Zipping into the dismal future

The Time MachineThe Time Machine by H.G. Wells

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In his London bachelor quarters, a well-to-do amateur inventor and mechanics enthusiast astounds his friends with a tiny working model of what he describes as a time machine, which when a little lever is adjusted slightly, vanishes — into the future, according to the host. A week later, some of these same friends and others return for a second dinner, but when the host returns late, he looks haggard and his clothes are torn. He has, he tells them, journeyed on his machine (the full-sized model, like a stationary bicycle with special levers) far into the future — to 802,701 AD — when London no longer exists but in its place are strange ruins inhabited by a gentle, listless, indolent race of little people called the Eloi, who do no work and seem to make no special effort at all but are well-clothed and fed. He eventually discovers that underground lives another race of much more enterprising and savage little people, the Morlocks, who presumably manufacture the clothing and other necessities of the Eloi and ghost-like emerge at night to snatch some of them to carry back underground and cook and eat them. Such is the distant future of the division of London's social classes, the ever more indolent and incapable aristocracy and upper bourgeoisie, and the ever more savage laboring poor on whom they come to depend. This is not the first time-travel fantasy (see Wikipedia Time Travel in Fiction) nor even the first to claim a mechanical conveyance, but is the one that has inspired more imitators. The characters are exceedingly simple, the dialogue is completely monotone and the physical descriptions are also very simple, but the one thing this little book has going for it is its stimulating concept, time travel.

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