Monday, July 29, 2013

The Time Machine

I did not care for The Time Machine. I generally do not like stories about time travel. This was my first time reading the book, although I was familiar with the basic plot before reading it. The Time Machine was also my first H.G. Wells book.

There was too much description that was not necessary to the story. Having less than a hundred pages, the ratio of detail to plot was unbalanced. All the details, that were often repetitive, inhibited the flow of the tale. Another issue with the amount of detail he included was that they were not the details you wanted. The characters were left undeveloped.

I did appreciate the vocabulary Wells uses. Often when reading novels there is a lack of variation in the words, as if the authors are afraid the audience will not understand, and consequently not like their books. Wells does a great job using a variety of words. I like feeling the author assumes I'm smart enough to understand their book. I don't want it dumbed down for me. I am quite willing to use a dictionary if I don't know a word. Reading should increase your vocabulary.

I also liked reading some of the world views that crept into the story. Some of the assumptions the Time Traveler makes about the societies he visits, are quite revealing. He believes that whatever society he visits will be more advanced than his own. It surprised me that he didn't seem to think that as a stranger appearing in a different time, he would be viewed as a potential threat. He neglects to bring supplies or weapons because he assumes he will be able to obtain them. He concludes the Morlocks that live below ground must have been from the working class, and the Eloi from the surface are aristocratic. These are just some of the views that are in this book. Many of the points in the book are about evolution, industrialization, science, and class issues that would reflect some of the major concerns people had when this book was written.

Wells is very important to the Science-Fiction genre, so you should read this book at least once for that reason. I think I will try some of his other work, and see if I like those better. Any thoughts about which book of his I should read next?


  1. I actually have a number of Wells' titles on my reading list, & not just novels, either; in fact, the ones I'm most looking forward to are "World Brain", "Marxism vs. Liberalism" & "An Englishman Looks At The World".
    That said, the only one of his books physically in my "to read" stack at present is "The Invisible Man".

  2. I hadn't looked into his nonfiction books before. From just a brief glance at them it looked like a lot of essays, which could be really interesting. I wonder if they have more of a journalistic feel to them? I would like to know how is writing as a journalist compared to writing as a novelist.

  3. I think it's definitely worth trying. Strict attention to detail might be more appreciable in the format of a journalistic essay. Too often, though, the determining factor in prioritizing my reading list is not so much what I'm most interested in at a given time as what presents itself as most conveniently accessible, so it may be some time before I get around to trying his nonfiction myself.