Friday, November 17, 2017

The Time Machine (H.G. Wells)

First of all, this post will essentially be Spoiler Free, however comments by other users may possibly contain information that spoils portions of the plot, so read at them your own risk. Ready? Here we go!

H.G. Wells, known for being one of the defining writers of science fiction, is probably best known for his novels War of the Worlds and The Time Machine. Never having read any of his work, I figured it was time to give it a shot.

What it's about:

A Victorian gentlemen builds a time machine and travels to the year 802,701 AD to discover the future of the human race. Upon his travels he discovers not only the gentle Eloi that live in the daylight, but the Morlocks that live below. Yet the language and culture of both these races are so different from anything he could have expected. When his time machine goes missing, how will the Time Traveller find his way back home?

Why it's worth a read:
  • Although slow to start, the last several chapters really draw you in
  • It's a good storyline - well imagined, and formed with enough detail and intelligence that it feels relatively plausible for science fiction
  • It's interesting to look at the future of the world from an entirely different perspective - I am so used to the far distant future being "spaceships" and crazy technology that this was a truly refreshing viewpoint
  • Once you've finished reading it, take a break of a few weeks and read it again. It lends itself to a much better (and more haunting) second read as you pick up all of the details that meant little when you were focusing on other aspects of the story
Where it disappoints:
  • The first part of the book is almost painfully slow. It is a discussion on the plausibility of time travel and the dimensions of space and time
  • If you are looking for a book with lush descriptions and elegant writing, this isn't one of those books. It is much more scientific and analytical than many books you might be familiar with (it sure was that way for me!) - it is definitely more on the "science" side of science fiction in a lot of ways
  • I lost count of the amount of times I thought the main character was being an idiot
  • Although it's a short read (a bit over 100 pages) it doesn't feel like the quickest of reads until you get most of the way through
  • This is not one of those uplifting, happy tales - it is more cautionary and bleak than anything, and doesn't conclude in the strongest way
Final Thoughts:

If this is your first science fiction novel, I would highly recommend putting it down and coming back to it later. It's not a difficult read in either concept nor execution, but the prose is dry. If, however, you like things that are quite literal (such as if you like non-fiction), then I would bet this is right up your alley. Although Wells's writing style here was not my favourite, I didn't dislike the novel as a whole - it just wasn't what I was exactly expecting. Having a bit of familiarity with science fiction, I was able to get past a few things that I might have otherwise found difficult to get through (such as the slow, explanatory beginning), however it did also cause me to be a bit biased in expecting  a similar feel to other novels I had read. Oh boy was I wrong. If you really want to experience the full scope of what science fiction has to offer, this is a must-read, and not a long one at that. I'm interested to look into a few of his other novels now that I know what to expect, but I definitely wouldn't try reading this on a long plane ride.

Have you read any books by H.G. Wells? What science fiction authors/books have you enjoyed?


  1. I was redirected here by your latest post, the one where you share your first ten reviews. It's funny, because I've had TTM in my possession for years (I downloaded it from a site that sports a copyright-free book section), but I only got round to read it today! Or better...I tried, but stopped at 35%. The weird thing is, I didn't particularly mind the slow beginning and the time/space theories, but I ultimately found out I didn't care for the place where the protagonists ended up and the actual story, and since I was getting bored, I decided to call it quits. I also downloaded 4 more Wells books from the above site though, and I mean to try them next - I hope to be able to finish The War of the Worlds at least, since it caused that infamous incident when Orson Wells read it on the radio on 1938...

  2. Oops...
    "in 1938"
    ...I'm the typo queen LOL.

    1. Don't worry, I don't mind the typos - we're all guilty of them, and I can definitely still tell what you mean!
      If you don't care about the environment that the protagonist ends up in, then I completely understand stopping. It's such an important part of the book that, if it doesn't appeal to you, the rest of it is unlikely to as well.
      War of the Worlds is the other one I own, and I want to try it as well. I know the plot, so it won't be a stretch to know what it going on. I'm not sure if I'll try any of his others, but I definitely do want to do that one. If you do read any others, let me know what you think!