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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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10,238207281 (3.7)597
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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    The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov (codeeater)
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    The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle (chrisharpe)
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    Galileo's Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson (AlanPoulter)
    AlanPoulter: Each novel speculates on the far future by means of a time-travelling scientist.
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    The Dechronization of Sam Magruder: A Novel by George Gaylord Simpson (bertilak)
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    Morlock Night by K. W. Jeter (Michael.Rimmer)
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    Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (JGolomb)
  9. 21
    Rocannon's world by Ursula K. Le Guin (quigui)
    quigui: I found the aliens on Rocannon's world reminiscent of the future species in the Time Machine. And although there is not actual time travel involved in Rocannon's World, there is a time lapse difference due to space travel at near light speed.
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    Rivers of Time by L. Sprague De Camp (dukeallen)
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    Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift (ladybug74)
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    The Diamond Lens by Fitz-James O'Brien (Anonymous user)
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1890s (6)

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English (199)  Spanish (3)  French (1)  Hebrew (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (205)
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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. ( )
4 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 |
I surprisingly enjoyed this book VERY much! It's tiny, for one thing--I read it in a single car drive to Orlando. Usually I wouldn't be able to afford so much praise to a tiny book. Novella, really. But this book is a glorious exception.

In it, a time traveler talks lucidly and plainly of his experiences traveling into the future. He sees two races of human-like species, descendants from modern day humans. However, they are "lower" than us and less intelligent life-forms.

Wells conjectures on what made them this way over the hundreds of thousands of years, and comes to the conclusion that our technology created a society that made it very easy for humans to survive. Intelligence no longer became a factor in reproduction, as is necessary to ensure intelligent offspring. Therefore you get this end result!

Wells wrote beautifully of social theorizing and what he suspects may happen in both the near and distant future. It's a great book for its time (written in 1895), with people just beginning to wonder about the ultimate effects of technology and increasing industry.

I also enjoyed, by the way, Wells' numerous comments about the continuing heart and sentiment and love of humans, and our capacity for gratitude, which he portrayed so very nicely in the endearing Weena. ( )
  Proustitutes | Jun 11, 2015 |
You're all Morlocks. ( )
  trilliams | May 30, 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
Hinkleman, Cindy JoProduction coordinatorsecondary 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
Raffin, DeborahExecutive producer & directorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, JimNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Silverman, KarenProduction managersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Viner, MichaelExecutive producersecondary 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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Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141439971, 0141028955, 0143566431, 0141199342

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An edition of this book was published by McFarland.

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2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

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