Before reading this book, I always imagined Eternity as an existence after life on Earth. Asimov’s construction of Eternity is that of an organization that co-exists with life on Earth, but outside the boundaries of time. More from Wikipedia:
It is staffed by male humans called Eternals who are recruited from different eras of human history commencing with the twenty-seventh century. The Eternals are capable of traveling “upwhen” and “downwhen” within Eternity and entering the conventional temporal world at almost any point of their choice, apart from a section of the far future which they cannot enter. Collectively they form a corps of Platonic guardians who carry out carefully calculated and planned strategic minimum actions, called Reality Changes, within the temporal world in order to minimize human suffering as integrated over the whole of (future) human history.
Quite a fascinating concept. But more than that, Asimov’s The End of Eternity makes a strong—and still relevant—critique of human ideology.
Safety and security. Moderation. Nothing in excess. No risks without overwhelming certainty of an adequate return.
These are the things many people consider a good way of living. Asimov’s The End of Eternity puts this ideology on trial:
In ironing out the disasters of Reality, Eternity rules out the triumphs as well. It is in meeting the great tests that mankind can most successfully rise to great heights. Out of danger and restless insecurity comes the force that pushes mankind to newer and loftier conquests.
The End of Eternity also makes interesting commentary on broader topics such as government policy making, our reliance on machines and machine-learning and the ever-growing role technology plays in our everyday lives.
All in all, The End of Eternity was a good, quick read. I’m a science fiction fan and knew of Asimov’s works, but this is the first one I’ve read. It definitely has me excited to read more. If you’re like me, maybe a bit cautious of committing to some of Asimov’s other lengthier works, like The Foundation Series, I would recommend this book as a good introduction to the author.