The End Of Eternity (Science Fiction Book Club 50th Anniversary Collection) - Isaac Asimov I don't know whether I began reading Asimov's nonfiction or fiction works first. I do know that I wrote a fan letter to him and actually got a reply back. Granted, it was a form-letter postcard but it was still pretty "cool" that I was "corresponding" with an actual author.

I was also very selective in what I read. I enjoyed the first three books of the Foundation but I never had any desire to read any of the Robot novels, and subsequent Foundation novels were disappointing (with the brilliant exception of Kingsbury's [book:Psychohistorical Crisis], I stopped after [book:Foundation and Earth]). "Nightfall" is one of my favorite short stories but off the top of my head I can't remember any other Asimov short that I've read. Even at the age of thirteen (or so), I recognized something lacking; he was a competent enough writer and the hard SF ideas he played with were interesting but the writing itself often lacked that "certain something" that made me want to read more.

The End of Eternity is in that category. I've had a hankering to reread it for the last few months. When I saw a copy on my library's shelf, I grabbed it. It rates a 2.5 on the GR scale because it raises some interesting notions about time travel and the idea that only by risking great suffering and catastrophic failure can a person or a species achieve great success. A notion that has informed my own view of the world, and whose origins, to some extent, can doubtless be traced back to reading this book. Elsewise, characters and plot are subordinated to the "idea" of Eternity and its deleterious effects on humanity.

As an aside, Mark Rosenfelder's webpage has a marvelous dissection of the entire Foundation series, both Asimov's sequels and the other volumes written by Bear, Brin & Kingsbury here.