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The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

The Time Machine (1895)

by H. G. Wells

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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A Victorian gentleman-scientist known only as the "Time Traveler" builds a machine that can transport him far into the future or back into the past. The machine takes the Time Traveler all the way to 802,701 A.D., where he finds that humanity has split into two separate species: the attractive but intellectually-limited Eloi, who dwell above ground in empty-minded happiness, and the brutish Morlocks, who live underground and fear light. The symbolism isn't very subtle; when the Time Traveler returns to the present day he tells his friends that he believes the dim Eloi are the descendants of the British upper crust, while the uncouth Morlocks' ancestry goes back to the country's working classes. He conjectures that the relative ease of Eloi lives caused the species' moral, physical and intellectual deterioration over the centuries. The Morlocks are still subservient to the Eloi in some respects, but after thousands of years, the underground creatures have found a shocking way to take advantage of the surface-dwellers' fragility.

In Wells' pessimistic vision, the forces of natural selection have led not to the improvement of humanity, as is commonly supposed, but to its decline. Despite the novella's age and familiarity (there are several adaptations and movie versions), I was surprised at how engrossing this work still is. I highly recommend it. ( )
  akblanchard | Oct 31, 2015 |
Beginning this book was sort of slow, it didn't do much to hook me in at first. But the mysteriousness of the unnamed characters and the first sly references to the time machine piqued my interest enough to keep going. I'm so glad I did, because this was such a great read.

Even though this might sound cliche, the book made me ponder the future of humanity as the Time Traveler did... the way that society is shaped through slow changes over time. Even though human culture obviously evolves, it still seems to be a popular thought that our way of life will remain constant and our species will always exist. This book definitely tests that belief with a very refreshing way to consider impermanence. ( )
  kirako | Oct 20, 2015 |
Second time reading it, and I think I enjoyed it even more this time around. I'm a big Wells fan and thoroughly enjoyed this story. It's short, but there's a great adventure within its pages with some commentary on man, as well. I wouldn't be opposed to reading it some time in the future, again. ( )
  Robert.Zimmermann | Oct 15, 2015 |
Said to be the first time travel novel ever, a Sci-Fi classic with Mr. Hubert George Wells at his finest.
A hugely enjoyable book that flows off the page, and my favorite ever book. ( )
  SJPluvsMS | Aug 13, 2015 |
The Time Machine proved to be a lovely, albeit short, read, even for someone who isn't that much of a science fiction enthusiast, but that's probably because I haven't read much of the genre. First published first in 1895, this powerful little book shattered literary ground with a single man, the anonymous Time Traveller, and his "squat, ugly, and askew" machine of "brass, ebony, ivory and translucent glimmering quartz" (110). The tale is told from the perspective of one of the man's acquaintances, who is invited to dinner to hear of his adventure upon his return. Naturally, the Time Traveller's account dominates most of the book, though I found that these two contrasting perspectives complemented each other nicely.

The adventure of the Time Traveller consists more of him running around to recover his stolen time machine than anything else. The descriptions of the "post-human humans" he meets are, for this reason, limited, and so is the depth to which the landscape is explored. This read reminded me of two other works, both classics in their own right--Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies. The former vaguely resembles this work in prose and descriptive style, while the latter, in its representation of the Eloi race. The Time Traveller describes the Eloi people, who we are the ancestors of, as innocent, pure, and child-like race, having degenerated into ignorance as a result of privilege and laziness. As the traveller reflects, "there is no intelligence where there is no change and no need of change" and they serve as a wonderful representation of this (97). A dangerously similar description is found in Bartolomé de las Casas' anthropological account of the natives, which is recounted from the perspective of a European missionary. (The difference, however, is that de las Casas enthusiastically viewed them as perfect receptors of the Christian religion, while here such qualities ignite the total opposite reaction).

Furthermore, as this is the first of Wells' works that I read, I'm not sure if this is his natural prose — it was elegant but a little too verbose for my taste. Nevertheless, it was acceptable because it suits the character of the Time Traveller rather perfectly. All in all, you do not have to be a sci-fi fan to appreciate this book, though I'm sure it would help.

If you want to read more of my reviews, check out my book blog! ( )
1 vote themythbookshelf | Aug 8, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (143 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wells, H. G.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aldiss, Brian W.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Arvan, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bear Canyon CreativeCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cosham, RalphNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Crofts, ThomasEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
De Michele, RossanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, GwynethIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kennedy, Paul E.Cover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, AlanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mayes, BernardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McLean, StevenNotessecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mugnaini, JosephIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oliva , RenatoContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Priestley, J. B.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, JimNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zimmerman, WalterNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Is contained in

The Time Machine / The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells

The Time Machine / The War of the Worlds / The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells

The War of the Worlds / The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

The Time Machine; The Island of Dr. Moreau; The Invisible Man; The First Men in the Moon; The Food of the Gods; In the Days of the Comet; The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

The treasury of science fiction classics by Harold W. Kuebler

The Time Machine / The Man Who Could Work Miracles by H. G. Wells

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The Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) was expounding a recondite matter to us.
It is a law of nature we overlook, that intellectual versatility is the compensation for change, danger, and trouble.
Strength is the outcome of need; security sets a premium on feebleness.
Nature never appeals to intelligence until habit and instinct are useless. There is no intelligence where there is no change and no need of change. Only those animals partake of intelligence that have to meet a huge variety of needs and dangers.
I grieved to think how brief the dream of the human intellect had been. It had committed suicide. It had set itself steadfastly towards comfort and ease, a balanced society with security and permanency as its watchword, it had attained its hopes—to come to this at last. Once, life and property must have reached almost absolute safety. The rich had been assured of his wealth and comfort, the toiler assured of his life and work. No doubt in that perfect world there had been no unemployed problem, no social question left unsolved. And a great quiet had followed.
He, I know—for the question had been discussed among us long before the Time Machine was made—thought but cheerlessly of the Advancement of Mankind, and saw in the growing pile of civilisation only a foolish heaping that must inevitably fall back upon and destroy its makers in the end. If that is so, it remains for us to live as though it were not so.
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When a Victorian scientist propels himself into the year a.d. 802,701, he is initially delighted to find that suffering has been replaced by beauty, contentment, and peace. Entranced at first by the Eloi, an elfin species descended from man, he soon realizes that these beautiful people are simply remnants of a once-great culture—now weak and childishly afraid of the dark. They have every reason to be afraid: in deep tunnels beneath their paradise lurks another race descended from humanity—the sinister Morlocks. And when the scientist’s time machine vanishes, it becomes clear he must search these tunnels if he is ever to return to his own era.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451528557, Mass Market Paperback)

“I’ve had a most amazing time....”


So begins the Time Traveller’s astonishing firsthand account of his journey 800,000 years beyond his own era—and the story that launched H.G. Wells’s successful career and earned him the reputation as the father of science fiction. With a speculative leap that still fires the imagination, Wells sends his brave explorer to face a future burdened with our greatest hopes...and our darkest fears. A pull of the Time Machine’s lever propels him to the age of a slowly dying Earth.  There he discovers two bizarre races—the ethereal Eloi and the subterranean Morlocks—who not only symbolize the duality of human nature, but offer a terrifying portrait of the men of tomorrow as well.  Published in 1895, this masterpiece of invention captivated readers on the threshold of a new century. Thanks to Wells’s expert storytelling and provocative insight, The Time Machine will continue to enthrall readers for generations to come.


(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:17 -0400)

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The first and greatest portrayal of time travel is printed with a newly established text, a full biographical essay on Wells, a list of further reading, and detailed notes.

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22 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141439971, 0141028955, 0143566431, 0141199342

Coffeetown Press

An edition of this book was published by Coffeetown Press.

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An edition of this book was published by McFarland.

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Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400100771, 1400109094

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