Tuesday, February 26, 2013

2/50: The Time Machine

The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
4/5 stars
This is my 2nd book in Rex & Jake's 50-Book Reading Challenge,
which Rex leads 10-2. Full list can be found here.

Add time travel to anything, and I'm in. I love time travel. It's my favorite plot device. I like the idea of changing the past and anticipating our future as a collective species. I think it reflects poorly on an individual if they would turn down time travel. Anyone who claims to not "have any interest in time travel" is either a liar or an idiot. What the hell is there not to love about time travel? It can take the dumbest story and make it better, or it can take an awesome story and make it more awesome. It's cut and dry, black and white, obvious and obviouser. Time travel is the most major "duh" of all fiction. It rules. And, if it was available in real life, it would be the absolute coolest (until, of course, it was abused and used for evil, in which case, I might have a different opinion).

The ultimate time travel story is the classic 19th Century novella, The Time Machine, starring, no joke, The Time Traveller. I've seen at least two Hollywood adaptions of this book (1960 and 2002), and the latter one didn't even try to stay close to the story. I barely remember the earlier one, aside from it making we super uncomfortable as a kid who was still fearful of creatures that moved at a speed of 4 miles per hour.

Anyway, this story is just the nameless protagonist recounting his adventure 800,000 years in the future to his colleagues, including the narrator, who does a lazy job of just sitting there just listening to his friend ramble on like a lunatic (who we all know is telling the truth). Basically, that far in the future, the upper class has devolved into a society of childlike people called the Eloi, who wonder at everything and have the integrity and know-how of, alas, children. Below their seemingly perfect playground of a society lurks the mighty, brutal, and equally stupid morlocks, the other half of mankind's split, possibly the lower class. They're essentially dirty non-white yetis, from what I understand. The Time Traveller develops kinship with Weena, one of the Eloi, and does his best to protect her from the morlocks/centuries of horrifying devolution.

The raddest part of the book is that it reads as if it's all possible. Sure, the 19th Century was far along enough to be all like, "Nah, dude. Shit's impossible." But there, basking in the glow of amazing hope of the 1800s, remained a "what if" quality of adventure tales, and this was right up there with the most righteous. It was a time of "he, anything is possible, because we don't have the science or technology to say otherwise. We just have what we know." And any good writer was putting the lunacy in the soft brains of everyone.

So, once again touching upon just how cool time travel is, I'd like to restate that time travel would seriously be the best thing ever. If I were to die tomorrow, my only two regrets would be not having time traveled and not writing Hotel Christmas, what would surely be an instant holiday classic starring Paul Rudd as "Paul Rudd." But, honestly, if I could time travel, why wouldn't I just go back and take credit for Love Actually? Eat it, Nigel Britishguy!

Alright, I looked it up. His name is actually Richard Curtis, and I'm assuming he's quite charming. Time travel!

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