The inspiration for the book The End of Eternity is interesting. At that time, Asimov was teaching at Boston University, and by chance he found a magazine in the library, and when he looked through it, he noticed that an advertisement from the 1920s actually printed an image of a mushroom cloud from a nuclear explosion. But the first atomic bomb in human history was exploded in 1945, so how could a mushroom cloud appear in the 1920s? Then he looked closer, and he realized that it was actually an image of the Yellowstone Geyser. He wondered what kind of story would be behind this mis-dated mushroom cloud image if it was a message that it was left by a mysterious time traveler. It was this idea that led to the creation of The End of Eternity.

The main character of The End of Eternity, Harlan, is a time technician born in the 95th century. Like other Eternals, he was chosen to join the Eternal Time at the age of 15. The so-called Physio-time, which was built in the 27th century, is an existence relative to ordinary time and space; the inhabitants of Eternal Time, including observers, calculators, sociologists, time technicians, etc., are able to travel freely through the different eras from the 27th century onwards by means of time travel technology. But on the other hand, Asimov also portrays his grand view of space and time in this book. The average inhabitants of space and time in the book are not aware of the ongoing move of the Eternal Time to correct reality; they believe that there is only one reality in the world and that history is linear along a single path. The Eternal Ones of Eternal Time would laugh at the ignorance of the Primitive times, because they know that there are in fact countless realities. However, in the view of higher-level species, the Eternals are equally ignorant. But the fact is that the number of realities is infinite, and so are the sub-branching paths of each reality. This bifurcated evolution of time will continue. And here it coincides with Jorge Borges‘ conception in The Garden of Forking Paths.

The following quote by Albert perfectly presents the main concept of this piece.

“The explanation is obvious. The Garden of Forking Paths is a picture, incomplete yet not false, of the universe such as Ts’ui Pen conceived it to be. Differing from Newton and Schopenhauer, your ancestor did not think of time as absolute and uniform. He believed in an infinite series of times, in a dizzily growing, ever spreading network of diverging, converging and parallel times. This web of time — the strands of which approach one another, bifurcate, intersect or ignore each other through the centuries-embraces every possibility. We do not exist in most of them. In some you exist and not I, while in others I do, and you do not, and in yet others both of us exist. In this one, in which chance has favored me, you have come to my gate. In another, you, crossing the garden, have found me dead. In yet another, I say these very same words, but am an error, a phantom.”

In both of their novels, time is also non-linear, but this non-linearity is reflected in a network of possibilities that is formed by the constant bifurcation triggered by individual choices. In this network, individual choices are infinite, and thus the bifurcations are also infinite, and the resulting possibilities and parallel worlds are in fact infinite. Most people consider the space-time model of The Garden of Forking Paths as a typical parallel universe model in science fiction worlds, where different choices in the present extend countless parallel universes. However, a big problem with this model of parallel universes is that it quantifies parallel universes, and in this story, Borges enriches this view of time and space. The non-existence of time as a prior form itself, things symbolize and realize their own identities in the context of time, while time as a whole does not have its identity, time cannot be equated with time itself, time is no longer a container for existence here.