All these years’ time travel looked like a ludicrous topic and any novel based on this was promptly shunned by me. It was only last month that I chanced upon a blog by a Bangalore based writer, wherein he had put out a list of his favourite sci-fi novels, judging that the writer had more literary common sense than me, I decided to give the first novel in the list a shot. The novel was End of eternity by Isaac Asimov.
Asimov is a name very well-known and the reason for his being so famous came across while reading the book. Creating a world well into the future seems to be a task as difficult as walking on the edge of a blade, every sci-fi writer is an inventor in his own way. Foresight into possible technology developments and the ways in which it will influence the society keeping into account the sensibilities of the readers is an unenviable job. Asimov manages to maintain this fine balance with flying colours.
Harlan is an Eternal, the group which controls trade between different centuries as well as affect any changes in reality if bad things happen. Thus the Eternals try to weed out catastrophes such as wars and other disasters by going back in time and rooting out the cause. Harlan is a hard core Eternal and Eternals are not allowed female company, in fact the Eternals are solely comprised of male population pulled from different centuries. As is bound to happen, Harlan falls in love with a beautiful dame when he is on a mission (Seems like Salman’s Ek tha tiger has some reverberation with the story hereJ). The love blossoms and Harlan starts breaking the rules of the Eternity one by one. In spite of the fact that his misdemeanour could jeopardise the existence of eternity he continuous in his quest to save his love. Where will Harlan’s love lead him to and whether Eternity manage to save itself from the madness wreaked by its rules forms the crux of the novel.
Time travel through more than one lakh centuries (the number made my eye to pop out, luckily the sockets were strong J) and questions on evolution of mankind based on past actions, whether it be good or bad raises some thought provoking questions. Overall, even though the novel is completely fictional, it is a very cerebral work and I would recommend it to a general audience as well and not just restrict it to sci-fi bozos.