The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells

The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells
Narrated by Greg Wagland

This review contains spoilers

Using a time machine of his own making, a man travels to the year 802,701 to discover a world where humans have diverged into two separate species. The first species he meets are the Eloi. They are an indulgent people living in what the time traveler calls a communist society. It appears to be a utopian society in which everyone shares living spaces and food. But our time traveler soon discovers that this society isn’t as perfect as it seems. The Eloi are an uncaring race. When one of their own is drowning, they glance uncaringly in her direction and then move on with their own entertainments as if such an event were normal and uninteresting. There is a complete decline of intellect. 

Soon enough, our time traveler meets a second brutish and cunning race that live underground. They are called the Morlocks. (How he discovers this is unclear, since the Morlocks don’t talk to him and the Eloi refuse to talk about them as if it is extremely rude even to bring them up.) He has very little contact with them, but he believes that the Morlocks eat the Eloi. 

At a loss for what exactly H. G. Wells was getting at when he wrote this book, I read a couple of critical essays. Critics say that H. G Wells 1) was suggesting that there would be an inevitable decline in intellect of the human race, 2) was parodying the indulgent and uncaring aristocracy and the brutishness of the working class – a common parody of his time, and 3) was parodying communism despite the fact that he, himself, was a socialist. My father suggested that H. G. Wells had the Nazis (Morlocks) and the Jews (Eloi) in mind when he wrote The Time Traveler – though I find it hard to believe that the Wells believed that the Jews were a self-indulgent and unintellectual race. 

What I noticed about both The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds is that both mentioned a subclass of humans who, in the future, would prey upon other humans. (In War of the Worlds it was suggested that humans might, in the future, be used as slaves to hunt humans so the alien race could eat them.) Thus I am inclined to believe that H. G. Wells is suggesting that some humans have a brutish quality in which they inevitably take advantage of and prey upon an untintellectual and uncaring group of people. 

I am also interested in this communist aspect. What was he saying? If you have any ideas, please let me know. I am curious what other people think of this story. 

The Many-Colored Land, by Julian May

The Many-Colored Land, by Julian May

Genre: Science Fiction / Fantasy Mesh (Adult)

Reason for reading: I read this book a long time ago and always intended on picking up the rest of the series. This year, I convinced my real-life book club to read it. So hopefully I’ll get to the rest of the series soon!

Synopsis: In the near future, an alien federation called the Galactic Milieu has intervened on Earth, and welcomed humans into the its fold. For most of humanity, the Milieu is a blessing. Long life, health, an ethical law system, the adventure of space travel – these are the perks that humans enjoy. But some feel confined by the rules of the Milieu and yearn for a simpler life. And some are too sociopathic to be accepted in the Milieu’s society. These people can go into Exile – they are sent back in time to the Earth’s Pliocene epoch. The Many-Colored Land follows the story of one group of exiles as they discover what lies on the other end of the time-portal. Life isn’t as simple as they expect, and they are soon swept up in a world of war and conspiracy. 

My thoughts: I must have read a lot more hard-core science fiction when I was a teenager, because I don’t remember this book being as heavy as it felt this time around. All the descriptions of futuristic technologies / cultures slowed me down because I don’t read enough science fiction to be used to the terminology. It may have been slow reading for me, but I felt refreshed by the newness of the plot. This is a very complex book, with many layers of hidden foundation. Superficially, I think the characters could have used a little more development – but I’m sure they grow throughout the series. This first book in the Pliocene quartet was mainly world-building. We were introduced to the alien cultures – both the good and the bad aspects. We got a hefty background on the Pliocene epoch. And we got some hints of how these events in the Pliocene might have impacted humanity’s development millions of years later. It’s a fascinating set-up, and I’m eager to see how the rest of the series plays out. I’ve heard so many good things about it.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs

2012 Book 163: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs

Reason for Reading: I was originally going to give it to my dad for Christmas, but it wasn’t as amazing as I thought it would be


Jacob has grown up believing that his grandfather’s tales of adventure and magical children were a fantasy. However, when Jacob’s life is suddenly turned upside down, he must go on a quest to a tiny island off Wales to see the orphanage his grandfather grew up in. There, he discovers that there was some element of truth in his grandfather’s stories…and he finds out that his life is in danger. This book was a fantastic idea. Riggs used some unique vintage photographs that he’d borrowed from a few collectors and built a story around the weird images. The photos were fascinating…I really loved looking at them. And I was excited to see what sort of story was built around them. However, the story was a bit contrived. I suppose that it would have to be, given that it’s built around some randomly rescued photos…So Riggs deserves some credit for a good eye and a creative idea. His writing was a bit lack-luster…as I said, it was a bit contrived, and it leaned too heavily on formulaic fantasy. Shades of X-men, Groundhog Day, etc. abound. Nothing wrong with using old formulas, of course – no concept is every fully new – but overall the writing just didn’t hold its own. I might or might not pick up the next book in the series…we’ll see. 🙂 I’ll probably read it eventually because I imagine Riggs’ writing might improve on the second book, and it will seem less contrived if it’s based on plot development instead of photographs. 🙂

Lost in a Good Book, by Jasper Fforde

2012 Book 33: Lost in a Good Book, by Jasper Fforde (2/19/2012)

Reason for Reading: Fforde February

My Review: 4/5 stars
This is the second book in the Thursday Next series, and is every bit as good as the first. In Lost in a Good Book, Thursday Next must save the world while trying to rescue her eradicated husband Landen. Fforde’s writing is humorous, making for a quick, light read. Several reviewers said this book is darker than the first, which I suppose it is, though it never would have occurred to me. It has very little violence and given the nature of Fforde’s universe everything is reversible, so what does it matter if the attacks on Thursday are a little more personal in this book? I plan on reading the rest of the series, but I think I’ll take a break and clean the puns out of my brain before I start another one. Fforde’s humor is great, but I just can’t read punny humor continuously. 🙂

Physics of the Impossible, by Michio Kaku

2012 Book 27: Physics of the Impossible, by Michio Kaku (2/12/2012)

Reason for Reading: Because it was there

My Review: 3.5/5 stars
Physics of the impossible explores common themes in science fiction, and explains in simplified physics whether such things are possible soon, or far in the future. Kaku has an engaging writing style, and his physics is basic enough that most popular readers would be able to follow. However, I don’t think people who follow physics regularly would enjoy the simplified science. I enjoyed this book, though I have one major complaint: Kaku would give examples of science fiction phenomena from popular novels. Apparently assuming that everyone has read all of these books, he almost always tells the ending of the book. I hadn’t read several of these books and was quite annoyed since telling the end of the book did not add any merit to his own arguments. The book lost star-points because of this problem.

The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde

2012 Book 26:The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde (2/12/2012)

Reason for Reading: 12 in 12 Fforde February

My Review: 5/5 stars
SpecOps officer Thursday Next is swept away into a dangerous mystery when Jane Eyre is kidnapped. She has to literally jump into the story in order to rescue Miss Eyre. This book has hilarious British humor and word play. Its alternative universe setting is creative and fun. And I love books with so many references to literature. This book is awesome, and I can’t wait to start the second in the series. I hear they only get better.