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DanSchwent

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The Time Machine (Signet Classics)

The Time Machine - Greg Bear, H.G. Wells A Victorian-era scientist calls together a group of men and tells them of his recent adventure, a trip through time...

I had intended to participate in a reading of this with the Distinguished Society of Pantless Readers but once I had a taste, I wolfed the whole tale down in one sitting.

The Time Machine is probably the first time travel story and definitely a spiritual ancestor of every time travel story since. The nameless time traveler whips up a time machine and travels through time. What could be simpler?

The Traveler goes to the year 802,000 and encounters the descendants of man, the Eloi and the Morlocks. Wells uses the Eloi and the Morlocks to illustrate the class differences in his own time but the Traveler's speculation on the haves and have-nots sounded very familiar, a nice bit of timeless social satire. After some misadventures, he returns home and no one believes him. To show those assholes, he goes on another jaunt and was never head from again. At least at the time of the Time Machine's publication.

The Time Machine broke a lot of new ground. It was probably the first time travel story and it could be argued that it was both the first dystopian sf story and the first Dying Earth tale. It's also not much of a stretch to call it an ancestor of the planetary romance genre as well. There's not a lot separating The Traveler from John Carter of Mars, if you think about it.

While there's a lot of fun timey-wimey stuff going on, Wells' prose isn't easy to digest. Part of it is the writing style of the time and another part is that science fiction was still in diapers at the time this was written.

Wells' depiction of future Earth was a very memorable one, one that influenced countless authors that came after. Adjusting for the time period, The Time Machine is a fun yet somewhat difficult read. Four out of five Sonic Screwdrivers.