1957 cover art, courtesy of monikalel42 on flickr
H.G. Wells 1895
Thanks Wishbone for exposing a young mind to another great story, this, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.
This book harbors more than just the era-typical beginnings of sci-fi and drawing-room stories, topics of communism, social stratification and Darwin-ism murmur in its pages. Furthermore, the cover portrays the most striking part of the book, the end where The Time Traveller witnesses the eclipsing of a very red, cold sun. The rest of the tale revolves around H.G. Wells’ speculations on the direction humanity was headed, namely towards a complete stratification into two separate species in 800,000 years. The “Haves” or Eloi live in beautiful comfort but also ignorance, the “Have-nots” or Morlocks live below ground in darkness and savagery. The future the inventor emerged into is humanity in decay.
His book is interesting and imaginative, although at times he speaks like the fluttering of a moth, the character tiring and resolving and worrying constantly. I liked very much his imagined mechanics of time travel, with days blurring in and out to grey. The Epilogue holds a gem not really explored in the book but great at an ending thought as a friend of the traveler reflects on what he has witnessed and his lost friend: “And I have by me, for my comfort, two strange white flowers–shrivelled now, and brown and flat and brittle–to witness that even when mind and strength had gone, gratitude and a mutual tenderness still lived on in the heart of man.”
And being a Doctor Who fan, I found this intriguing: “The Time Machine book appears in Doctor Who when the Doctor is reading the novel in the 1996 TV Movie. H.G. Wells’ story is the inspiration for many modern time travel science fiction, including Doctor Who.” ~ Monikalel42‘s flickr page
More on Richard Powers’ sci-fi cover art, or this fun selection of his images
by Alduous Huxley
A vision of our future world from Huxley’s view in the 1930’s when the helicopter was a striking new invention and Ford was changing the world with his mass production lines. After a big disaster the world has been condensed and formed into nine World States, each with a supreme leader. People are no longer born but are grown in conveyor-belt style, and specially engineered to fill their regimented social roles.
The reader follows some characters on the top of the scale, the Alphas, Bernard and Hutch. One struggles to fit into his social role and the other fits easily but longs for forbidden poetry. They both push the limits of their society and get entangled with a savage from one of the wild tribes left in southwestern America. Their struggles carry them to the top of society and end in disappointing, exhilarating, and utterly devastating ways.
Good book to read, just to be aware of it, and for it’s good points about society and good descriptive scenes. Some things are ludicrous, like the fact that this world structure would work, and the parts where John the Savage can argue eloquently and fully understand the depths of Shakespeare from seeing the book some while he was a child.
This book was among the ranks of Wuthering Heights, Frankenstein, Hamlet, Macbeth, and Gulliver’s Travels that we covered in AP English my senior year. Personally, I wanted to cover more books. What about Slaughterhouse Five? Middlemarch? In Cold Blood? Grapes of Wrath? Invisible Man? Catch-22? The Things They Carried? Of Mice and Men? Heart of Darkness? David Copperfield? Come on, let’s read people!
I did enjoy Wuthering Heights and Hamlet, but I think Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland would be a better substitute for Gulliver’s Travels. I’ve heard Brave New World and 1984 compared a lot, as Orual said in a conversation about AP books on College Confidential: “I recommend Brave New World over 1984, but it depends on whether you’d prefer to read about how things we like destroy us or about how things we hate destroy us.”
Oh, I love this book, I was cracking up with every new page! The sarcastic tone is so awesome, even if the subject matter is irrevocably silly and plot jumps outnumber characters. Even better is the audio version (for this was first meant to be a radio broadcast). I feel a compulsion to read the 4 sequels. It turns out that there were supposed to be 6 books, but Adams died in 2001 at age 46 and never got to write it. His widow sanctioned a project that will pick up the story again, and she requested Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer to write the next books.
“Eoin Colfer to write sixth Hitchhiker’s Guide book
Comic fantasy children’s author describes being given the opportunity to continue Douglas Adams’s legendary series as ‘like suddenly being offered the superpower of your choice'”
~ guardian.co.uk, September 17, 2008 <http://www.guardian.co.uk/books /2008/sep/17/douglasadams>
I love Eoin Colfer and am excited that he will continue the quirky journey. I have no more to say but: So long, and thanks for all the fish!