The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

The Time MachineThe Time Machine by H.G. Wells

Format: e-book (epub file)
Read from February 24, 2014 to February 28, 2014
My rating: ★★★★

The Time Machine is a science fiction novella written by H. G. Wells, which was published in 1895. The author was also the one who coined the term “time machine” through this novella, and it has long since universally used to refer to such vehicle that is capable of travelling through time. With its steady presence in bookstores as well as various film adaptations and several derivative works, The Time Machine is definitely considered as a timeless literary classic that has spanned more than a decade.

The Time Machine is a story about a man (referred to as Time Traveller) who was obsessed with the idea of travelling through time. He also proposes that aside from the known and accepted dimensions—Length, Breadth, and Thickness—there is a Fourth Dimension, Time, which could also be traveled by man. With this, he built a time machine to prove that it is possible. However he was surprised when he traveled forward to the year 802,701 A.D. The Time Traveller discovered that Man has evolved into two-species: the ones living in the “Upper-world” (or on the face of the Earth)—the small, childlike-like Eloi who are carefree and seemed to have lost the kind of intellectual capacity present in today’s man; and the ones living in the “Under-world” (or beneath the surface of the Earth)—the savage, ape-like Morlocks who had became albino-like and sensitive to light because of years of living underground.

The Eloi people survived through fruit-diet; while, to the Time Traveller’s puzzlement, the Morlocks are carnivorous (even animals had became extinct at that time). He also noticed that there are no old people in the Eloi. The Time Traveller theorizes that the Eloi is a peaceful communist society with the lack of curiosity and deteriorated intelligence because some time before 802,701 A.D., Man has finally triumph over their many struggles. Hence, intelligence—which the Time Traveller believes as a result of Necessity—is no longer essential in Man’s survival. He also speculates that the Eloi and Morlocks are the result of upper-classes and working classes; but to his horror, he realized that those roles had been altered into livestock-ranchers, with the Morlocks providing the needs of the Eloi so they could eat the Eloi for their survival.

The Time Traveller also traveled further ahead to 30 million years after his own time, and discovered that the Earth is dying, with the Sun gradually becoming larger and redder and fainter. The last living things on Earth are menacing crab-like creatures with the world covered in lichenous vegetation. Overwhelmed, he went back in time and returns to his laborary to narrate his adventures to his disbelieving visitors. The next day, we was preparing for another journey, saying he will return after half an hour; but he was nowhere to be found for three years.


I think H. G. Wells really made an incredible, timeless literary work with The Time Machine. It reflects his socio-political views at that time, and also made “theories” about the future of human beings and of Earth. It was remarkable that he chose a year which is really far ahead from his own time, even in his present time. He didn’t choose a nearer year, and for me that is one of the things that made his novella amazing. For me, it means that if ever those “theories” in the novella would ever came true, it would definitely take a painstakingly long time and arduous process.

In addition, I remembered a manga that I read a couple of years ago, Memories of Emanon, where I first encountered the idea of “devolution”. Devolution is a notion that species can change into more primitive forms over time. I think it was really an stunning idea when I first encountered it, and now I encountered it again while reading The Time Machine. As the Earth dies, it became more and more similar to the way it was in the beginning epoch of the world: Man becoming more primitive and use low or no technology at all, lesser number of species and kinds of living things, atmosphere is becoming thinner, until sentient species of Man cease to exist and the Earth became a hollow, lifeless mass.

Admittedly, I have watched the 2002 film adaptation (in free TV) a couple of years back before reading it. The book and the movie have lots of differences, though I must say that the 2002 movie was a good adaptation of the book even though it didn’t remain faithful to the story. However, as I was reading the novella, I could say to myself that it is really an amazing story in its own right, and The Time Machine very much deserved to be treated as one of the classic books and H. G. Wells earned his right to be acknowledged as one of the founding fathers of science fiction genre.

Originally posted here.


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