I’m a few chapters into this book by Asimov. It’s better than the other two I’ve read so far. I don’t really know why. It came out in 1955, just about the same time as Pebble and Foundation. I mean, I know what’s better about it. It’s a more interesting concept than the other two–Eternity is a realm outside of most of human history where a cadre of men Keep an Eye on Things, and them meddle a bit to Make Them Better.
The characterizations are stronger. The conflicts are more sharply defined, and the dialog sections illuminate character and conflict much, much more than being expository. And the narrator is telling a story, dropping bits of explanation of the concept, and the rules of the world in ways to keep the story moving, rather than giving us little mini-lectures.
I mentioned previously that it looks like (on admittedly thin evidence) Asimov doesn’t care to write women characters. There almost no women working in Eternity, except–naturally–as domestics. And the one our hero sees is GORGEOUS, and she’s from an era of Time when the fashions are plastic wrap, so she walks around all practically naked and stuff! Yikes! He gets all flummoxed, and distracted and crap, because the cadre of Eternals are all manly-man military engineer-types.
But, but… at least there’s an in-story rational for why there are no women in Eternity. The people selected to work in the cadre have to be both mentally and psychologically up to the task–it’s a lot of work, and making changes to Reality is emotionally taxing (all those lives changed, or even snuffed out)–but also they had to be non-crucial. And while women are capable, for some reason women are orders of magnitude more likely than men to be crucial. It’s like Edith Keeler all over (but earlier, I guess, by about 15 years).