Once again I feel bad, having abandoned my poor little blog for almost three weeks. Even worse, I missed my first bloggiversary!! What can I say? We all get busy from time to time… Had I remembered it, I would have thanked all my followers for sticking with me – in spite of my sometimes patchy posting record – so I’ll take this opportunity of doing that now instead…THANK YOU!!
Fortunately I’ve still had plenty of time to read (a couple of 2-hour train rides a week for work will do that) and I’ve now made good on my promise to read H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine, after I watched a movie adaptation first. I suspected at the time that this would be a mistake, and it turns out I was right.
My first impression of The Time Machine was this: Unless you are a morning person, this is not a book you should start reading at 7:30 am. Wait until your brain is completely in gear and ready to process lots of scientific details and obsolete vocabulary. I was extremely grateful for my Kindle’s dictionary, as on the first page alone there were 4 or 5 words which I only vaguely understood, and more were sprinkled throughout the rest of the novel.
The narrative is told in first-person: one narrator introduces the Time Traveller, then hands over to him for the bulk of the story (most of which takes place in the distant future). We are then returned to the original narrator for the epilogue.
Only a few characters are named: there is ‘Filby’, a minor character who disappears entirely after the first chapter or two, the Time Traveller’s household staff, and ‘Weena’ a female of the surface-dwelling ‘Eloi’ (one of two distinct species of humans the Time Traveller encounters in the future – the other being the underground dwelling ‘Morlocks’). All other characters are merely referred to by their occupations: the Medical Professional, the Psychologist, the Editor, the Journalist etc.
Although I found it hard to immerse myself in the story, I was struck by the authenticity of it. The Time Traveller’s confusion in the future, unable to understand the language of the people and therefore constantly making false assumptions about the world in which he found himself struck a chord. None of this made it into the movie adaption I watched – I suppose Hollywood weren’t prepared to make a movie where the characters could interact only by pointing… As it turns out, many of the most memorable parts of the movie were Hollywood additions, not in the novel at all.
One more thing…I don’t wish to spoil the ending of either book or movie, but I will say that although they end up in more or less the same place, the routes they take to get there are vastly different.
So…who should read it? Fans of sci-fi for sure, if only so you can say you’ve read it (as it is a staple of the genre). Other than that, I’d say it’s short, so try it if you want to…but I don’t see myself re-reading it any time soon.