A visionary work…book review of the #scifi classic The Time Machine

The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells

“In a moment my hand was on the lever, and I had placed a month between myself and these monsters.”

What a classic, wonderfully imaginative science fiction sentence.

I had read H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine many years ago. I remembered enjoying it, and thinking there were some creepy elements to the story. And since that was all I remembered, I decided I needed to revisit this. I’m on a mission to read or reread classic science fiction and horror writers, so I used that as an excuse to bump The Time Machine to the top of my Read List.

The story is engrossing, and despite the fact that it was published in 1895, the future vision of the Earth is, I believe, entirely within the bounds of science fiction relevance. In other words, nothing in the future Wells describes comes across as campy, super-versions of 19th Century technology (no super trains or odd flying contraptions). In fact, the only thing that stuck out to me in his far-future story is a rotting library. By itself that isn’t so strange, but in light of today’s digital readers, such a thing gives us book lovers a comfort that our beloved medium survived well into Well’s future.

I also enjoyed the braininess of the main character, called simply the Time Traveler. Although a bit old fashioned and class-heavy, it’s interesting to see our protagonist use his contemporary understanding of social-political struggle to try and understand the world he is exploring, and then to learn how far short his early analysis actually was. I liked the fact that the Time Traveler thought he had certain truths worked out early on, only to stand corrected the more he learned.

I don’t remember the book being so short. I wish that there was more to this story (the paperback is about 100 or so pages, and only 61 pages in my hardbound collection). Such intelligent story telling could easily have provided more for the reader. But I can’t fault the story itself. A wonderful read, and a must-read for any fan of the genre.

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