Friday, 14 September 2012

The Time Machine by HG Wells

One of Wells most famous books, The Time Machine is an account by a scientist known only as the time traveller, who relates to his dinner guests one night the story of his visit to the far flung future.


His guests are waiting for him to join them at the dinner table when he appears at the door in a dreadful state:

He was in an amazing plight. His coat was dusty and dirty, and smeared with green down the sleeves; his hair disordered, and as it seemed to me greyer — either with dust and dirt or because its colour had actually faded. His face was ghastly pale; his chin had a brown cut on it — a cut half healed; his expression was haggard and drawn, as by intense suffering. For a moment he hesitated in the doorway, as if he had been dazzled by the light. Then he came into the room. He walked with just such a limp as I have seen in footsore tramps. We stared at him in silence, expecting him to speak.
He said not a word, but came painfully to the table, and made a motion towards the wine. The Editor filled a glass of champagne, and pushed it towards him. He drained it, and it seemed to do him good: for he looked round the table, and the ghost of his old smile flickered across his face. “What on earth have you been up to, man?” said the Doctor.


Small wonder he’s thirsty. He has just spent over a week in the year 802,701 where the human race has split into two – the innocent, childlike Eloi, and the cave-dwelling, photosensitive Morlocks who prey on them. It has been a trying experience, to say the least:

The Time Traveller pushed his glass towards the Silent Man and rang it with his fingernail; at which the Silent Man, who had been staring at his face, started convulsively, and poured him wine. The rest of the dinner was uncomfortable. For my own part, sudden questions kept on rising to my lips, and I dare say it was the same with the others. The Journalist tried to relieve the tension by telling anecdotes of Hettie Potter. The Time Traveller devoted his attention to his dinner, and displayed the appetite of a tramp. The Medical Man smoked a cigarette, and watched the Time Traveller through his eyelashes. The Silent Man seemed even more clumsy than usual, and drank champagne with regularity and determination out of sheer nervousness. At last the Time Traveller pushed his plate away, and looked round us. “I suppose I must apologize,” he said. “I was simply starving. I've had a most amazing time.”

His account is incredible; the future of the human race depicted as degenerate and ultimately doomed. The time traveller finishes his sojourn on a dying planet Earth, where the last living things, now little more than jellyfish, flop about on the blood red shoreline.

The Time Machine’s
influence is undeniable. Time travel in fiction starts here, and with the brassy finish of Victorian engineering on eponymous time machine itself, arguably, so does Steampunk...

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