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More on the Social Ramifications of Time Travel

By Diana | Books | June 14, 2010 |

By Diana | Books | June 14, 2010 |

I chose this book for a quick read, and it was. I’ve enjoyed Asimov’s Foundation series (original trilogy) and his short story and essay collections.

The End of Eternity is seen through the eyes of Andrew Harlan, a time technician for the organization Eternity. Eternals live outside of time as we know it. They can travel up and down through a created time tunnel in lifts called kettles. Technicians calculate changes needed throughout various centuries to minimize human suffering and war and keep humanity balanced. They work each time to make the smallest change possible that will lead to the desired results. For whatever reason, they are unable to penetrate the centuries beyond the 70,000th. They can only go as far back as the 27th century, when time travel was discovered. This is why we “primitives” don’t know about Eternity.

Harlan has an interest in Primitive history, and his studies will assist him when he discovers the importance he plays in the very existence of Eternity. He realizes that humanity’s growth is stifled through Eternity’s interference. For one thing, humans fail again and again at developing space travel.

It is interesting to note the lack of women in Eternity. It is later explained that it is easier to take a man out of a century than a woman. A woman’s total effects on history are nearly impossible to calculate.

Harlan makes contact with someone from the unreachable centuries who doesn’t want Eternity to be invented, and this person wants Harlan to help end Eternity instead of creating it.

What to do, what to do?

Asimov creates a world with a foreign yet credible reality. While he doesn’t delve into the mechanics of time travel, we are plunged into the social ramifications of it. If given the opportunity, should we interfere?

This review is part of the Cannonball Read series. For more of Diana’s reviews, check out her blog, Badinage.

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