Lisa Schensted's Reviews > The Time Machine

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
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's review
Sep 27, 2009

Read in September, 2009

in a sentence or so: a time traveller shares his experience, 8 days in the year 802,701, with a intimate group of friends.

the time traveller (hereby t-t) invites a group over to unveil his time-travel theories and his model time machine. they are of course quite skeptical...but intrigued. the t-t invites them back for a second time to a dinner where he is nowhere to be found. he eventually shows up to the dinner looking ragged, limping, starving, and smelling something awful. after he cleans himself up and has a bite to eat, he shares with them his story of eight long, frightening, complicated, and unbelievable days in the year 802,701.

the way this story is told is through an unknown narrator, referring to himself only as "i", retelling the story of the t-t. so we get a couple chapters in the beginning with learning others reactions to the t-t ideas, and then the actual time travel experience is shared in story form by the t-t himself. the story-telling model was interesting, and i liked it effect it had on me as the reader as a more intimate sharing of the tale.

the t-t discovers that there are two vestiges of the human race left. there are the above-dwellers - little delicate, child-like people who eat fruit and pick flowers while wearing beautiful robes. and there are the bottom-dwellers - white, ape-like, creepy-nocturnal-eyed creatures that cannot be in the light and that cause some crazy fear in the above-dwellers. within mere moments of going to the future, the t-t's machine is stolen by the bottom-dwellers. he spends a good deal of his time in the future figuring out how to get back his machine. he keeps his story interesting and fresh by interspersing some foreshadowing of events, by explaining his conclusions and making sure that the listener (or in our case, the reader) connects with the emotions and his thought process. the t-t is trying to help us associate with his emotions and frequently provides a real life scenario to compare his experience to, so we might relate. i think it's pretty clear that the t-t gets the time machine back, although i wont spoil how that happens.

overall, i found the experience of the t-t to be interesting, different, and something i (a very inexperienced time traveller) was able to connect with. the foreignness of his situation was countered by his very relatable feelings of frustration, loss, fear, and will to survive and make it home. and i love, love, loved the ending. the unexpected air of mystery to finish the book, total opposite from the rest of the book which tried so hard to help us imagine what it would be like to be in the t-t's shoes, left the reader battling with ambiguity.

fave quotes: "The fact is, the Time Traveller was one of those men who are too clever to be believed: you never felt that you saw all round him; you always suspected some subtle reserve, some ingenuity in ambush, behind his lucid frankness." (13)
"But the problems of the world had to be mastered. I had not, I said to myself, come to the future to carry on a miniature flirtation." (the t-t, 53)

fix er up: it was really weird not knowing the characters names, only their description as the time traveller or the editor or whatever. but, i might deduce that this was so we, the reader, could insert characters from our own experience into those roles.

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