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on 15 July 2005
If you, like me, are interested in the many paradoxes of time travel, then this book will stimulate your imagination to the full. In one of the few books that has ever prompted me to immediately re-read it, Asimov explores a world in which selected individuals are "extracted" from the normal flow of time and, in a "Foundation"-like way attempt to run back and forth in history to change its course. The world they live in is called "Eternity", hence the title of the book.

But who invented this method of travelling between the material world and Eternity? Or did it invent itself? In a masterpiece of story telling which surely ranks at the pinnacle of Asimov's achievements, our independent-minded hero Harlan runs this idea to its devastating conclusion. You are left guessing right to the very last page, and indeed after it as you try to fathom the paradoxes it raises.

If you read no other Asimov novel, read this one! If you enjoyed The Time Traveler's Wife then read this!
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on 7 February 2003
If you, like me, are interested in the many paradoxes of time travel, then this book will stimulate your imagination to the full. In one of the few books that has ever prompted me to immediately re-read it, Asimov explores a world in which selected individuals are "extracted" from the normal flow of time and, in a "Foundation"-like way attempt to run back and forth in history to change its course. The world they live in is called "Eternity", hence the title of the book.
But who invented this method of travelling between the material world and Eternity? Or did it invent itself? In a masterpiece of story telling which surely ranks at the pinnacle of Asimov's achievements, our independent-minded hero Harlan runs this idea to its devastating conclusion. You are left guessing right to the very last page, and indeed after it as you try to fathom the paradoxes it raises.
If you read no other Asimov novel, read this one!
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on 30 September 2002
'The End of Eternity' is one of my favourite books, so maybe I'm biased; but it is, nevertheless, one of the most intelligent and subtle works of science fiction ever written.
Asimov takes a potentially dry and trite scenario- a company of strangely dedicated pseudo-gods, striving through and outside of time to change the human race's 'destiny'- and breathes into it an invaluable streak of humanity. The characters are believable; and their woes and travails, though far outside the realms of our own experience, are understandable. This is a story that, despite being set in a reality that is strange and sometimes unfathomable, still manages to unfold more like a human drama than anything else.
Asimov reserves the final twist in the story's many convolutions right till the end; when it arrives (at the end of a surprisingly short book), it is a heart-warming surprise. This book may have many morals and many messages, but the one that seems to endure is this: no matter what we accomplish or what we do, we will always be humans, and we will always be able to love.
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on 16 July 2003
Time travel is, of course, a popular theme in SF, and Asimov shows himself to be an SF grandmaster in this excellent and compelling novel.
Andrew Harlan is an Eternal - one of a small band of humans who live "outside time" and can travel to any part of time, from the moment the technique was invented, to billions of years in the future. They have the power to make subtle changes to history so as to avoid undesirable or even catastrophic events. Billions of "Timers" (ordinary people subject to normal time) can be affected without even knowing it.
Unfortunately the awesome power wielded by the Eternals comes at a price, namely, they must be entirely dispassionate regarding the changes they make to history. Alas, when Andrew Harlan falls in love with a woman, destined not to exist in an alternative history, he will do literally anything to keep her, even if it means the destruction of Eternity itself....
This is a highly-readable and thoroughly-enjoyable SF novel from one of the true SF "greats". Top notch.
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on 28 December 2003
This was the Good Doctor's response to Heinlein's seminal 'By His Bootstraps': a time travel novel that adds more to the mix than just man-goes-back-to-meet-his-grandfather.

Asimov envisions a society that has tasked itself with improving the lot of mankind by introducing carefully calculated changes in the time flow, a society of 'Eternals' that live outside of the normal time stream in their own environment constructed with full living habitats in each century, all powered by a thin line to the far future when our sun goes nova. It is a caste society, with each individual rigidly relegated to the status and job they are deemed best suited for, from Maintenance to Computer to Technician. The individuals are recruited from the normal time flow, as the Eternals, by their own rules, are forbidden to have children.

Andrew Harlan is one such recruit, who is quickly tabbed as having the emotional makeup and intellectual skills to be a Technician, one of those who actually implement changes in 'normal' time. Somewhat naive, a little bit of an aesthetic who is somewhat bothered by hedonistic societies that he is sometimes required to observe or change, he finds himself in a quandary when he falls in love with a lady from such a society. Determined to have her, he decides on actions that he knows might bring about the end of Eternity, for he has determined a great secret, just how Eternity was started in the first place.

Asimov unravels the mysteries and paradoxes of this situation in his usual inimitable style, carefully laying down the parameters of the problem, leaving clues lying about here and there (which Harlan, obsessed as he is, blithely ignores), all leading to a grand climax that gives new perspective to the traditional time paradox problem. The idea of time 'inertia', where the effect of changes that are introduced to the time line slowly die out, is an interesting one, and is carefully folded into the plot line. Though other books envisioned a corps of people who manage time, the society shown here is better fleshed out than just about all previous attempts, not to be surpassed until Fritz Leiber's The Big Time. And possibly there would not be another better worked out 'solution' to the basic riddle of the time paradox until Heinlein's 'All You Zombies...' appeared. As an intellectual exercise, then, this book is excellent.

But as is also typical for Asimov, his characterization is somewhat weak, although he does a better job here than in some of his other works. Harlan is too one-dimensional, too driven, a little too arrogant about his own abilities, to be totally believable. Noys, his ladylove, is almost a nonentity, although she will become one of the lynch-pins of the final resolution. And Computer administrator Twissell is very close to a stereotype. Still, the characters are adequate to move the plot, and as this is an idea driven novel, not one of character, this failing is not fatal to the enjoyment of the book.

This is one of the very few Asimov novels that is not part of his Foundation or Robot sets. Read it, if for no other reason, to see just what he could do outside of those confines.

--- Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
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on 7 February 2003
If you, like me, are interested in the many paradoxes of time travel, then this book will stimulate your imagination to the full. In one of the few books that has ever prompted me to immediately re-read it, Asimov explores a world in which selected individuals are "extracted" from the normal flow of time and, in a "Foundation"-like way attempt to run back and forth in history to change its course. The world they live in is called "Eternity", hence the title of the book.
But who invented this method of travelling between the material world and Eternity? Or did it invent itself? In a masterpiece of story telling which surely ranks at the pinnacle of Asimov's achievements, our independent-minded hero Harlan runs this idea to its devastating conclusion. You are left guessing right to the very last page, and indeed after it as you try to fathom the paradoxes it raises.
If you read no other Asimov novel, read this one!
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VINE VOICEon 2 January 2009
With time travel, every year can be 1984...

As ever with Asimov the theme of humanity versus technology is strong, but the issue of personal love is also important to the plot and it's not a subject where Asimov is comfortable as a writer.

But he does tackle the issue of time travel versus space travel, in which time travel enables the whole of human history to be policed and controlled by a benevolent elite - the biggest Big Brother imaginable. In so doing Asimov writes an almost political novel about how too much central planning - even where it is benevolently patriarchal rather than totalitarian - dooms mankind by killing initiative and ultimately the human spirit.

This is where the novel scores highly, in tackling the paradoxes of time travel and making plausible something that is illogical and (surely) impossible. Making this believable for an entire novel is quite an achievement.
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on 22 February 2014
As a child my parents always read Asimov to me, it is not until I got earlier that I started to appreciate actually how beneficially and mentally stimulating Asimov is.

Time travel and manipulation is something that will always be at the edges of adult fantasies, the ability to go back and change things, view times in history, that timeless question "where would you go?" . In his book End of Eternity Asimov gives a detailed insight into what a society based on time travel will be like. One of the great things about Asimov is the amount of detail and background information he gives on everything. The society he paints is one that is vivid and realistic of human nature, the hierarchies and condescending nature of superior classes is something everyone can connect with.

Aside from the creative design and interesting plot line, one of the ways Asimov excels is his human interactions. The snide comments, the feelings of annoyance, obedience, mistrust are all present. Not only that but he handles romance well. Actually well. The relationship is not a Hollywood love story, the characters are realistic and their interactions are far more realistic than some books that claim to be romances.

Studying Physics I find this book particularly fascinating as it tackles paradox's well. I can't say much on this matter without ruining the book, but its one of the few books where you reread certain parts just to be sure its saying what you think it is.

So in conclusion I give this 5/5, its written superbly, comes alive in your mind, and really does make you think, the relationships and characters are enjoyable and do change and develop. Definitely read.
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on 21 September 2010
The control that we have over our destiny and fate is something that has always been a concern of humans. Philosophers and writers have expended thousands of pages exploring the extent that we are able to determine our destiny. In Isaac Asimov's The End of Eternity we have an excellent work that explores this theme of free will and destiny. Asimov writes a tale that at its heart is about how what we chose determines what our reality is, and who should have control over our destiny, this is delivered in an fascinating plot that revolves around the paradoxes of time travel.

The writing for the most part is clear and engaging, and whilst he never fully develops the characters beyond the one dimensional images we get a glimpse at, the strength of the philosophically dense plot is sufficient to maintain interest in the story. Asimov allows the complexity of the narrative to unfold out in an unexpected series of revelations concerning the nature of Eternity and reality. The crux of the book is the organisation called Eternity, a group of time-travellors who observe the course of history and intervene in its path in order to improve the end result in a utilitarian manner and reduce the suffering in the universe as a whole, however manipulating the past through the myriad of cause and effect relationships is a complex procedure and in the end has serious repercussions for humanity and its future existence.

The central tension in the book is that between the desires of the individual and the desires of the organisation. Harlan a product of the system, who is indoctrinated in the dogma of the group starts to struggle to reconcile his allegiance to Eternity when it starts to conflict with his own personal desires. This conflict arises when he meets a female from the outside called Noys, and the dispassionate Harlan finds himself victim to the phenomena of love, when Harlan discovers Noys existence is in threat, he then starts to violate the code of practice to save Noys and his love.

The narration throughout is tight and controlled with Asimov laying out the parameters of the problem with sufficient clues to guide but withholding enough to keep the fascination of the reader. We are guided through the story via the eyes of Harlan, who seems to driven without sufficient motive to be believable. Likewise his companion Noys is presented as a non-entity and never fully developed yet turns out to be crucial to the plot, making it difficult for the final revelation to have the potency it needs. Whilst the weak characters, the precision and depth in the analysis and exploration of the philosophical issues of time travel more then makes up for this. The End of Eternity is a thought provoking work, with a powerful enough idea to drive home its point that in the end each of us our masters of our own destiny.
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VINE VOICEon 4 December 2002
I read this because The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction said it "...is a complex story of time travel and time paradoxes, considered by some critics to be his best work." I thought I probably didn't like Asimov too much but I thought I better read his best work before I wrote him off!
It was so long since I read the Foundation series that I could't remember much of it but I thought this novel was probably much better. I enjoyed it from the start to the finish, although I wouldn't go as far as saying that I couldn't put it down - I don't think Asimov's books really have that trait.
I like time travel stories and this is quite a good example. The 'hero' is a member of 'Eternity' able to travel to 'anywhen' past the 23rd century to the very far future, i.e. when our sun goes nova. The time-scales involved immediately impressed me when on the first page "...he was moving upwhen to the 2456th Century." However, most of the action takes place inside eternity so we don't find out much about what the earth is like in future centuries.
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