Published: 1895 Genres: Science Fiction, Steampunk
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After reading “Before the Storm” by Marian Perera, I decided that I need more steampunk in my life. After consulting a bunch of random lists on the internet, I came to the conclusion that I ought to read something by H. G. Wells before delving into modern steampunk, as his ideas provide an inspiration to many steampunk writers.
Before starting the book, I didn’t know much about it. Yeah, I saw the “Wishbone” episode as a kid, but I don’t think that counts, as I’m pretty sure that I remember Weena being a love interest in that version.
I probably would have read “The Time Machine” a lot sooner if I’d have realized that it was so short. Clocking in at only about 100 pages, it’s a rather quick read, as Elizabeth mentioned in her review. Sometimes I think that a book’s status as a classic makes it more intimidating than it ought to be…
The narrator of the “The Time Machine” has an eccentric friend who attempts to convince his social circle that he has the ability to travel through time. At first he sends a simple device, then finally tries out his own time machine. The Time Traveler journeys to the distant future and finds, rather than a more intellectual and technological society, a childlike race known as the Eloi. The Eloi don’t read or write, and lead a blissful animal-like existence during daylight. The Time Traveler tries to theorize why the Eloi exist, using his own social theories to try to comprehend the future. What the Time Traveler doesn’t immediately realize is that the Eloi are terrorized at night by the Morlocks, a subterranean humanoid race that treat the Eloi as a food source. When the Morlocks steal his time machine, the Time Traveler is forced to confront them in order to return to the past.
“The Time Machine” uses a science fiction story about time travel to illustrate a broader point about social class. The Eloi and the Morlocks were both descendents of mankind, as the gulf between the workers and the wealthy became so great that they followed their own evolutionary directions. As we’re in the middle of a major recession marked by growing income inequality, it’s a timely message. It’s funny how little has changed since 1895!
This book counts for several of the challenges that I’m participating in. I’m including it in the The 2012 Science Fiction Experience hosted by Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings and the Speculative Fiction Challenge 2012 hosted by Baffled Books. It also counts toward the Vintage SciFi Not-a-Challenge hosted by The Little Red Reviewer.