Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Time Machine (Classic SF Novella)

It is a law of nature that we overlook, that intellectual versatility is the compensation for change, danger, and trouble.
Time Travel. The Fate of Mankind. The Fate of the Earth. Prophesy. 

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells was published in1895. This novella is the ancestor of so much of the science fiction that we read today. —Would Connie Willis have written Blackout and All Clear if there had been no The Time Machine? Would Walter M. Miller have written A Canticle for Leibowitz? — While the novella introduces time travel, most of the story is devoted to describing a haunting dystopia. H. G. Wells challenged the people of his generation to think in a new way. The story might have even more relevance to those of us in the current era.

Briefly, a Victorian Era inventor creates a time machine in which he travels to the year 802,701. There he discovers that humanity has evolved into two separate species, neither of which is particularly intelligent. One is the frail but beautiful Eloi. The other is the unattractive, underground living Morlocks. When the time traveler’s time machine is stolen, he must find it or be stranded forever. Along the way, he becomes friends with Weena, an Eloi. He also uncovers the true relationship of the Eloi to the Morlocks.

This is the type of story that is hard to forget. The time traveler raises questions of why the two species evolved. More than a century later, one could argue that our dependence upon technology has the potential to propel us to a fate similar to that of the Eloi or Morlocks.

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