The Time Machine
The Time Machine is the first novel by H.G. Wells, published in book form in 1895. The novel is considered one of the earliest works of science fiction and the progenitor of the "time travel" subgenre. Wells advanced his social and political ideas in this narrative of a nameless Time Traveler who is hurtled into the year 802,701 by his elaborate ivory, crystal, and brass contraption. The world he finds is peopled by two races: the decadent Eloi, fluttery and useless, are dependent for food, clothing, and shelter on the simian subterranean Morlocks, who prey on them. The two races--whose names are borrowed from the Biblical Eli and Moloch--symbolize Wells's vision of the eventual result of unchecked capitalism: a neurasthenic upper class that would eventually be devoured by a proletariat driven to the depths. The Time Machine was the novel that launched H. G. Well's career in literature; and, after just over a century, there still isn't anything nearly like it. 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.
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