Monday, June 28, 2010

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

Thomas Ford Memorial Library is featuring science fiction and fantasy in its summer reading program for grownups this year. We have made lists of classic science fiction, magical realism, science fiction for the reluctant, high fantasy, and science fact behind the fiction to help readers choose titles. From those lists, I chose to read a pioneering title, The Time Machine by H. G. Wells.

Readers get a double treat when reading Wells. Some of his scientific ideas still hold a lot of sway in science fiction genre and media. Moving about in time is utilized by many authors in stories, ranging from the stories of Andre Norton and Robert Silverberg to episodes of Doctor Who and Star Trek. In addition to science ideas, readers get a peak at the past. When Wells wrote science was just emerging from the era of amateur scientists, often gentlemen who belonged to academic societies. The central character in The Time Machine, called simply the Time Traveler, invites prominent Londerers, including doctors and newspaper editors, to witness experiments in a lab of his Victorian home. The time machine itself is built of a mixture common and rare materials, all known in the late nineteenth century. The gentlemen express the idea that the result of science investigation is undoubtedly world improvement. Wells, however, uses his story to question the assumption that a better world will be made and maintained.

I listened to The Time Machine read by British actor Simon Prebble, who sounds just like a gentleman scientist who puts his life on the line for science aught to sound. At four hours (one on each of four compact discs), the story may be heard in an afternoon of driving or gardening. I enjoyed the book and may try other Wells stories available as audiobooks as part of my revisiting science fiction this summer.

Hells, H. G. The Time Machine. Standard Publications, 2008. ISBN 9781605978871

4 Compact Discs. Recorded Books, 1996. ISBN 9781402549776.

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