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The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Eon and Eternity are among the most ambitious science-fiction novels ever published. They chronicle a number of futures for the human race and perhaps the most sweeping, speculative, and awesome future history ever proposed.

On December 31, 1999, Earths scientists are nervous. A mysterious asteroid called the Stone has suddenly come into orbit around Earth. When American space missions explore the Stone, they find that it not only seems to have been inhabited by humans but to have been occupied more than a millennium ago.

The other side of this enigma is glimpsed when veteran Hexamon operative Olmy reports to his superior, the presiding minister of Axis City. Axis City is a settlement of humans, in the far future, who have explored a relativistic cosmic continuum called the Way and established themselves there in commerce and rivalry with various alien peoples. The leaders of the Hexamon, which is the political structure of the humans in the Way, are stunned to find out that Thistledown, the asteroid spaceship from which their ancestors had set out from Earth more than a thousand years before, had not only returned to its original orbit but gone back to a time three hundred years before it had been constructed. Olmy returns to Thistledown in order to explore further.

Meanwhile, the American expedition explores the asteroids seven chambers and finds out much of the amazing truth for themselves. The expedition, led by the capable Garry Lanier, includes Karen Farley, a British-born Chinese scientist with whom Lanier falls in love, and Patricia Vasquez, a brilliant young Hispanic American scientist who alone can understand the mathematical intricacies of the far future. For Earth people, the biggest secret of Thistledown is not the Way itself but the asteroids library, which contains pictures of a nuclear conflagration that had taken place in Thistledown’s past at a date in the near future of Earth. Russia has a spy within the expedition, and thus the secret gets out, bringing political tensions on Earth to the breaking point. Ironically, the pictures of the conflagration on the parallel world touch off, in the present world, the very events they depict. Much of Earth is destroyed, and all existing political systems are reduced to ruins.

Patricia’s parents and fiancé are among those vaporized to death, and she becomes at once both inconsolably depressed and determined to find some way, in the topsy-turvy world of parallel universes made possible by the advanced mathematics of the Way, to reverse time and fate, thus bringing her loved ones back. In conducting this research, she threatens the fundamental equilibrium of the Way, so Olmy abducts her and takes her to Axis City. Olmy, though, has special plans for Patricia. He realizes that her mentality is similar to that of Konrad Korzenowski, the man who centuries later in time had designed the Way. Korzenowski has been assassinated, but Olmy, using the advanced technology of the Hexamon, can revive him if Patricia agrees to share her mentality.

Meanwhile, the desperate Russians attack Thistledown itself, though the danger is defused when their old-guard Communist leaders are outwitted by Pavel Mirsky, a visionary subordinate. Hexamon authorities take all humans from Thistledown to Axis City. The Earth people are awed by the technological progress the Hexamon people have made in their thousand-year odyssey, but the Hexamon is in itself split. The Way is filled with pernicious, alien enemies called the Jarts, against whom the Hexamon is barely holding its own. Part of the Hexamon wishes to destroy the Way and go into orbit around Earth, while the other wishes to accelerate the speed of the Way and thereby crush the Jarts. Because the two plans are not incompatible, it is decided that Axis City will split into two parts. Meanwhile, Korzenowski is reincarnated using Patricias mentality. He decides to go with the Earthbound faction. Patricia gets her part of the bargain and is allowed to...

(The entire section is 1,903 words.)