Denver Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club

Time Machine 2002 movie cover The Time Machine (1895)
A classic science fiction novel

Ace 2002 movie edition cover
138 pages (left)

Ace books paperback 1990s
141 pages (right)
Time Machine 1990s book cover

From the back cover of the Fawcett paperback (not shown):
In the heart of Victorian England, an inquisitive gentleman known only as the Time Traveler constructs an elaborate invention that hurtles him hundreds of thousands of years into the future.  There he finds himself in the violent center of the ultimate conflict between beings of light and creatures of darkness.

From the back cover of the Ace paperback:
H.G. Wells' The Time Machine is universally regarded as a prototype of all science fiction stories.  No one single story has ever captured the imagination of millions as has The Time Machine. Imitated countless times, its popularity has never diminished from the first day of its publication.

From the back cover of several editions:
The Time Traveler travels backwards and forwards in time, finally arriving in the world of 802,701 A.D. - a world of total strangeness...

Read for group discussion on April 25, 2001

Time Machine 1960s book cover

More book covers: The Time Machine

Berkley Highland edition (45 cover price)
1960s - 141 pages (left)

1895 1st British edition
published by William Heinemann
152 pages (right)

Time Machine 1st edition cover

How we each rated this book
Dan 8 Amy 7 stack of books 10   Wow! Don't miss it
8-9  Highly recommended
7    Recommended
5-6  Mild recommendation
3-4  Take your chances
1-2  Below average; skip it
0    Get out the flamethrower!
U    Unfinishable or unreadable
-    Skipped or no rating given
Cheri 5 Barb 9
Aaron 9 Cynthia 7
Jackie 8

Aaron's Commentary  H. G. Wells - The Time Machine

With the arguable exception of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, this may be the most influential science fiction novel (or scientific romance, as Wells's SF stories came to be known at the time) ever written.

For one thing, it introduced the concept of a time machine, which has since been borrowed by countless other authors (although someone else surely would have struck upon the idea if Wells had not).

More importantly, Wells's use of science fiction as a medium for social commentary was ground-breaking.  Wells was obviously greatly concerned about class divisions in modern society, and wrote this book as a cautionary tale of where social stratification may lead.  Thankfully, Wells does not make his point simply by demonizing the upper class - if anything, the Eloi are presented with more sympathy than the Morlocks.  This novel is not urging the working class to rise up against its oppressors; it is directed at the upper class, telling the members of the elite that they need to find a way to ensure that the lower class shares in the benefits of the advances they devise.

The writing style in this novel is well ahead of its time, despite occasional lapses into pulpishness.  Aside from the obligatory "this really happened" framework, the story moves quickly and draws the reader in without unnecessary melodrama.  Although characterization was plainly not Wells's focus, he made a good choice in allowing Weena some human traits (although I have to confess I find the relationship between the childlike Weena and the time traveler mildly unsettling).  I find it easy to empathize with the slightly pompous but very earnest time traveler.

What do you think? Your comments are welcome. Please send them to

Time Machine 1960 DVD The Time Machine -- movie (1960)
Galaxy Films / MGM. Starring Rod Taylor, Alan Young, Yvette Mimieux, and Sebastian Cabot. Screenplay by David Duncan. Producer / director George Pal. Running time 103 minutes.
DVD cover (left)

The Time Machine -- movie (2002)
Warner Bros. and DreamWorks. Starring Guy Pearce, Samantha Mumba, Orlando Jones, Mark Addy, and Jeremy Irons. Director Simon Wells.

Our book group has also read the following books by H.G. Wells:
-- The War of the Worlds   in June 2004

H. G. Wells (1866-1946) (Herbert George Wells) was a UK writer, a founder of science fiction. He was a proponent of Darwin's theory of Evolution, and was a social crusader.

Science fiction novels, and scientific romances
The Time Machine: An Invention (1895)
The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896)
The Invisible Man (1897)
The War of the Worlds (1898), Martians invade Earth
When the Sleeper Awakes (1899), features suspended animation
The First Men in the Moon (1901)
The Food of the Gods (1904)
In the Days of the Comet (1906)
The War in the Air (1908)
The World Set Free (1914)
Mr. Britling Sees it Through (1916)
The Shape of Things to Come (1933)

Utopian Novels
A Modern Utopia (1905)
Men Like Gods (1923)

Fantasy novels
The Wonderful Visit (1895)
The Sea Lady (1902)

Realistic Novels - light comedy
The Wheels of Chance (1896)
Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul (1905)
The History of Mr. Polly (1910)
Bealby: A Holiday (1915)

Realistic Novels - more serious works
Love and Mr. Lewisham (1900)
Tono-Bungay (1909)
Ann Veronica (1909)
The New Machiavelli (1910)
The Dream (1924)
The World of William Clissold (3 volumes, 1926)

Other books
God the Invisible King (1917)
The Soul of a Bishop (1917)
The Undying Fire (1919)
Christina Alberta's Father (1925)
Mr. Blettsworthy on Rampole Island (1928)
The Autocracy of Mr. Parham (1930)
The Bulpington of Blup (1932)
Star Begotten: A Biological Fantasia (1937)
The Holy Terror (1939)
All Aboard for Ararat (1940)

Our book club's page for The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
H. G. Wells - Wikipedia
The Time Machine Teacher's Resource
The DVD Journal The Time Machine (1960)
Literature Network: The Time Machine by HG Wells: online book
Herbert George Wells (1866-1946) - biography and works

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This page was last updated October 18, 2008