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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

The Time Machine

Author: H.G. Wells
Originally Published: 1895
Courtney’s Edition: 2002
Publisher: New American Library, a division of Penguin

The Time MachineThe Time Traveller is a scientist in London who has developed a time machine. This story is told as a narrative he is regaling his group of friends with after his first journey through time.

In that journey to the future, he comes across what he at first believes to be a utopia, but he soon realizes it is a horrific future for our world. There he encounters the two races that will inhabit the world – the Eloi and the Morlocks. The Eloi are supposed to be the elite class of their world; they do no work (as a result are weak and small) and spend all their time having fun. The Morlocks are more like the working class. They live underground and keep the technology that keeps the Eloi safe working; because of their underground life, they have adjusted by becoming spider-like and can see in the dark (and thus are super-sensitive to light).

There are, of course, a few twists thrown in there which make the story somewhat horrifying.

Back in high school, I read a lot of sci-fi. I haven’t lately, and I’ve really been missing it. Yes, I’ve been watching a lot of it, but that is definitely not the same. I think what it had come down to is that I wasn’t really enjoying any of the more recent sci-fi books published. This, however, and The Invisible Man (the other most recent sci-fi book I’ve read, also coincidentally by Wells) were definitely wonderful. I think perhaps I’m going to have to start again with reading more of the classic ones. More Wells, then perhaps I’ll start back on Asimov and revisit C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy.

I’ve always found stories of time travel have really exciting – which perhaps is part of the draw for Doctor Who. While there’s always the possibility that a story about time travel won’t come off believable at all, when it’s done well it’s absolutely fascinating. The possibilities of what could happen – oh! Who you could meet, what you could see! Or what your actions could cause! If you go to the past and alter anything, that could alter your present. Or maybe your present already takes into account that thing you had altered when you travel to the past… Fascinating! (Speaking of fascinating time travel, I really like how Terminator TSSC dealt with it in the season finale on Friday.)

Wells seemed to have played it safe with The Time Machine as his Time Traveller only travels to the future in this book. It’s probably easier this way as Wells doesn’t have to touch on how our actions can have an effect on our present. It also gave him the opportunity to go into how he thought things could evolve – and it was a scary possibility. It’s hard to relate to either of the races as they don’t feel human, but not in the way I would have expected. If we talk about evolution, I would expect things to progress further than they have, creating some sort of super-being, whereas the beings that the Time Traveller encounters seem so much more primitive.

Bottom Line: Definitely enjoyable and thought provoking. I can see why this is a classic. This is a really short book, and I highly recommend that everyone take a few hours to sit down with it.

(Side note: I may totally have been inspired to read this because the Seventh Doctor is reading it at the beginning of the Eighth Doctor’s movie. butimsonotobsessed.)

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 8:31 pm April 13, 2009.
Category: Speculative Fiction
Book Author(s):
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  • Kristina

    I read this in high school and I loved it! Great review! Come visit me….I have something =)

  • Vega

    I read The Time Machine a couple years back, it’s definitely a landmark SF work. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau is also quite frightening (and very prophetic).

    I hope you get to read more SF in time! *is a huge SF fan herself* If you like Asimov and Clarke, why not check out other somewhat lesser-known “Golden Age” authors — Poul Anderson, Frederik Pohl, Alfred Bester, Jack Vance, Robert Heinlein, Clifford Simak, Stanislaw Lem… =)

  • Court

    Kirstina – Thanks!

    Vega – I’ll DEFINITELY put The Island of Doctor Moreau on my list…. as well as looking into those other authors you’ve suggested – thanks for the recommendations!

  • Carl V.

    I have an inkling that at some point in my youth I may have read this, but I certainly don’t know if that is true nor do I recall it with any clarity…so I might as well put it on the tbr list as either way it will feel like reading it for the first time.