Since H.G. Wells had his novella The Time Machine published in 1895, there has been a string of adaptations and works that have been inspired by it. Wether it be the 1960 film starring Rod Taylor, a BBC radio production, or a reference on a popular tv show, the reach of this classic science fiction novel seems to never end.
Reading it and having seen the films are completely different experiences, though, as reading the book feels like one man actually telling a story about his travels through time. It wasn’t always an easy read with a severe lack of dialogue for around 70 pages or with overwhelming descriptions of things that didn’t feel too important, like when the Time Traveller was exploring the ruins of a museum that was lost to the impacts of time. Looking past these moments of groan inducing descriptions lies a really important novel to the genre of science fiction, but also to people who may agree that it’s very possible that the world is going to shit.
As cool as it is to just think of the Eloi and the Morlocks as surreal and memorable creations, Wells is also presenting a fairly exaggerated but altogether realistic warning. I didn’t read The Time Machine as a warning involving the climate, but more so as a warning to mankind not to get too comfortable. Many times, the Time Traveller complains that the Eloi have gotten so dumbed down because of their complacency and ridding themselves of disease and work. This has made them weak and childish. I interpreted this novel as Wells’ fears in narrative form that instead of going forward, we will ultimately move backwards, especially considering the track we’re on with the economy, technology, and other sciences.
The Time Machine wasn’t always an entertaining read, but for anyone with any kind of interest in literature, I feel like it’s a necessity. Like E.M. Forster’s The Machine Stops, it feels very ahead of its time in terms of the lore of the story, but also the opinions of the author and his fears for the future, especially in the early years of technological advancement following the Industrial Revolution.