The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells

June 5, 2011 at 21:31 (Book Reviews, Fiction, Highly Rated Books, Science Fiction) (, , , , , )


The emphasis of this story is set up rather blatantly as H. G. Wells’ analysis of the human condition: our permanence, our value and importance; where we came from and where we are going. The anonymity of the entire cast of characters reflects this choice, but in and of itself is a delightful choice, and one which strangely enhanced the characters instead of obscuring them: they appeared as a group of strangers only just introduced, and turned the entire narrative into a sort of chance encounter with transient acquaintances. Very Victorian and atmospheric.

The story itself was pleasant enough not to be too onesided. Wells’ secular humanism was balanced out by his due caution and pessimism, and by his latent socialism, which took the saccharine sweet edge from his utopia, and raised some interesting questions. The willingness to flit over vast swathes of adventure, and focus only on a handful of rich and interesting encounters, as opposed to hunkering down for a dry and detailed account of every facet of the future world, was refreshing to say the least, and ensured that every paragraph was thrilling and deeply interesting. Finally, his style was clear and easy, and not over-given to musty and cumbersome prose; but possessing a dignity and earnestness all of its own. Well considered a classic, and a page-turner from beginning to end.


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