Book Review: The Time Machine by HG Wells
Preview… I have recently been accused by my book group of not being open to science fiction or fantasy novels. Okay, so I was completely uninspired by William Gibson’s “Neuromancer” and have yet to read through any JRR Tolkien, but does that mean I am opposed to this genre as a whole? No, absolutely not. In fact, my recent reading of HG Wells’s “The Time Machine” has inspired me to purchase this author’s box set (and, you must understand, I rarely purchase books brand new).
What is it that makes “The Time Machine” so memorable? There are many things. The novel opens with the time traveler, who will remain nameless throughout the course of the novel, describing to a group of men the existence of the fourth dimension and how it allows for time travel. Later the time traveler delves into the future with his machine, landing in the year 802,701 AD. It seems that man has taken a dual path to evolution, becoming both the graceful yet simple-minded Eloi and the cunning, creepy Morlocks.
The Morlocks are hunched-over, pale ape-like creatures with glowing cat-like eyes that live in elaborate underground cities. They quickly steal the time machine and drag it into their realm. Though the time traveler clearly understands the Eloi’s fear of this other race, he has no choice but to pursue his machine underground. The world of the Morlocks is completely devoid of light, so the time traveler’s other senses take over — the sound of their slithering about, the feel of them prodding and pulling him, the smells of rank meat. The time traveler’s venture underground is, without a doubt, one of the most vividly horrific moments in classic literature.
While attempting to recover his machine and growing acquainted with the ways of the Eloi, the time traveler ponders how humanity may have ended up at this point. We never know if his explanations are accurate, but his conjectures are certainly interesting and completely plausible. After more than a week in the future and a battle with the Morlocks in the midst of a blazing forest, the traveler is able to recover his machine. He rejoins the current day and tells the same group of men about his adventures. The next day, the traveler sets off once more for the future, though this time he never returns. We can only guess what further adventures ensued.
You may like this book if…you like science fiction and fantasy, you enjoy a story that is very different but still makes logical sense, you enjoy vivid sensory depiction, you are interested in scientific inquiries like evolution and the fourth-dimension, you like Lord of the Rings — I think the Morlocks influenced Gollum’s character greatly, you like open endings with no clear resolution, you like a quick and provoking read
You may not like this book if… you frighten easily, you refuse to accept that the world will still exist more than 800,000 years from now, you don’t believe the Morlocks or the Eloi could ever be our descendents, you don’t do well with a nontraditional story line, you want to read a story that is based more on the characters and less on the setting.