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on September 14, 2010
In any discussion of the history of Science Fiction, H. G. (Herbert George) Wells is sure to be mentioned, and "The Time Machine" is the first of his novels/novellas. Wells may not have invented the genre, but his impact on it would be difficult to overstate. Unlike Verne, Wells was able to go beyond just what could be accomplished by science currently, and the invention of a Time Machine is central to the story Wells is telling. That is not to say that he has nothing to say on current sciences as well, just that he allows stories to take readers far beyond that which Verne would allow.

The history of "The Time Machine" is an unusual one. Wells had used the subject of time travel repeatedly starting in 1888 with his incomplete serial "The Chronic Argonauts". It next took form in a series of articles published in "The National Observer" in 1894, and then finally as a serial novel in "The New Review" in early 1895 when editor W. E. Henley moved from one publication to the other at the end of 1894 and convinced Wells to write it as a serial for his new publication.

The story itself is quite unusual as well. Wells refrains from naming the Time Traveler at all, and the narrator also remains nameless except one reference to a person named Hillyer in the final chapter before the Epilogue, which apparently refers to him. The only major character whose name is repeatedly used is Weena, the childlike woman whom the Time Traveler meets in the year 802,701 A.D. Though Verne would have considered the Time Machine a cheat, i.e. non-scientific, Wells does include other bits and pieces of science in the telling of this tale and there is a point he is making about science as well. He touches on evolution, astrophysics, and sociology in looking at what could happen to a society if life is too much of a utopia, as well as looking at the social divisions in the society of his time and where they may lead.

The story is a quick read, at around 90 pages, and just 12 chapters and the epilogue the reader can easily get through this in a single sitting if they desire. It also, despite its flaws, captures the reader's attention and so one is willing to forgive the flaws in the story-telling.

The Penguin Classics edition of "The Time Machine" also contains an Introduction by Marina Warner, notes on the text by the editor Patrick Parrinder, and textual notes by Steven Mclean. Lastly, though certainly not least, it contains Wells preface to the 1931 edition of "The Time Machine" in which Wells discusses the circumstances in his life when he wrote it, as well as his view that the work will outlive him. Flawed though the story may be, it is a significant work, very readable, and the Penguin Classics edition adds to the experience with the added material.
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on July 7, 2004
This is the story of an inventor that travels to the distant future in hopes of seeing how advanced humankind has become.
Instead, he finds humanity divided into two separate but interdependent species. There are the peaceful, beautiful, indolent, and fairly stupid Eloi who live a life of ease in a surface garden where they await being summoned by the Morlocks who are ugly, brutish, and cannibalistic. The Morlocks live underground where they run machines and just about everything else as well.
Ignorant of the Morlocks, the inventor make the acquaintance of an Eloi woman named Weena and, typical of the 19th-century male, finds her lack of actual intelligence rather endearing and falls in love with her. She shows him through the ruins of all that remains of his ancient world. There seems to have been a nuclear war, which is interesting, since this book was written in the 19th, NOT the 20th century.
When the Morlocks introduce themselves to the inventor by stealing his time machine, he must set about to rescue both himself and the Eloi....
The only reason I give this old favorite of mine 4 stars instead of 5 is for the often old-fashioned language that, though fast-paced for a Victorian novel, is still sometimes rather heavy in places. Yet the wonderful story more than redeems itself.
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on June 19, 2004
H.G. Wells, in The Time Machine, spins a classic tale full of adventure, vivid landscapes, sci-fi speculation and even a bit of veiled socialist politics.
An eccentric scientist, known only as the Time Traveller to us, invents a machine that can travel along the fourth dimension, which he has discovered to be time. He flings himself into the far future. Is there high civilization? No. Is there high technology? No. What he finds in the future is far more curious...
Personally, I couldn't put it down. I was reading it on a train trip, and I was so involved, I almost missed my station! Well's style really drew me in. It was like being told the story by an old friend. His descriptions are simple and effective, and you can almost feel the curiousity of the Time Traveller. Like him, you will want to know what happens next, from the speculations at the beginning, to the question filled ending.
Though much of it has been imitated and repeated in time travelling stories since, I thought the "scientific" parts of the book were still fresh today, particularly the reasons Wells gives for why we can't naturally go back in time, and why you will never see a person in the process of travelling back in time. Very clever.
In some ways, the "future" part of the book is a cautionary tale, in some ways it's a social commentary. Either way, the general message I got is that the actions of the past will have consequences in the future, even if we might not see them. Extensions of this concept have been very well used in science fiction since.
If you're looking for a well written adventure to capture you're imagination for a few hours, the Time Machine is a book worth checking out. Exciting and thought provoking all the way.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon August 31, 2005
An unnamed time traveler sees the future of man (802,701 A.D.) and then the inevitable future of the world. He tells his tale in detail.

I grew up on the Rod Taylor /George Pal movie. When I started the book I expected it to be slightly different with a tad more complexity as with most book/movie relationships. I was surprised to find the reason for the breakup of species (Morlock and Eloi) was class Vs atomic (in later movie versions it was political). I could live with that but to find that some little pink thing replaced Yvette Mimieux was too munch.

After al the surprises we can look at the story as unique in its time, first published in 1895, yet the message is timeless. The writing and timing could not have been better. And the ending was certainly appropriate for the world that he describes. Possibly if the story were written today the species division would be based on eugenics.
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on May 27, 2004
Although I didn't like this one as much as Wells' other books, I did enjoy it and I am glad I read it. His view of the future is one that is interesting and thought-provoking. The book remains fresh and suprising despite its age. Unfortunately, it doesn't really seem to go anywhere. The reader learns the theme of the book pretty early on, and the rest of the book the reader follows the time traveler home. I feel like Wells could have done more with this book and done more with the main character, the time traveler.
Although this book was fun to read, and the theme was very interesting and worth thinking about, more could have been done and the reader is left a little unfulfilled. If you have read HG Wells and enjoyed his other books then I definately think you should read this one. If not, I suggest you start with some of his other works like Dr. Moreau or The Invisible Man.
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on July 20, 2004
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells depeicts the story of a man known as the time traveler who travels into the distant future with a time machine that he creates.
I enjoyed this book pretty well, it is quite short and a quick read. The story is told through the voice of a man who is visiting the time travalers house at one of his many dinner parties. The entire book is written in first person. All and all a good book and an interesting view on what future lies ahead as told in the late 19th century.
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on September 4, 2013
This is not a book, it is a comic book. The story is retold by Terry Davis, and it lacks almost every component of the original story. He even modified the ending. This is a really bad abridged version of the novel, and is not worth buying unless you want to look at drawings for children. It was very disappointing, and I feel like I have been robbed.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon April 17, 2016
An unnamed time traveler sees the future of man (802,701 A.D.) and then the inevitable future of the world. He tells his tale in detail. Some of the details are fascinating as the traveler come to discover the secret of the results of social striation over centuries which eventually creates two separate species from humans. Which species is the more human? Can anything be done to prevent or correct this?

I grew up on the Rod Taylor /George Pal movie. When I started the book I expected it to be slightly different with a tad more complexity as with most book/movie relationships. I was surprised to find the reason for the breakup of species (Morlock and Eloi) was class Vs atomic (in later movie versions it was political). I could live with that but to find that some little pink thing replaced Yvette Mimieux was too much.

After all the surprises we can look at the story as unique in its time, first published in 1895, yet the message is timeless. The writing and timing could not have been better. And the ending was certainly appropriate for the world that he describes. Possibly, if the story were written today the species division would be based on eugenics.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon October 18, 2013
An unnamed time traveler sees the future of man (802,701 A.D.) and then the inevitable future of the world. He tells his tale in detail. Some of the details are fascinating as the traveler come to discover the secret of the results of social striation over centuries which eventually creates two separate species from humans. Which species is the more human? Can anything be done to prevent or correct this?

I grew up on the Rod Taylor /George Pal movie. When I started the book I expected it to be slightly different with a tad more complexity as with most book/movie relationships. I was surprised to find the reason for the breakup of species (Morlock and Eloi) was class Vs atomic (in later movie versions it was political). I could live with that but to find that some little pink thing replaced Yvette Mimieux was too munch.

After all the surprises we can look at the story as unique in its time, first published in 1895, yet the message is timeless. The writing and timing could not have been better. And the ending was certainly appropriate for the world that he describes. Possibly, if the story were written today the species division would be based on eugenics.

Anticipations: Of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress upon Human life and Thought

The Time Machine Starring: Rod Taylor, Yvette Mimieux
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While I commend both HG Wells and Jules Verne for creating a new fictional genre that has proven itself to be highly prophetic, there is a major problem with this fictional selection. The story, in itself, is very gripping and the futuristic rides of our 'hero' are very revealing. In the first case the human population has evolved into two distinct species, one of which is blandly placid the other of which has adapted solely for the sake of its own survival. The second journey takes us to the era where the sun is decaying and the earth, in turn, has devolved back into its initial beginnings of the evolutionary process.

That being said, the problem with this novel lies in its protagonist. In order for a fictional tale to be successful the 'hero' is depicted as one who we, the reader, can easily identify with or is so extreme from our manner of thought that we are entranced with his opposing personae. The nameless time traveler of 'The Time Machine' is neither. He is depicted as being one of the most cowardly, whiney and purposeless characters imaginable. Most of the time he is nearing a fainting spell or nausea, he lacks any common sense planning abilities or he simply sits around feeling sorry for himself. While I realize that laboratory scientists are not the most 'manly' creatures we find in nature, I have experienced three year olds who were more rationally centered than this character!
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