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Nov 18, 2009

Eternal Perspective


There are several online reviews and essays about Isaac Asimov's time travel novel The End of Eternity; one the longest is by Don Webb in Bewildering Stories.

About a year and a half ago I started acting on the crazy idea that it might be fun to write a sequel to The End of Eternity. I started calling that sequel The Start of Eternity. There are some past blog posts (see also the blog posts listed at the bottom of this page) about how I view The End of Eternity as an integral part of Asimov's "future history" of robots and the Foundation.

Don Webb wrote this about The End of Eternity: "It has no robots, no Galactic Empire, and no Foundations." However, Asimov linked The End of Eternity to the rest of his "future history" in his novel Foundation's Edge. Asimov wrote that robots created Eternity and used time travel to make it possible for humans to take over the entire galaxy. If we accept Asimov's suggestion that Eternity was a tool used by robots to fulfill the demands of the Zeroth Law then we can imagine that robots were lurking, unseen, in the background of The End of Eternity.

One of the remarkable features of Asimov's robots such as Daneel Olivaw is that they have telepathic powers. Don Webb says flatly that telepathy does not appear at all in The End of Eternity. However, Asimov wrote into The End of Eternity the idea that telepathy was used to introduce into Andrew Harlan's mind the idea that Cooper the Cub was really Vikkor Mallansohn. If so, then we can imagine telepathic robots who created Eternity, used it as a means to travel back and forth through Earth's history and then, ultimately, used Harlan (and Noÿs Lambent) as the means to end Eternity.

Andrew and Noÿs travel back in time to the 1930s and engineer a Reality Change that starts humanity on the path towards the Galactic Empire that is described in the Foundation novels. We must view Andrew and Noÿs as the puppets of telepathic robots who have decided that Eternity and time travel are a dead end for humanity.

If you look carefully in the image at the top of this blog post, you can get a glimpse of a telepathic robot named Rycleu, one of the secret masters of Eternity who meets with Andrew and Noÿs in the first chapter of The Start of Eternity and helps them alter the course of technological developments on Earth, allowing humans on Earth to start manufacturing positronic robots in the 20th century.

Image. The image at the top of this blog post is from the first chapter of The Start of Eternity. For image credits see this page.

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