Response to “The Time Machine”

The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells, is a remarkable science-fiction book for it’s age. It is a perfect “Introduction to Time Travel” for anyone who has never been inside sci-fi. It starts at the “Time Traveler’s” House, where several people including doctors and psychologists are gathered for a presentation. It is narrated by one of these such visitors. The entire story occurs here in the Time Traveler’s living room and lab, where he shows off his time machine to his friends at a dinner party. The next week, a similar group of people gather at the house again, and the Time Traveler is late for his own dinner party. He walks in, completely exhausted from his adventures of the last hour. He sits down, and tells a long story of traveling into the far-off future, where he lost his time machine and spent eight days searching for it.The story within the story has lengthy descriptions of how it felt to travel through time, and how the future was. He explored this brand new world, full of happy and simple-minded people, that also had a curious secret underground. He ran around chasing Morlocks, making friends with Weena, and eventually found his time machine again. The futuristic society was, at the beginning, a perfect world. Then he began to notice fear of the dark, and other odd reactions to things. He then found out that the people on the surface were really just herds of cattle, fatted, grown, and hunted by the Morlocks that lived in tunnels underneath the surface that came out at night to prey on the other half of the civilization. Not only was this a statement about the separation of working class and royalty, which was evident in the way humanity had evolved into such a state, but it also served to inspire new ideas about Wells’s current society. Since the book was written in 1895, society was starting to feel the effects of the Industrial Revolution, with separation of working and non-working class becoming more prominent. Wells definitely used these concepts heavily in his book.

In the late 1800’s, we were also starting to see a rise of more and more inventions and technologies which must have inspired the writing of this book. The Time Machine is considered one of the first steam-punk novels, which explored a specific style of technology, with steam-power and machines, and using ornate materials on such devices, like ivory and brass. Wells goes into detail on these aspects of his device, and it has defined a whole subsection of science-fiction, under which modern stories like Doctor Who fall under.

H.G. Wells, alongside Jules Verne, are the fathers of science fiction. Before them, time travel and space exploration, finding other worlds and societies, hadn’t been written with such scientific leanings. Of course, fiction had been around since fairy tales and newspapers, but this type of storytelling was a very new field, spawned in the Industrial Revolution.

In the field of sci-fi, this novel is very definitive and covers so many of the basics we all take for granted! It explains time travel carefully, how it’s possible and how it all, theoretically, would work. It is cleverly written, and groundbreaking. I loved it, and would recommend it to anyone who gets excited about sci-fi!

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