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The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

The Time Machine (original 1895; edition 2012)

by H. G. Wells

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10,344205278 (3.71)604
Title:The Time Machine
Authors:H. G. Wells
Info:Tribeca Books (2012), Paperback, 104 pages
Collections:Your library, Kindle
Tags:fiction, 1001 books, science fiction, classics, time travel, 19th century, 1895, 1890s

Work details

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells (1895)

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1890s (4)

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English (197)  Spanish (4)  French (1)  Hebrew (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (204)
Showing 1-5 of 197 (next | show all)
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 |
It's funny, I remembered the central metaphor here all wrong--the Morlocks as gentle giants on the surface, the Eloi as exquisite vampires who prey on them. I guess I knew it didn't make any sense ("morlocks live underground" being surely part of our general cultural competency), but I didn't stop to think about it much and simply remembered this as one of the books my dad bribed me to read when I was a kid, the future world as magical and dark, and the further future as deeply chilling. It's interesting that it was that final future fantasy that stuck with me the most: the Morlocks and Eloi as a generic, if vivid, SF binary-opp society (and me getting all the details wrong), but the red dead sun, the slow-moving crabs, the slow fading of the last vestiges of the first heat of Creation and that polyp-like creature flopping and dying in the endless snow. Yikes! It makes you think, how long has it been since we had an end-of-the-world scenario that assumed our natural decline? Whether it's nuclear war or aliens or climate change or the matrix, present-day eschatology is all apocalypse, all the time. It's frivolous, histrionic, masturbatory. We are perfectionists who go to pieces at the slightest thing.

Contrast our Victorian Time Traveller and the "manly vigour of the race" (absolute Wellsian language here): these are people who finally have a basic scientific framework in place for understanding what life is, and they are eager to extend it even unto speculation about the building blocks of reality and what machines might be able to interfere with them, unto fables of devolution (from the precambrian we came, to the precambrian we shall return) and the interweaving of the biological and social (there are literally a billion ways to read the Es/Ms as mythologized capitalists and proles, and even Wells couldn't decide on just one, with the Time Traveller's shifting sense of where the (degenerate) mastery lies and where the (degenerate) abjection--in the end, mastery is abjection, and ownership of the means of production hasn't done the Morlocks any favours: I know I'd rather be a happy sexy Eloi even if my friends won't save me from drowning and the neighbours downstairs are getting ready to gut and fillet me.

It's shocking how it hits you right in your sense of what's real, in distinction, per above, from our currently favoured escapist end games tailormade for a romantic lead to shake his fist at God. Killing the deity and replacing him with evolution doesn't make us masters (in fact, having a skyfather makes us his favoured children); it displaces us once more from the centre, turns us into a mere chemical notion or momentary dissonance in the physical fabric. It is so much more tragic than the self-aggrandizing "end with violence" or "end with transcendence," since it happens so slowly there's no place for heroism at all. That reflects back on the nineteenth-century man of action at the centre too, of course, making of the Time Traveller, with his eugenic sensibilities and positivist social views and quickness to command the good small people and drub the bad, a kind of virile brain-brute, a veritable--to borrow the name of our local newspaper in "Victorian" Victoria, BC, if you can believe this--"Times-Colonist,"which when I was a kid I totally totally took to mean the "Colonist of Time," the paper that sails on through the times, broadsheets trim and newsprint-gray, collecting the events of the day and placing on them its imprimatur. "We were there. We told you how it was." On this day in history, the headlines said, TIME TRAVELLER PLANTS FLAG OF SCIENCE IN THE YEAR OF OUR WORLDVIEW 802,701.

It's actually just that the one paper the Times bought the other (the Colonist, still a fucked-up name). But in that light, how ripe is this book for any number of "Grendel"-style dip-and-flip inversions that expose the colonizer's total failure to get any of it right? Not only the gentle Morlocks as outlined above, but how about the smart Eloi, whose society actually sounds largely amazing, trying to drum up the interest to dim their sensibilities and teach this week's angry weirdo from the past how to speak their language and that they give of themselves to the Morlocks at the end of their lives because sustenance is a sacrament? Or the proto-(post-post-post-)fascist Morlocks that come back and invade Edwardian London and rule there? Some of these already exist, as many later writers have tried to fill out or address the Time Traveller's evident bewilderment. And it's a neat trick--Wells can't see his own biases, so he catapults his protgonist past the coming socialist utopia that the author himself certainly believed in and into a world so different that any attempt to navigate it is bound to end up as frustrated as the linen-suited orientalist trying to get a rickshaw. No wonder he was the blockbuster writer of his time! He's really good at being all things to all people. ( )
5 vote MeditationesMartini | Jun 30, 2015 |
I thought I knew what to expect from this book since there are so many references to it in popular culture. I was expecting an adventure story along the lines of Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days, using a time machine instead of steam ships. I was wrong. This is a dystopian novel with a pessimistic view of humanity's future. The format didn't work well for me. It's essentially a story within a story. The first person narrator recounts the story told by the Time Traveler after his return, with the Time Traveler's story also presented in first person. I like Sir Derek Jacobi, but his voice wasn't right for this book. It needed a reader with a younger voice. I love time travel stories that visit the past. After this experience with time travel into the future, I may stick with the past from now on. ( )
  cbl_tn | Jun 20, 2015 |
What took me so long to read this classic? Well worth the wait. I found it ambitious and interesting, eloquent and fascinating, but overwroughtly pessimistic. Was this truly Wells' view of the future? He predicted many other now-commonplace things with accuracy, so this was certainly his view. In other hands, it may have been more optimistic, but perhaps the quality would be lacking in the story itself. My appetite is now whetted for more Wells and more classics. ( )
  MartinBodek | Jun 11, 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

Has the (non-series) sequel

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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

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2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400100771, 1400109094

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