Jul 03

Alien Voices: Time Machine

Posted by Soliloquy in Books on CD

In this fully dramatized version of H.G. Wells’ classic, The Time Machine, Leonard Nimoy, John de Lancie, and cast members from Star TrekĀ® feature films and all four series take you on an incredible journey. When a time traveler seeks a better world 802,000 years into the future, his optimism is shaken when he discovers that the human race has turned upon itself in a primal display of horror. Featuring virtuoso performances from the entire cast, riveting sound ef… More >>

Alien Voices: Time Machine

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  • It goes without saying that this book is a science fiction classic in every sense of the word and that H.G. Wells was a founding father of the genre. This book proves that science fiction does not necessarily need to be heavily technical but does need to deal with grand themes such as the nature of society; man’s hopes, dreams, and fears; and the very humanity of man. Wells does not go to great lengths in describing the time machine nor how it works. He lays the foundation of the story in science and then proceeds with his somewhat moralistic and certainly socially conscious story. This makes his writing much more enjoyable than that of a Jules Verne, who liked to fill up pages with scientific and highly technical nomenclature. One of the more striking aspects of the novel is Wells’ treatment of the actual experience of time travel–moving in time is not like opening and walking through a door. There are physical and emotional aspects of the time travel process–in fact, some of the most descriptive passages in the book are those describing what the Time Traveler experiences and sees during his time shifts.

    Basically, Wells is posing the question of What will man be like in the distant future? His answer is quite unlike any kind of scenario that modern readers, schooled on Star Wars, Star Trek, and the like, would come up with. He gives birth to a simple and tragic society made up of the Eloi and the Morlocks. In contrasting these two groups, he offers a critique of sorts of men in his own time. Clearly, he is worried about the gap between the rich and the poor widening in his own world and is warning his readers of the dangers posed by such a growing rift. It is most interesting to see how the Time Traveler’s views of the future change over the course of his stay there. At first, he basically thinks that the Morlocks, stuck underground, have been forced to do all the work of man while the Eloi on the surface play and dance around in perpetual leisure. Later, he realizes that the truth is more complicated than that. The whole book seems to be a warning against scientific omniscience and communal living. The future human society that the Time Traveler finds is supposedly ideal–free of disease, wars, discrimination, intensive labor, poverty, etc. However, the great works of man have been lost–architectural, scientific, philosophical, literary, etc.–and human beings have basically become children, each one dressing, looking, and acting the same. The time traveler opines that the loss of conflict and change that came in the wake of society’s elimination of health, political, and social issues served to stagnate mankind. Without conflict, there is no achievement, and mankind atrophies both mentally and physically.

    This basic message of the novel is more than applicable today. While it is paramount that we continue to research and discover new scientific facts about ourselves and the world, we must not come to view science as a religion that can ultimately recreate the earth as an immense garden of Eden. Knowledge itself is far less important than the healthy pursuit of that knowledge. Man’s greatness lies in his ability to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. Speaking only for myself, I think this novel points out the dangerousness of Communism and points to the importance of individualism–if you engineer a society in which every person is “the same” and “equal,” then you have doomed that society.

  • When I tried reading this book as a child many, many years ago, some of the “big” words and allusions made it hard going, and I never completed it then. Finally, about fifteen years ago I did read it through, but still was missing something. Then, a few weeks ago, I got this edition, after having enjoyed the Penguin edition of “The War of the Worlds” with its annotations and map. Well, the annotations in this edition (about four pages worth as endnotes) of “The Time Machine” cleared away whatever fuzz remained, and I was completely overcome by the greatness of the book, great from whatever way I looked at it: plot, speculation, characters, “sense of wonder”, even throw away humor were all topnotch. I couldn’t believe what I’d been missing. A few days later, I read another editon of the book that didn’t have notes, and had no trouble following that version. I plan to reread the book again shortly. So if you’ve had difficulty reading “The Time Machine” for some of the reasons mentioned above, get this version pronto and find out what a true classic is.

  • This is the little number that started it all. For the English-speaking world (some translations of Verne possibly aside), science fiction begins with the four brief, brilliant novels published by H G Wells in the 1890s. The War of the Worlds is a still-unsurpassed alien invasion story; The Invisible Man one of the first world-dominating mad scientist tales; and The Island of Dr Moreau a splendidly misanthropic story of artificial evolution and genetic modification. But The Time Machine came first, launching Wells’ career in literature; and, after just over a century, there still isn’t anything nearly like it. A Victorian inventor travels to the year 802701, where the class divisions of Wells’ day have evolved two distinct human races: the helpless, childlike and luxurious Eloi and the monstrous, mechanically adept and subterranean Morlocks. Predictably, the film version turned them into the usual Good Guys and Bad Guys, though it’s still worth seeing, particularly for its conception of the Time Machine itself – a splendid piece of Victorian gadgetry. The book, despite its sociological-satirical premise, is rather more complex in its treatment of the opposed races, and the Time Traveller’s voyage ends, not with them, but still further in the future, with images of a dead sun and a dark earth populated only by scuttling, indefinite shadows. As in the other three novels, too, the premise of the story is carefully worked out and clearly explained – a discipline largely beyond science fiction today, in which time travel, invading aliens or whatever are simply taken for granted as convenient genre props and automatic thought-nullifiers. After more than a century, The Time Machine is still waiting for the rest of us to catch up.

  • This is a classic tale about a researcher who, while he was the equivalent of a graduate student in physics, discovers a treatment for making himself invisible (using chemicals and mathematical expressions containing four dimensions). He quickly discovers how dependent he is on others and that he doesn’t have the power he thought he would. I had always thought, based on what I had heard about the film based on this book, that the invisibility process made the researcher (Griffin) mad. However, upon reading the novel, I find that Griffin is morally and ethically bankrupt long before he takes the treatment. His initial reasons for becoming invisible is to avoid paying his rent (as he sneaks out of the building, he sets it on fire as a “lesson” for his landlord). All he thinks about is himself and to have power over others. He steals from his father who, since it wasn’t his money, commits suicide. Griffin goes to the funeral simply because it is expected of him; but, he feels no remorse. He is a man who feels that the end (his power) justifies the means. Wells clearly has Griffin as the villian.

  • First published in 1895, THE TIME MACHINE was Wells’ first novel–and it immediately established him at the forefront of writers of his era. And although Wells would go onto a very long and distinguished career that included some one hundred published books, THE TIME MACHINE remains one of his most popular novels to this day.

    The story has been famous for over one hundred years. The narrator, identified only as “The Time Traveler,” has created a machine capable of moving through time. He boards the machine and rushes headlong into the future–where he finds himself in the strangely utopian society of the “Eloi.” But unbeknownst to the time traveler, that society is built on the back of a much darker one, the underground world of the “Morlock,” who supply the Eloi’s every need in order to harvest them like cattle.

    Wells was an extremely didactic writer, a social reformer whose thoughts inform virtually everything he wrote. In many respects THE TIME MACHINE is the perfect example of this, drawing the reader in through an exciting story that Wells turns into a social parable. Born under the rigid class system of Victorian England, Wells had quite a lot to say about the benefits and evils of such a social system, and his thoughts on the subject are extremely clear here–as are his thoughts about the then-new theory of natural selection. The result is an elegant but often fearsome portrait of how class systems and natural selection might combine to create a uniquely horrific civilization.

    Wells would return to these themes again and again, perhaps most obviously in THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU and THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON–both excellent novels in their own right. But if you are new to Wells, THE TIME MACHINE is an excellent beginning, for it offers a sampling of his mind in remarkably concise fashion. Strongly recommended.

    GFT, Amazon Reviewer



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