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The Time Ships
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Book Club Discussions > The Time Ships: August 2016

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Landis (Sokolik) | 38 comments In August, probably I can keep-up with the club, and read "The Time Ships". I am fascinated by the "Lorien" series. It would be difficult to tear myself away. But, fortunately, I'm about to complete the first e-book installment (first three books). So, it's a good time to slide-on-over to another title like "The Time Ships".


message 2: by Sam (new) - added it

Sam Lucero | 5 comments I'm new to the group. But I will get the book asap to read as well.


Landis (Sokolik) | 38 comments Welcome, Sam!


message 4: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Duerden | 58 comments It's a couple of years since I read Time Ships. In fact it was my first Stephen Baxter novel and the only one I've read that isn't a trilogy. It's also my favourite of his tomes.

His description of Richmond in the opening pages is evocative of Well's description of the Victorian villages along the Thames in War of the Worlds and I remember being immediately convinced it was written in a similar pre Edwardian style.

But it was in the nature of the Time Traveller I was most convinced. His brutal treatment of Nebogipfel reflected the callous treatment of the Morloks in the original book. As in The First Men in the Moon where Bedford takes almost an enjoyment in crushing the Selenites so the original Time Travellers has no hesitation to use his iron rod on the subterraneans. However, in the latter, there is no Cavor to show up the repulsion of this and it's left to the reader to be slightly uncomfortable. (I think this was Wells' dislike of the Empire and its disregard of other cultures. His characters rarely reflect his own social aspirations. In fact in The Invisible Man and Days of the Comet the main protagonists are most unpleasant.)

So I feel that Baxter was rightly given the authorisation of a centenary sequel, though of course, in the light of new scientific discoveries and Baxter's impressive knowledge of physics it becomes quite epic.

Wells would have enjoyed it I think. After all he's still running ahead of us, just over that next hill and we are still trying to catch up with him. God speed H.G.


message 5: by Jaime (new)

Jaime Batista | 44 comments Being a fan of the Time Machine since childhood, I made it a point to read every sequel I could get my hands on. I have read Time Ships at least twice. In my VERY humble opinion I felt that H.G. would NOT have carried the story forward in the same manner that Mr. Baxter did. The fact that the Time Traveler returned to the very place and time that he intended to (in the original) conflicts with the whole story line that Mr. Baxter presented. That being the fact that the Traveler was unable to return to his "starting point."
I do realize that I am probably in the minority and a bit biased, but I feel there are much better follow ups to the original.
I look forward to this discussion about this continuation of the "Time Machine."


message 6: by Glynn (last edited Jul 28, 2016 07:32PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Glynn | 276 comments This sounded pretty interesting so I will try to read it with the group. I've only read one other thing by Stephen Baxter and that was a collaboration with Terry Pratchet called The Long Earth. I didn't like that one very much so it will be fun to see if I like this one by Baxter alone.


message 7: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Duerden | 58 comments I believe Christopher Priest was also on the short list for an authorised sequel. Like Baxter he has also been Vice President of the H.G.Wells Society. The fact that his Space Machine is already a sequel to Time Machine and War of the Worlds probably ruled him out on this occasion. Both writers capture that very elusive Victorian/Edwardian style of writing. (Recently I lost total confidence in a Poul Anderson story set in 1950s England when one of the characters uses the word 'gotten'.)

Of the two I personally like Priests Space Machine more but this is probably due to his knowledge of Wells' Thames basin, Richmond and Woking, than the narrative.


message 8: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Duerden | 58 comments Though there has been a lot of objections to a sequel (not least Wells' himself after La Belle Valence was published in 1923) it could be said that The Time Machine is itself a sequel to the The Chronic Argonauts. And chapter 11 of Time Machine, which was deleted from the American publication and never reinstated on reprints, explains what Wells' intended to be the final outcome of mankind.

The chapter printed separately now as The Grey Man has the traveler visiting a much later date when both the Eloi buildings and Morlock tunnels have been washed away by continual rain and on the bleak moorland a marsupial burrows in the soil. On close inspection he is disturbed to find it has five fingers, cranial development and forward facing eyes. Devolution has caused a convergence of the Eloi and Morlocks, a creature of the surface borrowing into the soil.

Wells' himself deleted this chapter against the wishes of his editor. Maybe this final stage of man was just too unacceptable to the Victorian, and by then the Edwardian, readers.

Though Baxter uses quite a lot of references to other Wells' novels in Time Ships he avoids this deleted conclusion.


message 9: by Tej (new)

Tej (theycallmemrglass) | 1728 comments Mod
Fascinating info, Ian


Glynn | 276 comments Enjoying this book. The author really is in touch with the "language" of the original Time Machine.


message 11: by Tej (last edited Aug 05, 2016 04:39AM) (new)

Tej (theycallmemrglass) | 1728 comments Mod
Following up on Ian's fascinating pointer on a deleted chapter of the original The Time Machine, I seeke the chapter online.

Its a wonderful chapter, in fact, satisfingly enough of being a splendid short story in its own right, as its a complete adventure, with lots of time travel and a lovely acknowledgement to paradoxical time travel.

http://www.pjfarmer.com/secret/fanfic...

EDIT: DOH....its FAN FIC, lol


message 12: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Duerden | 58 comments Hi Tej... Here's H.G.s chapter 11.

https://en.m.wikisource.org/wiki/The_...

I gather that Wells' didn't like the chapter and took the opportunity to delete it when his editor no longer had influence over him for the Atlantic edition.

You and Glynn have persuaded me to re-read Time Ships again. The strongest memory I have of the book is the description of the long journey into deep history... It made the short hop to 802,701 seem like a breeze, and really made me think about the immense time scales.


message 13: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Duerden | 58 comments Hi Tej...

Really recommend The Time Machine. Non of the films have done it justice.

The chapter you gave a link to is fun but clearly not H. G. Wells' style. Wells' has a beautiful and distinctive narrative style.

The authentic missing chapter may seem quite short but in relation to the original book it fits in perfect with Wells' (1890s) pessimistic view of the future of man.


message 14: by Tej (last edited Aug 05, 2016 04:48AM) (new)

Tej (theycallmemrglass) | 1728 comments Mod
Ian wrote: "Hi Tej... Here's H.G.s chapter 11.

https://en.m.wikisource.org/wiki/The_...

I gather that Wells' didn't like the chapter and took the opportunity to delete it when his editor no longer had i..."


Thanks Ian....what I posted was a bloody fanfic, lol.


When editors or authors cut their own chapters out, it may not necessarily be due to not liking their piece but really to do with keeping the reader focussed on the main path of the novel and retaining a narrative flow, maybe that could have been a reason.

Btw....I have not read The Time Machine, lol. Sorry if I came across that way. I'm not even reading Time Ship with the group....so basically, I'm gate crashing here! Although, I enjoy the film adaptations to an extent, I actually dont really enjoy the second half of the story that's spent with the Morlocks and Eloi...but I do still regret not reading the original book.


in any of the adaptations and so because of that, I never felt compelled to read the book.


message 15: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Duerden | 58 comments Wells' in the Time Machine reminds us at several places that the machine has travelled through time but not space. On his first evening in futurity the traveller sits on a bench and views the broad river of the Thames valley. ' The Palace of Green Porcelain is in the direction of Banstead. He wishes to remind his audience that their world is transient. (In the same way he detailed the destruction of London from Woking to Primrose Hill in War of the Worlds.)

So Baxter quickly reminds the readers of his sequel that his house once stood on Petersham road and in the future the hillside behind him was Richmond Hill. I think in this way he established his link to the original book before plunging into the quite different world of the neo Morlocks.

(I also like how he finds a reason for how the dials of the machine record time when the machine itself must be outside of time.)


message 16: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Duerden | 58 comments The key to Baxter's success is his understanding of the Time Traveller. At its initial publication many readers accepted the protagonists viewpoint of 802,701, even though Wells had established the faults of the narrator quite early.

There is nothing evil about the Morlocks; their sub terrain existence and food source are an evolutionary outcome. The Eloi have had the need for survival bred out of them. A natural philosopher, as the Traveller proposes to be, would have accepted this in the same light as a female praying mantis devouring her mate, or a spider cocooning its food... nature evolving. Yet the Traveller takes his colonial prejudices into the future, viewing the Morlocks as cannibals, revolted by their appearance in relation to the the frail but beautiful Elio, and seeing no value in the fact the Morlocks, who he admits had dissembled, oiled, and put together his time machine, have retained intelligence.

Wells understood this but allowed his protagonist to have a biassed view.

The Traveller dispenses cruelty on the Morlocks, arrogance on the Eloi. He takes Weena into harms way and foolishly burns, destroys, a woodland. He has achieved nothing but disorder in his trip into furturity.

And yet in so many sequels we see the writers send a cheerful adventurer, the Traveller, devoid of the faults and prejudices of empire he shows in the original book, off into another romp in time. Wells' thinly disguised socialistic concepts and concerns about the established view are at best ignored.

Not so Baxter. In the first chapters he shows the arrogance of this 'scientist'. "... I flatter myself to think it took my own... analysis... where a lesser man..." And his letters about calendars to The Times "needless to say disregarded... which I chose to ignore..."

Baxter is aware of the socialist arguments, probably now dated, that are the foundation of Wells' future but let's his imagination, and a century of scientific discoveries, take him on an epic voyage but a journey once again narrated by the Traveller with all his assumptions and prejudices.

These are my arguments why I think this is a thoughtful and intelligent sequel.


message 17: by Mark (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mark Speed (markspeed) | 131 comments I finished reading this yesterday. I'm sorry to say that I just felt relieved to have got through it.

I'm a big fan of this era of sci-fi, but I felt this was 'over-baked'. There were too many 'Great Scott' exclamations at one stage, and 'Now look here' was used incorrectly at one point. However, it did capture that late Victorian atmosphere of what one might term Great Exploration. But the author did force the point too much of using historical figures like Barnes Wallis and Guy Gibson.

One of H.G. Wells' characteristics as a writer was that he would have a really big, unique idea and then write something of novella size. This novel felt simply too big and over-done.


message 18: by Jaime (new)

Jaime Batista | 44 comments Mark wrote: "I finished reading this yesterday. I'm sorry to say that I just felt relieved to have got through it.

I'm a big fan of this era of sci-fi, but I felt this was 'over-baked'. There were too many 'Gr..."

Hello Mark--Your views and mine run parallel. I read the book twice and it just didn't strike me as a appropriate sequel to the Time Machine. As a stand alone story it would have been ok (just ok) but it falls short of full filling the unanswered questions posed by the original story. Right off the bat the story went off track. Mr. Baxter's plot focused on the Traveler's inability to return to his own place and time. However, in the original, he did in fact return to his own place and only a few minutes late for his dinner. The whole Dyson sphere thing also threw me. I know I am out numbered but (being in the Marines) that doesn't bother me. I don't feel that H.G. would enjoy the story nor would he have taken it in the direction that Timeships went to. To me there are MUCH better sequels. I would mention the title of mine but this post would then probably be deleted. But it was once nominated for a book of the month...


message 19: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Duerden | 58 comments I know where you are coming from, Mark, but I guess I didn't expect Baxter to contain that broad imagination to a more concise narrative. He likes epic. However, there were a few lines where I thought he caught the poetic prose of Wells.

Example... "I had seen the hand of man at work - ape-descended fingers, reaching across centuries with the grasp of gods." Vey Wellsian.

As always with Baxter he likes tomes (doubt if he's ever written a novella). I was rather thankful he didn't follow his usual trend... the trilogy.


message 20: by Mark (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mark Speed (markspeed) | 131 comments Ian wrote: "I know where you are coming from, Mark, but I guess I didn't expect Baxter to contain that broad imagination to a more concise narrative. He likes epic. However, there were a few lines where I thou..."

Yes, there were definitely more than a few poetic flashes of Wellsian prose (if that's not a contradiction). Scant compensation for having to wade through pages of waffle, though.

Was it just me, or did anyone else get irritated at the occasional inaccuracy or oversight? For example (view spoiler). The fact that my mind calculated that whilst reading is a measure of how disengaged I was.


Glynn | 276 comments I am nearly finished with this book. It is a fun read. I really enjoyed book 4: The Palaeocene Sea. Here are some pictures of some of the flora and fauna depicted in that chapter:



Diatryma Giganticus



Pristichampus



Dipterocarps


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