Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Time Machine

The Time Machine is the first book by H.G. Wells that I've finished (I've started The Invisible Man twice now and have yet to complete it).  My interest in reading The Time Machine was piqued when I saw the 2002 movie.  At the time I thought, "This movie is so cheesy!  I bet the book is just as interesting minus the cheese factor."  Unfortunately, having now read the book, I can say I actually prefer the movie.  Maybe if I hadn't seen the movie first, I would've thought the book was brilliant.  However, all I could do was compare the two, and it turns out the book just couldn't hold my interest as well.

This is, of course, a classic, so I'm going to assume most of you understand what the premise is and not go into a long synopsis.  Of course there is a man who builds a machine and travels through time.  Easy enough.  Now, Wells' underlying agenda, as it appeared to me, was to write an allegory of the future, detailing the Haves and Have-Nots, i.e. the Capitalists vs. the Laborers.  The time traveler (who is never given a proper name) gets thousands of years into the future and thinks he's discovered a happy, peaceful communist human existence.  However, he has only seen the Upper-World, and it is only when he is made aware of the Under-World, and the Morlocks, the time traveler realizes that the old aristocracy of the Upper-World have become the lesser beings.  The hard-working Morlocks, who used to be the laborers of society, have continued to evolve and their need (to eat, adapt, etc.) has allowed them to reverse their roles and become the more dominant species.

All of this, I believe, is Wells' way of warning the current generation that the complacency of the Haves, of the aristocracy, is what will eventually lead to our undoing.  It is those who work and persevere who will be the conquerors.

As far as the differences between the book and the movie: there were too many to mention.  While the book obviously made a point of showing us what will be our undoing, the movie was just more entertaining, with more action and more mystery (the only real mystery in the book is what happened to the time traveler at the end).  So, while I appreciate the message Wells was sending, I'd still rather watch the movie.  3 out of 5 stars.


  1. Nice post and review! Sometimes I think it's a shame that we do have movies to compare to the books of the same story. Luckily though, I have a vivid imagination and watch my own movie--in my mind. LOL

  2. I actually haven't seen the movie, so I might try reading the book and see how I like it.