Book Review: ‘The Time Machine’ by H.G. Wells

Posted: 20 July 2011 in Book reviews
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It has been ages since I’ve written and I have no excuse except laziness. Oh well. Now I get to play catch-up. It’s like the story of my life trying to write in a journal. I always intend to and then it takes ages to do it. By that time I’ve forgotten some things and it takes ages just to write it all down. Oy. Anyway, I digress.

Ages ago I finished reading ‘The Time Machine’ by H.G. Wells. I wasn’t sure if I had read it or not, so just to be sure, I reread it. I had read it. Or at least I had started it like I had done with ‘The Odyssey.’ Either way, I have now finished reading it and let me say, for a sci-fi book written at the end of the 19th century, it is pretty epic.

For those who have seen the most recent movie adaption, there is very little in common. Rather than try and recreate the personas of the 19th century figures, they simple set it in the 19th century with personas people today could somehow relate to. Now I loved the film and even own the soundtrack (Klaus Badelt is amazing), but for a film based on the book, it at least wasn’t as ridiculous a a translation as ‘Beowulf.’

The book itself is more simply a man’s desire to prove the reality of time travel and the adventure he has in doing so. Despite the mocking and disbelief of his friends and colleagues, he pursues his goal and like any good scientist, tests it out himself. After travelling innumerable years into the future, he finally crash lands into a world nothing like the one he came from. There he encounters a group of small individuals he learns are called Eloi. The are a carefree group of people with the mentality of children. They play all day toiling at nothing and are strangely afraid of the night. Unaware to him until later is the presence of a more sinister race of creatures called Morlocks. He gets random glimpses of them but is never quite sure of what or who they are. The longer he stays there, the more of the strange Eloi language he is able to learn and is able to find out about their terrifying presence.

He also quickly develops a close friendship with a Eloi female after he saves her from drowning. She is his almost constant companion which will ultimately prove her downfall. After observing a rather large building somewhere off in the distance, the time traveller and his female companion venture off to locate it. When they arrive, he discovers that it is in fact an ancient museum with artefacts that span thousands of years. Inside the museum, he locates a shaft that grants him access to the lairs of the Morlocks. It is there that he discovers the reality of the relationship between the Eloi and the Morlocks.

Naturally I will leave the ending untold to give you some enticement to read the book. I can tell you this now, it is not as happy as the movie. Nor as complex. He simply discovers that the inhabitants of the world have resorted back to their basic animalistic instincts.

For being one of the final books to emerge from the 19th century, it is one of the few that focus on the possibilities of advances in modern science and the unknown future. Will/Can time travel ever be possible? Will the future be as fantastical and electronic as people imagine? or will the human race evolve into two vastly different species with no recognisable language or humanistic habits? We will never know, at least for now.

I really enjoyed the book. It is not too long and it is written in such a way that you feel like you are sitting there being told the story. While the story itself is complex in its simplicity, it is not too thick or wordy making it easy to follow along. The parts with the Morlocks are creepy enough and the general disregard and carelessness of the Eloi are described wonderfully. It is very much a worthwhile read.

Like most inaccurate film adaptions, the film can never quite live up to the original novel. The good thing is that despite the obvious similarities in the story, the two can sit apart from each other because of the broadness of the sci-fi element dealing with time travelling. That being said, if you’ve only seen the movie, I suggest grabbing the book and taking a couple days to treat yourself to the original. You will not be disappointed 😉


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