Tuesday, August 23, 2011
The Time Machine
Author: H. G. Wells
I've never read this book before now. And I'm a little disappointed in myself for that fact. After all, I find the subject of time travel to be a fascinating idea. This is obvious because so many of my favorite movies and TV shows deal with time travel: Back to the Future, Quantum Leap, Lost... I could keep going, but I won't.
I'm not completely unfamiliar with H. G. Wells' time travel tale. I've seen two film versions based on this novel. There's the '60s version that warned of the dangers of nuclear war and the one from a few years ago that warned of the dangers of screwing with the environment. Filmmakers just wanted to have something to point to showing that their version was relevant to the time in which it was made. Either way, they eventually get to the same place that Wells' original time traveler got to: AD 802,701.
If you don't know the story, it's fairly simple. The Time Traveler (who remains nameless throughout the novel) invents a machine that can travel through time. If you didn't pick that much up from the title then you really need to rethink your deductive abilities. In testing his invention, the Time Traveler ends up traveling to the year 802,701. Why H. G. Wells picked that year, I have no clue. But it's pretty far out there. And by that point, humanity as we know it has ceased to exist. Instead, mankind has split off into two new species: the Eloi and the Morlocks.
The Eloi are beautiful, naive creatures that live in a beautiful paradise. The Morlocks are an ugly, brutal breed that live under the ground. The two races don't seem to cross the lines of diversity too much. Though the Eloi are terrified of the dark, because they know that's when the Morlocks can come out to play. The Time Traveler comes to believe that the Morlocks occasionally come up and abduct some of the Eloi, using them as food. Yeah, pretty appetizing thought, right?
While the Time Traveler spends the bulk of his traveling time with the Eloi and the Morlocks, not all of his time traveling adventure is devoted to his social study of humanity's descendants. He travels even farther into the future, witnessing the death of the earth. He returns to his own time to share his story with some of his friends, but eventually leaves in his time machine, never to be seen or heard from again.
I'm never sure how I'll react to books that have been written so long ago. For me, it's like watching old movies. Sometimes I think they're great. Other times I wonder why something like Citizen Kane is even relevant. I tried reading Great Expectations not too long ago and just couldn't get into it. This one was pretty good though. Sure, there's a lot of philosophical jargon as told by the Time Traveler. And I'm not sure, but I think Wells might have been a Socialist. Whatever the case, the story was a pretty easy read. I can't really call it a page turner 'cause I read it on the Kindle. Have I mentioned how much I love the free books you can get for the e-reader? Kind of awesome.