Friday, June 3, 2011

Belatedly Catching The Time Machine

I don't know how the first thirty years of my life passed without me reading H.G. Wells' The Time Machine. As a fantasy fan, as a public school student, as an English major, somehow this book slipped through the cracks until I received a free copy with an ARC of Felix J Palma's The Map of Time.

While I read this book, I unexpectedly had the scholar on my shoulder, where she hasn't perched in almost a decade. I found myself noting themes, passages that would work well for essays, and analyzing the prose.
I spent a lot of time musing over the contrast between the known world of the late nineteenth century and now and what I believe Wells got "right" and what seemed like a fallacy of his era's interpretation on life, culture, society, and science. For all that the world has advanced in the last 100 or so years, I forget how little grand-scale discoveries have been made in regards to our planet's predicted evolution.

On my other shoulder perched the feminist, who often rides along with me, noting things that make her happy or irritated: She she spent a lot of time ranting during the reading of The Time Machine. Women were represented in the future by one single character, Weena, who falls immediately in love with the time traveler when he saves her life, mindlessly follows him thereon into peril, and happily filling his bed for a few days before she's injured and lost by the time traveler in the middle of a raging forest fire.

Wells' irritated and amused me with this story, and I wish now I had noted where so I could quote passages as examples. But of all my questions that I might ask the author if I could talk to him about his novel, it would be this: Why is the title The Time Machine and not The Time Traveler? This book is so much more about the time traveler than it is about the machine. The machine made the story possible, but it was only a means of transportation, not the bulk of the story. Wells even opens the novel with "The time traveler..."

But whether the scholar was intrigued, the feminist irritated, or the fantasy reader in me amused, I'm can now finally say I've read The Time Machine.

1 comment:

Marc Johnson said...

The Time Machine was awesome! And so was the first movie. When I first read Time Machine, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and other classic works I'm forgetting, I was shocked by how short a lot of the classics were. They still made for great reads. Of course, I never could finish Moby Dick or Treasure Island.