Summer Reading book #4: “The Time Machine”

The Time Machine Cover

“It is a law of nature we overlook, that intellectual versatility is the compensation for change, danger, and trouble…Nature never appeals to intelligence until habit and instinct are useless. There is no intelligence where there is no change and no need of change. Only those animals partake of intelligence that have a huge variety of needs and dangers.”

For my fourth Summer Reading venture, I decided to time-travel with Mr. H. G. Wells in The Time Machine. I picked this book in part because it was a free e-book for Kindle and the accompanying audio book was only $0.99, and in part because I am a bit of a geek about theories of time and space. On at least one point I was disappointed. The audio book that I got for cheap was one of the worst read audio books I’ve encountered, so if you intend to read the book, save your self a buck and just read it, or find a good audio book from the library.

The book itself is just over 100 pages, so it’s a short read, and it moves at a good pace once the necessary explanations at the beginning have taken place. The Time Machine is a frame-narrative, or a story within a story, and for that reason, there is a great deal of description that goes on. The story is first told from the point of view of someone listening to the Time-Traveler’s tale. The Time-Traveler, to whom we are never introduced by name, is a scientist who has discovered a way to move forward in time. In his travels he encounters humanity in a way he has not expected…

Personally, I enjoyed the book and the ideas the story plays with. As you can see from my chosen quote, the idea of what becomes of intelligence in the absence of need is alluded in an intriguing way. Wells also plays with notions of social equality, and his protagonist plays the part of an amateur anthropologist as he traverses through the future speculating about what decisions and actions could lead to the future he has found. Another interesting idea that is always present in time-travel stories is the question of how knowing the future would affect a present-dweller. We get a little of this with our favorite popular time-travelers in show like Doctor Who, where time-travel is no longer a novelty but a fact of reality. But in Wells’ The Time Machine the practice is completely new, and the Time Traveler, far from being a knowledgeable and aged Time Lord, is a middle aged man who has no idea what he is getting himself into, and who has all the wide-eyed wonder and curiosity that ancient explorers must have had when they came to new continents. He is the sole explorer on an expedition into an unknown realm greater than any yet discovered.

Have any of you read The Time Machine? If so, what are your thoughts? If not, would you be interested? What other time-travel themed books are out there? Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions on time-travel themed books, or any other fun titles.

Happy Reading! Yours Truly,

Regina, the Pensive Ponderer.


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