Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Time Machine - H G Wells

Since Wells' The Time Machine is included in the Masterworks edition of The War of the Worlds, and the story is astonishingly short (a mere 90 pages in this edition), I decided to read it this morning before re-reading The Thief Lord (expect a spoilerish review of this either tomorrow or Tuesday depending on how tired I am from travelling back to Oxford).

A Victorian scientist propels himself into the year 802,701 AD and is initially delighted to find that suffering has apparently been replaced by beauty, peace and contentment. At first he is entranced by the Eloi, an elfin species descended from humanity, but he soon realises that this beautiful people are simply the remnants of a once-great culture, who are now weak and childishly afraid of the dark. However, he then discovers that they have every reason to be afraid: in deep tunnels beneath their paradise lurks another race, also descended from humanity, the sinister ape-like Morlocks. They hijack his time machine and it becomes clear that he will have to search the tunnels if he is ever to return to his own era.

Wells' novels seem quite depressing on the subject of humanity's future prospects (both The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds are quite scathing about the divisions between the aristocracy and the workers), but they are still gripping books.

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