H.G. Wells famous story The Time Machine was first published in 1885. Since that time there have been numerous stories of time travel written, but Wells story is credited with coining the term "time machine", and the entire genre of time travel related fiction can probably trace its roots to this late 19th century story.
Is it still worth reading today, almost 130 years later? I think that is is. Unlike many modern stories and novels, this is not a tale dominated by violence, conflict, and technology. In fact, the workings of the Wells time machine are essentially not explained. The story presents the experiences of a late 19th century British scientist, as he travels into the far future and then returns and relates his experiences to his friends in their parlor. His journey had taken him to a world that may have progressed to some unstated level of advancement, but has then fallen back for unknown reasons into a simple society populated by two races, both reduced to their most elemental levels (the Eloi, on the surface, living trivial and undemanding lives, and the Morlocks who live below the surface and prey at night on the harmless and defenseless Eloi).
In my rediscovery of this novel over the past couple of weeks, I did not find this to be a deep, thought provoking story. I know that the scholarly interpretations of it believe that Wells was projecting his views of unchecked capitalism into the far future, describing society that had decayed into two primitive races. You can take that view of the story and use it for the basis of some very valuable debate over the pros and cons of how, taken to an extreme, society could evolve far beyond such distinct classes of "haves" and "have-nots" as we have today. The future described by Wells is certainly quite different from what most of us today might expect. Most visions of future society, and much of the science fiction that I have read, includes elaborate advancements in technology which lead to both good and bad results in the lives of those in the future. This story is a very interesting contrast to those views, and it is an interesting view into the thought process of an 18th century educated man, as he tries to make sense of a future world that at first glance does not fit his models of how a society should function.
Like other works by Wells (The War of the Worlds, for example), the main character in the story is unnamed. Also like other stories by Wells, and unlike many works written during this same time period, the style of writing is easy for us to read and understand today. It is written in a very conversational manner and would be suitable reading for elementary school level readers and above. This is a short novel, approximately 100 pages or so in printed form.
The version that I read was the Kindle version from Atria books, published by Simon & Schuster. It is a very satisfactory edition and presently available at no cost from the Kindle store.