The Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) was expounding a recondite matter to us.
***Read as part of the Through the Wardrobe Debut Novels Challenge***
Part of the appeal of doing my debut novel challenge is that it forces me to read books and styles of books I wouldn’t normally pick when left to my own devices. Science fiction is definitely one of those genres I avoid like the plague – it’s just not my cup of tea. With HG Wells heralded as one of the fathers of science fiction, it’s fair to say I wasn’t 100% excited to start The Time Machine for as I avoid sci-fi generally, would I ever be able to enjoy a tale written by the man who started it all?!
The Time Machine is an intricate but reasonably fast read that uses the 19th century narrative tradition of a tale within a tale. An anonymous narrator is invited to the home of the Time Traveller who, having returned from a journey into the future, recounts his tale to an astounded and captivated dinner-party audience. He tells a story of the year 802,701 where Morlocks and Elois rule over the light and dark and a stark environment is all that’s left of Earth itself.
As a novel The Time Machine has aged exceptionally well and has, forgive the pun, a timeless quality that eases the sophisticated concept of time travel gently into a Victorian narrative. I enjoyed Wells’ simplistic imagined future, it was easy to picture and accept (opposing a fear I have of the overly complicated realities I envision in sci-fi!) and having the Time Traveller rationalise how the social and natural equilibrium has come into being was both interesting and refreshingly logical.
It is a very accomplished debut and Wells has an imaginative yet simple narrative style, which introduces the concept of time travel and science fiction perfectly. It is accessible, which surprised me, and strikes the right balance between telling and showing a vision and version of the future on the page. Wells’ tale accomplishes a subtle narrative hand-holding which was very much appreciated by a sci-fi novice like me although, that being said, I still can’t be sure I am a convert to the genre. The best I can offer is that is has made me more willing to dip my toe in the water!