|1971 - Cover art by Paul Lehr.|
This was the edition of The End of Eternity
that I first owned during my SF golden age.
|1956 - Harlan and Noÿs|
The beginning of Infinity
Many of Asimov's novels are not easy reading and once you know the plot there is not much reward from reading them again. What makes The End of Eternity different? Why do I keep returning to read this novel Time after Time?
|Cover art from the 1st edition, 1955|
|1956 Urania magazine|
Our protagonist, Harlan, is part of Eternity, a kind of club for men only, a technology-driven system for guiding the course of human civilization into the future.
my current copy
|1958 Love and betrayal|
Harlan is smitten, but his complete inexperience with women and his dedication to Eternal ideals causes him to react with anger, lashing out at his boss, Computer Finge. When he learns that he must under-take a mission in Time and reside for a week with Noÿs in her comfortable home in the 482nd century he objects: "there is some mistake".
Only later does Harlan learn that this is no mistake, but rather Harlan is being used to test the rumor that women of the 482nd century have come to believe that by making love to an Eternal they can live forever. Noÿs proceeds to confirm the rumor, apparently the rumor was started by her -all as part of a plot to make use of Harlan as her tool, the tool that she needs to destroy Eternity.
|Am Ende der Ewigkeit|
|La fin de l'éternité|
By the end of Asimov's story, we see how the weaknesses of the male-dominated Eternity made the organization an easy target for Noÿs. Like a house of cards, Noÿs was able to bring down Eternity simply by pulling on one card- Harlan.
21st Century Sci Fi Propaganda
|If repeated often enough then does it become true?|
|An Ek'col and an Asterothrope|
At the end of Asimov's novel, Eternity has been destroyed. Harlan and Noÿs are in the Primitive, ready to live out their lives in the 20th century. But is that the end? For decades I was not satisfied to abandon Harlan and Noÿs to their new life in the Primitive. The Foundations of Eternity was intended as a sequel to The End of Eternity. Noÿs is revealed to be an Asterothrope, a new species from the far future, crafted from human genes, but designed to facilitate the colonization of new worlds.
Turnabout is fair play. I later discovered that there was more to the story than could fit into The Foundations of Eternity. Trysta and Ekcolir tells the story of how, once in the Primitive, Noÿs discovers that her mission to change the course of history is not yet complete. Harlan is abducted by aliens and taken to the Moon. Now using her cover name, Trysta, Noÿs is herself targeted by a mysterious secret agent, an Ek'col male from the Galactic Core. Trysta falls in love with Ekcolir (he was designed by Grean to be her soul mate) and begins a collaboration with Grean to chart a new future for Earth, one in which Humanity will spread among the stars.
Related Reading: the man who invented Eternity
Time Travel and Aliens
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