I’m just going to say it: aside from a few select novels and stories, Asimov annoys the hell out of me and is, I think, one of science fiction’s most overrated authors ever. There! Start stoning me now. I’m prepared. I know I have blasphemed. I have read a hell of a lot of Asimov, including all of the Foundation novels and all of the Robot novels, including the extra Robot-inspired books, as well as other books, and I’m always astonished – and always mentioning in my reviews – at what a below average writer I think Asimov was, particularly as a young writer. He barely knew grammatical rules, such as how to use transitions. He knew practically nothing about character development, little about plot development, and wrote the absolute worst dialogue of any type of literature of any author I have ever read anywhere, and I have read tens of thousands of books over the course of my life! The WORST dialogue ever! I’m not joking. The most wooden, stilted, unconvincing, academic, formal, boring, inauthentic excuse for dialogue I’ve ever seen in any novel form anywhere. I have three college degrees and have 13 years of university study. I’ve published 15 books of my own. My own poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and criticism have appeared in magazines, newspapers, zines, peer reviewed journals, online magazines and journals, and elsewhere in hundreds and hundreds of sources in dozens of countries in numerous languages and one of my books was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. I have taught literature and writing at three universities and colleges. I feel like I have some credentials. I feel confident when I say that I feel that there are literally dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of science fiction writers who are better writers and perhaps even scientifically superior to Asimov. His legacy is vastly inflated. But that’s my opinion, and as has been pointed out regularly in my negative reviews of his books, my opinion is worth shit regarding his books.
All that said, I’m going to skip the main synopsis of this book, other than to say it’s about time travel and is fairly innovative, especially for such an early time travel book, having been published in 1955. Pretty original, and I appreciated that. What I want to point out instead is something that I’ve pointed out for some previous books and something that several other reviewers have pointed out for this book, although to my total shock, not very many people at all. Asimov, the total misogynistic pig, is in top form in creating one female character in this book whose primary purpose is to be the sexual crush and ultimate seducer (because, after all, she IS a female, and that’s what they do to good men, right?) of our brave and good protagonist, Andrew Harlan, the Eternal. The beautiful, non-Eternal, Noys Lambent, a secretary or assistant of some sort, because after all, that’s what women do, aside from the scientist in I, Robot, creates a conflict with Andrew because women aren’t supposed to be part of the good old boy’s club in Eternity, his world, meaning he’s never gotten laid, I guess, so when she makes herself available on her world to him, he goes for it, initially feeling a little guilty, then goes for it with gusto and is drawn into her sinful female web, allowing Eternity to possibly be destroyed. Nice. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Asimov write entire novels with either no female characters or just one or two minor background characters who comb their hair in their bedrooms (Foundation, anyone?). Sometimes there’s a more major female character, but they’re either helpless and dependent on a strong male lead (robot novels) or are seductresses (robot novels). To Asimov, women are evil and/or dangerous. Yet somehow he was married. Was he merely a product of his times, was he secretly gay, or was he a stereotypical engineering/science nerd who was an academic social misfit, scared to death of females, yet strangely married to one? Or none of the above? Why did he hate women so much? Yet why in his later books, like the Prelude to Foundation books, did he write in strong female characters? Did he actually grow with the times? Did his attitudes actually change? Maybe they did. Maybe there was hope. Maybe he was a 1940s/50s-era misogynistic product of his time who didn’t know any better than the Nuclear Era Virgin/Whore Syndrome and who wrote that into his novels. If so, fairly pathetic and that goes to show what a weak writer he truly was, backing up my original claim. But then, he wouldn’t have been the only one, so fair’s fair, I suppose.
In any event, I’m one of the very few to level this accusation against him regarding this or any book. The critics seem evenly split between genders, while the five star fans also seem evenly split between genders. In other words, just as many women love this book as men and apparently most women have no problems with him writing his only female character into the book as a stereotypical seductress whore intent upon making a male protagonist trip up and destroy Eternity. Apparently, women readers have no problems with this. While I find that astonishing, again, I am in the vast minority. I want to give this book a low rating, but at the same time, it was highly original, so that deserves a higher rating, so in fairness, I’m going to compromise and give it three stars. I think that’s a fair rating, given my criticisms versus its originality. Recommended for early sci fi time travel originality. Not recommended for fine quality literature.