Book #92: The Time Machine

I read The Time Machine I was in sixth grade. All I remembered of it was that he went to the future and there was this girl thing called Weena and she died. My memory was pretty accurate, I guess.

If there’s anyone out there who somehow doesn’t know, H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine is the original science fiction time traveling story. You’re welcome, Doctor Who fans. Basically, during the Victorian Era, this crazy scientist dude builds a time machine and is all excited to go to the future and see how awesome everything is. He gets there and finds out that humans have essentially evolved to be unrecognizable. There are two distinct groups – the pudgy, friendly Eloi, descended from the genteel, leisure class, and the dark and ominous Morlocks, who live underground and at one time worked the factories and machines that kept life on the surface going.

While 11-year-old me got the basic plot of The Time Machine, she totally missed the social commentary. I suppose that’s to be expected though. It’s not like I knew a ton about the social order of Industrial Revolution-era England. I’ve re-read several books now that I read when I was younger, but this is the first time that I’ve really been shocked at how much I really missed when I read them the first time around.

There is a clear, “Um, this utopia we think we’re working towards with all these machines is not going to work out very well in the end” vibe here. That, I suppose, is nothing that modern readers aren’t used to now. I did think it’s interesting that Wells wrote an almost evolutionary divide between the working class and the leisure class. The Morlocks are literally a different, darker, and more dangerous thing than the Eloi. And at this point, the Eloi have become useless and the Morlocks dangerous and able to literally feed on the Eloi – the tables have totally turned.

Interesting to think about, even today. I can’t say I’m surprised that I missed out on this aspect of the book when I was a kid, I guess it just goes to show that maybe you should re-read the “classics” you read when you were way younger; you never know what you’ll discover this time around.

Rating: ***
Up Next: The Devil and Miss Prym


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