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The Space Machine: A Scientific Romance

3.40  ·  Rating details ·  466 ratings  ·  54 reviews
In this diverting adventure thriller set in Victorian England, Christopher Priest has written an action-packed tour-de-force that takes H. G. Wells's The War of the Worlds and enlarges it into a whole new dimension.

Edward Turnbull, a young traveling salesman and his attractive ladyfriend, Amelia, are transported to a place of violence and perpetual war—a world they
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Hardcover, 1st American Edition, 363 pages
Published June 1st 1976 by Harper & Row Publishers (first published January 1st 1976)
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Average rating 3.40  · 
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 ·  466 ratings  ·  54 reviews


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Glenn Russell
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


It's war! For starters, martians vs. martians, then there is more, much more. A highly entertaining adventure story; a superbly imaginative tale of science fiction; a creative reworking of two classics: The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds. This Christopher Priest novel is simply too good to be true, a fanciful cross between Anthony Trollope and H.C. Wells, a must read for any lover of Victorian literature or science fiction, a work featuring the following two main characters along with several highligh
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Martha Sockel
Aug 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I picked up this book a couple of months ago ..after hearing about this Scientific Romance written by Christopher Priest, written as a homage to H.G Wells. And by God, this book lived up to my expectations!

An elegant pastiche of The Time Machine and The War Of The Worlds, written in a Victorian hand reminiscent of Wells, the Space Machine starts off as a seemingly innocent Victorian-era romance then, through a quirk of fate, the two main protagonists are accidentally shot off to Mars
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John
Aug 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I read this in the omnibus edition (with the wonderful A Dream of Wessex) that was done by the short-lived imprint Earthlight, 'way back when.

As will be evident to all, I'm a great fan of Priest's work. I read this novel many years ago and, while I enjoyed it on its own terms, felt it to be the weakest of his books. Rereading it recently confirmed both of these senses to me: the fact that his writing has gone from strength to strength in later novels makes The Space Machine seem even flimsier, yet
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James Parsons
I was given this book as a present,and I found that I did like it after all. It was written by a much respected author, but it is a kind of retro homage science fiction tale. Possibly more a vintage sci-fi style than I may usually read, but it was enjoyable.
I do read a wide range of books, and I found that this book started slow and was slightly literary or period drama. This did not grab me but I continued on reading as I hoped to encounter some kind of entertaining SF story.
Eventually,
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Quinn Daley
Jul 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a massive Christopher Priest fan, and also loved the two HG Wells books in whose universe this story is set, so I had pretty high expectations of The Space Machine.

It didn't disappoint. The story is original enough and runs brilliantly parallel to the events of Wells's classics, as well as providing a humorous retrospective on social attitudes of the time.

I don't want to say much more or I'll spoil it. Suffice to say, it fits perfectly - and where it doesn't, Priest h
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Simon Hedge
Nov 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who likes fun!
Some people may tell you that this is an exciting adventure which brilliantly connects H.G. Wells' The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds. Don't believe a word of it! This is actually a devastating study of the effects of a repressively puritanical society on the psyches of its young men and women.
Our protagonist, Trumbull, begins the story as a young man making his way through Victorian gentility. His body is subject to the normal desires of any twenty-three year old man, but Trumbull would never for
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Mark
Mar 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I love Sci-Fi set in Victorian times where you don't have to worry about justifying the science element.
It is the 'true' story behind the 'Time Machine
and War of the Worlds
It is a ponderous book and you will need to be patient.
It does amble and sometimes loses direction but again I think it works. Also if you have read the two books it is based on it is quite gratifying see things slot into place.

Martin Lake
Apr 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you love the finest writing, if you love science fiction, if you love humour, historical fiction and a page turning read, get this.

It is one of the real joys of twentieth century writing.

Priest is a master and this shows his skills in plenty.

I hope that it is soon published on ebook.
Jessica
Dec 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love it. I regonize parts from War of the Worlds and it made it feel like a behind the scenes book. so it made me feel nostaligic and stuff.

Good if you want/need more after reading wars of the worlds.
Ian
Aug 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It gets a bagging from many critics, but I loved the melding of Victorian England and science fiction and time travel.
Philip Higgins
Jan 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not having read any Christopher Priest before, I was a bit wary in case this proved to be "challenging" sci-fi or overly complicated. I was pleasantly relieved to find this was a joy to read. A great Victorian pastiche that provides a parallel story to the War of the Worlds, with a bit of the Time Machine thrown in (and maybe a dash of Bedknobs & Broomsticks). Our stiff upper lip hero and stiff-bodiced heroine are great fun as they embark on their thrilling adventures - a real rippping yarn. ...more
Bill
Jan 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Classic SF geeks.
Shelves: science-fiction
A clever and enjoyable conflation of HG Wells' War of the Worlds and his The Time Machine. At first it read like a Victorian comedy of manners, but as it moved into SF adventure, became a 70's SF action-adventure. I wish Priest has kept up the Victorian sound of the prose. I found no other allegorical elements in the story, as some reviewers have suggested. Priest has expanded the Wellsian universe, but has not improved upon it. Read the originals first.
Adi
Feb 08, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having never heard of Christopher Preist before, and having never read War of the Worlds, I did not have any expectations when I started this book. It didn't take me that long to finish it, and I can genuinely say that overall it was a nice book, with a simple plot and memorable characters. I would have preferred if the book had more dimensions and more twists. Once the main conflict was established, it was pretty obvious how the book will end. And still, I feel as if a lot of questions were not ...more
Cécile C.
Sep 01, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: steampunk
A fun little adventure story, with a tongue-in-cheek look at H.G. Wells and Victorian technology. It really feels like a contemporary pastiche, for fun more than for criticism. There are tripods and time machines, fast-paced adventure and everything. It's probably a little forgettable, but it's fun!
Michael
Jul 06, 2007 rated it liked it
The Time Machine meets The War of the Worlds with lots of great Victorian stuffiness. Mr. Priest is good and this book is fun.
Joy Stephenson
Good in parts. I liked the H.G. Wells setting and atmosphere but the plot flagged at times and the ending was too abrupt.
Eleanor
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paul Knighton
Oct 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a previous fan of Christopher Priest's science fiction I was pleased to discover this. He has cleverly written a fresh plot that weaves into & around the plot of H. G. Well's The War of the Worlds.

Overall I really enjoyed the book: good development of plot and characters and relationships, interesting details about aliens and another world and a different society, and some clever technological innovations. Alas there are some big gaps in explanations about things that seem odd
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Jonathan Norton
A mash-up of "The Time Machine" with "War Of The Worlds", with some invisibility and a visit to another world thrown in, and you could say that the explanation of how the Monster Martians came into existence is an allusion to Doctor Moreau. So it's a marathon of Wellsiana, and the man himself turns up as a character (maybe). This is the most fun I've had reading Priest, probably because he's working from someone else's templates. The central characters aren't Christopher's attempts at drawing Br ...more
Sean
Jul 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An amusing riff on H.G. Wells, taking elements of The Time Machine and the plot of War of the Worlds, and spinning a new tale of a pair of Brits flung to Mars, where they witness the implementation of the Martian attack written of by Wells. Priest does a decent job imitating Wells's writing style, though as with any imitation, it never really measures up to the original. It's also missing Wells's attitudes and commentary on humankind, which is kinda what makes his books so great and long-lived. ...more
Tim
Jun 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
A very entertaining melding of HG Wells' War of theWorlds and The Time Machine. Is this the "true story" of what actually happened? I guess we may never know.

Told in a slightly quirky Victorian style in keeping with its late 19th/early 20th century setting, it does take a little time to get going, but if you're fans of the original works, you'll find this a charming "alternate history".

The audiobook is brilliantly narrated by Barnaby Edwards, well known in Dr Who circles
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R. Andrew Lamonica
Well, now I'm 1 for 2 on Christopher Priest books. I loved The Inverted World and the movie version of The Prestige. So, I (optimistically) assumed all this stories were going to be thought-provoking. Sadly, The Space Machine, just doesn't reach that level. The most interesting part was the subtle gender-roles critique and that was so subtle, that maybe I was reading more into Priest's words than he intended.

Anyway, I'm not giving up. About 60% of Priest's books are award nominees (o
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JohnnyV
Second time I read this book and I enjoyed it as much as the firtst time around. If you only seen the movie "War of the worlds" then this tale gives you a look into the marsian society and how the invasion came to be. The whole first section of the book reads as a kinda prequel then. If you are familiar with both books or movies "The Time Machine" and "War of the Worlds" then the way this story is writen will please you even more. I for one i'm sure I will read it a third time in years to come.. ...more
Mary Appold
What began as a fun homage piece with delightful use of language dwindled into a dull sci-fi adventure. Vivid descriptive writing in the pre-time travel chapters completely engaged me as a reader. Once the lead characters hit the glitch in their time-travel adventure, the story lost the charm. The story seemed to flounder a bit till the war between the alien groups took center stage. The battle scenes bogged down the pace, and my interest in the plight of the lead characters dwindled. Overall, a ...more
Alex Storer
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An ingenious piece of work! Clever and brilliantly written - unlike anything else I have read by Mr Priest. And above all, it's great fun. You could very easily forget you're not actually reading an HG Wells book.
I admit that I did find it a little safe, but a typical Priest twist would have Ben out of place and not very Wells-esque. Despite that, he's got the writing style, period and imagery spot on. One of the best books Wells never wrote.
Leif
Jul 31, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun combination of HG Wells "The Time Machine" and "War of the Worlds"...though it is much more a product of the latter. Seems touched with a bit of naiveté that I can't be sure was intended.

Side-note: The Gollancz edition I read needed a better proofreader. Many missing periods, half-words, and once I saw a "1" used for an "I". This did not impact the story in any meaningful way but it was common enough that I feel like mentioning it.
Belle Wood
It was ok. A straight-forward retelling of both The Time Machine and War of the Worlds by HG Wells, who turns up as a character in the book. It really wasn't great and it seemed very rushed. It was badly edited for a major house like Gollancz, and while I try not to let that colour my view of the book, the fact that it just wasn't that exciting combined with the typographical issues to make it less than enjoyable.
Andy
May 31, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Christopher Priest remains to suprise me with his writing, this is a super retro take on HG wells via a Victorian romance.
Thomas
I was pretty stoked to read this book after having read The Prestige, and as the story began, I found it to be engaging, despite its slow beginning. It reminded me a bit of reading Aickman, in that the book opens with inconsequential scenes that have no real bearing on the plot, other than to lead the reader to it. He captures the characters of Edward and Amelia well, and that was enough to keep me reading through the beginning. Oddly, once the plot began to pick up speed, the story lost its ste ...more
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Mars was invading the earth!
Giant, long-legged machines, operated by gruesome, octopus-like creatures, were moving over the globe, leveling all opposition, laying waste to cities and countryside, on the verge of horrifying triumph.
This was the War of the Worlds as we know it.
Now at last we can learn the story we
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Valancourt Books: The Space Machine (1976) by Christopher Priest 1 12 Mar 12, 2016 11:53AM  

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Christopher Priest was born in Cheshire, England. He began writing soon after leaving school and has been a full-time freelance writer since 1968.

He has published eleven novels, four short story collections and a number of other books, including critical works, biographies, novelizations and children’s non-fiction.

He has written drama for radio (BBC Radio 4) and television
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