The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

A nameless narrator talks us through the Time Traveller’s account of his adventures in the year 802,701 A.D.

Surrounded by a bunch of cynical dinner guests, the Time Traveller explains that time is a fourth dimension that can ultimately be manipulated and explored. He presents a miniature model of a Time Machine but the dinner guests are somewhat sceptical and distrusting. The following week, the guests re-group to discover a bedraggled looking Time Traveller, whom has just returned from the future. Upon composing himself, the roughed-up adventurer tells them of his various discoveries. The new world he stumbled upon had undergone a major transformation – specifically, humans had evolved into a new race of elf-like adults with an air of childhood innocence called the Eloi.

There are no industries or careers in 802,701 A.D. and the spectrum of human emotions – such as love and hate – no longer drive the soul. The Eloi all wear the same clothes, they all eat the same food; incidentally they are all vegetarians, blandly surviving on the fruits of the land. In this new realm of existence, individuality isn’t encouraged or celebrated. A lack of curiosity, need and desire seems to be responsible for this peaceful [and suggested ‘communist’] community. There is little for them to feel passionate about; hence, there is no war, no greed, no anger or hate. Strength and intellect is not required here, as there is no need to practice and develop man’s survival instinct in a utopian society.

English is a long forgotten language and they barely make the effort to communicate with the old-world-er in their midst. Shortly after arrival, the time machine goes missing and the Time Traveller soon discovers it has been stolen by the underworld race; the mangled Morlocks.

During his tale, the Time Traveller hypothesises that in the past world the Morlocks would have been those working-classes who spent their days mining in darkness. Under the control of the decadent elite – the Eloi – the presumed inferior human race grew to adapt to their enforced lifestyle. But in this future state, the tables have turned and karma has caught up, and in this new reality the Morlocks feed on the frail and ill-fated Eloi.

This science-fiction novella is written as a narration-within-a-narration; and subsequently it’s quite wordy and long-winded. In my view, the story only picks up when fear is introduced. This tale offers commentary on the inner workings of the human psyche, but it also embodies political undertones, no doubt spurred by the state of late Victorian England. Wells warns us that if things continue the way they are, the world will head into a troubled future – a terrifying dystopia. His novella suggests that current society change its ways or else…

For a short book, this is a meaty read. And definitely offers food for thought. Pretty scary too. ** Shudders ** 

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