Fiction – audiobook. Read by Kelsey Grammer. Apple, 2018. Originally published 1985. 4 hours, 7 minutes. Free download.
Identified by the narrator as simply “The Time Traveler”, a Victorian English scientist and gentleman inventor living in Richmond, Surry is invited to a weekly dinner party to share about his latest invention. At this particular dinner party, the narrator recounts the Traveler’s revelation that he has built a machine capable of carrying a person through time. Encouraged by the audience’s response, the Traveler leaves promising to test his machine and share on what he discovers at next week’s dinner party.
At the following party, the Traveler serves as the narrator, recounting how he traveled to A.D. 802,701 and finds the party’s present-day London is now a garden paradise with little trace of the engineering or scientific advancements of the present day. There, he meets the Eloi, a society of elegant, childlike humans who live in large and futuristic yet slowly deteriorating buildings and adhere to a fruit-based diet.
The Traveler is disappointed with the Eloi’s lack of curiosity. Only an Eloi named Weena shows any interest in him or his machine, but even she shares in the Eloi’s seemingly unjustified fear of the dark. Assuming he has met the future of human civilization, the Traveler returns to his time machine only to find it has been taken by some unknown party.
As dark falls, the Traveler is approached by the Morlocks, humans with more of an ape-like appearance who live underground and surface only at night. The Traveler’s observation of the Morlocks leads him to realize that humans have evolved into two species: the leisured classes have become the unimpressive Eloi and the downtrodden working classes have become the brutal Morlocks. His theory – and his relationship with Weena – is put to the test as he attempts to recapture his time machine from the Morlocks and return to his present.
As with Bram Stoker’s Dracula, I have long wanted to read H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine because the work is credited with creating the concept of a time machine as a vehicle and launching an entirely new genre, science fiction. Its short length also made it an appealing selection to listen to on a recent drive from Salt Lake City to southern Utah over Thanksgiving.
The adventurous story certainly kept my attention and, like with Dracula, it was fun to see which aspects I associate with science fiction – fantastical inventions, dystopian outlooks on the future – stemmed from the first work in the genre. The story wrapped up quickly, leaving me wishing that Wells had spent a little more time on the dystopian aspect of his tale rather than letting the Traveler assume some much. But certainly an imaginative story that’s not to be missed!
The Classics Club:
This is my 41st book for the Classics Club, which challenges participants read and discuss fifty or more books considered to be classics within a five year period. My personal goal for this project is to read seventy-five books in three years ending on August 15, 2017. This deadline has since come and past, but I am still trying to work through my list. You can find out more information by checking out my introductory post or project post.