I enjoyed the story, but Isaac Asimov has never been my favorite among the Grand Old Masters of science fiction; there is something just a little too cold and calculating in all of his stories. For the ideas and the plot twists, this is a fun book with a great premise, but don't expect Asimov to wow you with his nuanced grasp of human relationships. His characters are wire dummies to hang a story on.
I don't know if I can finish this book. The narrator's ability to very deliberately speak each word as if it stood on its own rather than in the flow of a sentence is maddening. Listen to a sample and see if its something you can stomach on your commute. Also when character's are being "emotional" we are treated to a particularly annoying whiny voice that has only one timbre.
Otherwise the book is decent, though I find the main character's motivation a little hyperbolic and rash without enough exploration by Asmiov as to why. It ends up feeling forced in order to push the dramatic plotline along.
We really like the book, not the reader. He was far too flat an emotionless. Just doesn't sound like the Asimov I've heard in my heard for years; almost the opposite.
This is probably a pretty good book. It's a very interesting premise. But, it is impossible to listen to.
This book is extremely hard to get into.
The premise seems interesting enough. But I feel like I need an instruction manual just to understand what was happening in the first paragraph.
I enjoyed this book. The ending surprised me, but it was a good ending. Well worth the listen/read on this book.
Asimov is always great, and I really enjoyed this story. He has a very creative vision for time travel and the type of situations it could create. However, the narration was very painful for me to listen to. The narrator sounded like he was reading the dictionary.
The reading of this book is so disconnected from the story that it's actually difficult to follow. It's like the reader has no idea what the story is about—just a series of words he's pronouncing. I've re-started listening to this audiobook three times, and each time given up after only a few minutes.
Too bad—I suspect this is a really good book.
The immensely complex ideas around time travel and the possible consequences they entail.
It's a bit like Eon, by Greg Bear, only more complicated due to the concept of multiple realities coinciding alongside one another. Bear's work is also much more character-driven than Asimov's.
"Correct". "Impersonal", yet extremely "Apt" for this book.
The ideas around multiple realities and reality changes boggle the mind at first. It made me lose some of my focus while driving - which is hardly recommended! It was a fascinating read/listen nonetheless.
Other reviewers have called the narrator's performance boring and even bland. While there is some merit to those comments, I would like to emphasise it does get better as you progress. Perhaps it's just a matter of getting used to the reader's voice, or maybe, the narrator's performance is just appropriate for this kind of story. I'd say it's the latter.
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