“Any real body must have extension in four directions: it must have Length, Breadth, Thickness, and—Duration. But through a natural infirmity of the flesh, which I will explain to you in a moment, we incline to overlook this fact. There are really four dimensions, three which we call the three planes of Space, and a fourth, Time. There is, however, a tendency to draw an unreal distinction between the former three dimensions and the latter, because it happens that our consciousness moves intermittently in one direction along the latter from the beginning to the end of our lives.”
Ah! The original wibbly wobbly timey wimey novel (well, Mark Twain’s [b:A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court|162898|A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court|Mark Twain|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348239402s/162898.jpg|2621763] predates The Time Machine
, and perhaps some other books as well, but never mind, you can put me right in the comments section if you want). Certainly it is the first one that I ever read as a wee lad. Last week I was looking for a short free audiobook for a bus journey and for some read on I thought of H.G. Wells and picked The Time Machine
as it is my favorite.
The only problem I have with reading this book is that it is already “spoiled” long before I read the first paragraph. I remember all the major plot points very well, and what sci-fi fans have never heard of Elois and Morlocks? What I have no memory of is Wells’ prose style and his narrative talents. As the above quoted passage shows he was an eloquent writer with a rare ability to make scientific expositions sound elegant.
Wells was also an amazing story teller, the story may seem like old hat now but if you imagine that you have never heard of this story and never read anything like it before it is quite an astounding and riveting story. Consider the world building of his Dystopian far future with the two sub species of the human race. It is a beautiful piece of social satire and a thought provoking metaphor for social classes which are still prevalent today hundreds of years after the publication of this novel. There is not much in the way of characterization but that is perfectly fine for a book this short, besides the Elois are all hippy-ish airheads and the Morlocks are not interested in conversations. The protagonist does not even have a name.
The last couple of chapters may well be the most atmospheric. Wells’ depiction of an even further future beyond the Elois and Morlocks era is a little surreal and quite eerie. Those crab things seem like something out of [a:H.P. Lovecraft|9494|H.P. Lovecraft|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1299165714p2/9494.jpg]. The conclusion of the novel is also nice and mysterious, mystical even. If you think H.G. Wells is old hat but never actually read any of his books I urge you to give him a try. Certainly I intend to reread [b:The War of the Worlds|8909|The War of the Worlds|H.G. Wells|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320391644s/8909.jpg|3194841], [b:The Invisible Man|17184|The Invisible Man|H.G. Wells|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388639080s/17184.jpg|1326579] etc. before too long. Yes, they are all old hats but they are great
hats! Classic headwears never go out of fashion.
Finally I would like to bookend this review with another favorite passage:
“You know of course that a mathematical line, a line of thickness nil, has no real existence. Neither has a mathematical plane. These things are mere abstractions. Nor, having only length, breadth, and thickness, can a cube have a real existence. So most people think. But wait a moment. Can an instantaneous cube exist?
Can a cube that does not last for any time at all, have a real existence?
I have no idea but it sounds great!
Note: I read the free Librivox audiobook version
, read by Mark Nelson, the reading is excellent.