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Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Time Machine

Today I'm reviewing The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. This is a truly great piece of classic Science Fiction. The story revolves around a group of people listening to the narrative of a man who claims to have invented and used a machine that allowed him to go into the distant future and view the fate of mankind.

Long story short: The Time Traveler uses his machine to go into the much distant future, and when her gets there he sees an evolved form of mankind called the Eloi, who are peaceful, simple, and seems to be free of social class or suffering. He observes their behavior and goes out to explore the nearby area. When he returns to the place he left his time machine, he discovers that it is gone.

He begins to panic and searches frantically, only to figure out that it has been placed inside the pedestal of a nearby statue. He examines the pedestal, but can find no way to pry it open, and he ends up spending the night there. He notices the Eloi become agitated at night, and he catches glimpses of white, apelike creatures which the  Eloi call Morlocks.

Being as the Time Traveler and Eloi don't speak the same language, he can't figure out what the Morlocks are or why the Eloi are terrified of them- he only knows that they are very pale, very agile, and only come out at night. He grows curious about them, and tries to find one to get a better look. He manages to follow one, only to see it climb down a tube that lead underground, which leads him to believe that the Morlocks took his machine.

One day, the Time Traveler saves an Eloi woman, Weena, from drowning. After she is saved, she follows the Time Traveler around, placing flowers on him and showering him with affection. He tries to get her to explain the Morlocks to him, but she grows agitated at their mention and he learns nothing. He decides to climb down one of the well-like tubes that lead underground to find the Morlocks, find his machine, and get back to his own time.

Once underground, he finds a sophisticated network of tunnels and machinery. He finds some Morlocks while they are eating a meal of meat. This strikes him as unusual, since there are no cattle and the Eloi eat fruit. That's when he realizes that there are no old Eloi. No sick Eloi, either. The Eloi ARE the cattle! Realizing his danger, he barely escapes the Morlocks without becoming their next meal.

During his escape, he finds that matches are a useful tools against the Morlocks because they are adapted to the dark and the bright light of fire blinds them. He also realizes that he's been wasting his matches, and has very few left. He decides to journey to a large ruin in the distance in the hopes that it will have some means to make fire so he can find a way to get the Morlocks to give him back his machine and hopefully find a way to help protect the Eloi.

The Time Traveler and Weena make it to the ruin, which, as it turns out, used to be a museum. He finds some useful items against the Morlocks, and starts to head back. The Morlocks pursue him and Weena, There's some struggling, and an accidental forest fire which kills off a number of Morlocks and Weena.

When the Time Traveler makes it back to the statue, the pedestal is open and his machine is visible. He climbs in, and the Morlocks close those door, thinking they have him trapped- but the Time Traveler hops on his machine, fires it up, and gets out of there in a hurry.

He goes further into the future, sees a mostly dead world with a giant red sun, really thin air, and some large aggressive crabs. Then he decides its time to go home. He goes back to his time, tells his story, and most people don't believe him.

This story touches on a lot of social issues not highlighted in this review. It is a story which makes you think, and that is my favorite kind. It is also a story which has managed to stay relevant over a hundred years after it was written, and even though it is a bit short you still get a deep feel for the characters. I recommend this story to anyone who wants to broaden the way they think of the fate of our species- and I think it should be required reading for anyone who claims to enjoy science fiction. 


  1. I think I read this a long time ago, but I now I'm not sure because I don't remember any of this.

  2. Admittedly, I have not read this classic, but saw the film (hanging my head in shame). No doubt the book was far superior, and I will put it on my to read list. Great review.