Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Reflections: The Time Machine

Sarah J. Zern shares her thoughts on H.G. Wells' The Time Machine:

"I grew up in a home where old movies were venerated.  It had to be a timeless classic if it were in black and white, and if it included spontaneous singing and dancing, it was most likely one of the greatest movies of all time.  One of these little gems that my father insisted on showing us kids was the 1960’s classic The Time Machine, starring Rod Taylor.  Any time that Dad saw from the TV guide that it would be coming on, the TV was off-limits to any other program during its air-time.  Needless to say, I have some very strong, and very fond, memories of watching the “Time Traveler” (as he is referred to in the book) zoom into the future of the Morlocks and the Eloi.

The only background I had on H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine was the aforementioned 1960s film, although I do have some VERY vague memories of a recent cinematic remake that was obviously ultimately forgettable.  Although a work of fiction, this book feels very much like a commentary on society as it is and as it should be, with a few interesting characters inserted along the way.  Not that the characters themselves are very distinct—the main character is never actually given a name other than the time traveler, and his female counterpart is a woman of the future that he calls Weena, but who never actually speaks at all.  Given the fact the characters in this book are so undeveloped, it lends reason to the idea that Wells’ intended purpose for this story was to offer up his own thoughts on society and its predestined future.  So, if you are interested in reading a book that has wonderfully developed characters and plot, this one is a skipper.

Although I am generally very attracted to literature that has great plot development and is character driven, I very much enjoyed reading The Time Machine.  You can see the Socialistic and Communistic themes very clearly in this book, but I don’t see it as a book that ultimately championed either philosophy.  The time traveler thinks that humankind has reached its pinnacle of existence by achieving a society in which no one must work and everyone is frail and beautiful, but that myth is very quickly debunked by our author, who I am told was in fact quite the Socialist in his day.  I found it very ironic that this futuristic society was so flawed and corrupt, yet so pleasing to the uninformed eye. 

Although there is really no way to spoil the ending of this book because it is told as a flashback from the point of view of our time traveler, I hesitate to spoil any more of the storyline.  It is a very quick read at a brief 120 or so pages, so I recommend this book to anyone with a little time and a little curiosity.  It is definitely worth the read."

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