#797: The Time Machine – H. G. Wells

The Time Machine is the first book I downloaded on iBooks, and the second I finished on it (I finished Mile 81 first). Somehow, I’m not really sure how, it’s become completely natural to swipe to turn a page. Something I like more about iBooks than about the Kindle is that it actually gives you page numbers instead of a percentage, which is nice. Of course, the iBooks page numbers have absolutely nothing to do with the print page numbers…but it still makes me feel better about it. And it helps that you can change the font, font size, and line spacing…but somehow I’ve digressed before I’ve even begun writing a post. Sigh.

The Time Machine, published in 1895, is the story of an otherwise-unnamed Time Traveller who invents (of course) a time machine and travels to the year 802,701. There, he meets a race of childlike adults called the Eloi, who live in communal societies, subsist mainly on fruit, and live together in beautiful but slowly crumbling buildings. Efforts to communicate with these people are largely unsuccessful, mostly due to the fact of their diminished intelligence (which the Time Traveller attributes to man’s conquest of nature with technology). They are a peaceful people, however, and they welcome the Time Traveller with affection.

Soon upon the Time Traveller’s arrival, his time machine goes mysteriously missing, and he discovers that the Eloi are not the only race that humanity has evolved into. It appears that sometime on the road of evolution, humanity gradually split into two races: a diurnal, surface living race (the Eloi), and a nocturnal race, called the Morlocks. These ape-like creatures live in eternal darkness underground, and appear to have stolen his time machine.

Now it’s up to the Time Traveller (and his Eloi friend, Weena) to get his time machine back if he ever hopes to get back to London and his own time again. Though he has no weapons and a companion who lives in mortal fear of darkness and the Morlocks, he makes it back—but who will believe his story?

I think you’re all pretty aware of how much I love old-timey science fiction. The Invisible Man, Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (which I’ve read several times but have somehow not reviewed for this blog yet)—I just love the style. It’s technically narrated by a friend of the Time Traveller who listens to his story (a common mode of narration in this time, it seems, or perhaps just a favorite of H. G. Wells), but the majority of it is narrated in first person by the Time Traveller himself. It’s beautifully written, with fantastic descriptions that can make you really see the places he’s describing—and the feeling of the Morlocks’ claws plucking at your clothes…

Something else I really enjoyed was actually learning about the Morlocks, which I had heretofore only heard about in It (Ben always called the sewer pipes in the Barrens “Morlock holes”) and in the TV show The Big Bang Theory, specifically the episode where Leonard actually buys the Time Machine prop used in the 1960 film adaptation, thinking it’s just a miniature model. Of course, hilarity ensues:

Penny: “It looks like something that Elton John would ride through the Everglades.”

At any rate, this book was fantastic. I would have liked to read it in hard copy form (and might still go out and get a copy at some point) but it was easy and convenient to read it on my phone. (And really, anything that allows me to get books for free is a good thing.) If you liked any of the books I mentioned above, you should give this one a try; you won’t be disappointed.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

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4 thoughts on “#797: The Time Machine – H. G. Wells

  1. This is on my list to read. I’m glad you liked it. I’ve read on a few blogs lately that everyone loves this book. I need to track down a copy.

    • It’s really great. I’m personally just a fan of old-timey horror, but I really like Wells’ style. I hope you like it once you get around to reading it! 🙂

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