- Sophia King
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
When the Time Traveller courageously stepped out of his machine for the first time, he found himself in the year 802,700—and everything had changed. In this unfamiliar, utopian age, creatures seemed to dwell together in perfect harmony. The Time Traveller thought he could study these marvelous beings (the ethereal Eloi and the subterranean Morlocks, who not only symbolize the duality of human nature but also offer a terrifying portrait of the men of tomorrow as well), unearth their secrets and then return to his own time until he discovered that his invention, his only avenue of escape, had been stolen.
Review (SPOILERS AHEAD!):
Absolutely thought-provoking! In Wells’s satire of 19th-century Victorian England, he often returns to the existential theme of the meaning of life. He begins the story with scientific reasoning to support his Time Traveller’s conquest of the mysterious future, thus making Wells the first author to write about traveling through time with genuine thinking. While several modern physicists have agreed that time travel is entirely impossible due to the laws of the universe, I still found it intriguing to listen to Wells’s theories, which he created prior to the findings of modern technology.
This point brings me to another fascinating facet of the novel about how the modern perspective of the future comes from an author in the 1890’s. Many people often envision the future as a place of decay due to human greed and gluttony or perhaps the end of the world. In H. G. Wells’s future, the land is shrouded entirely in abundant greenery, and people live in a community of absolute harmony that is void of conflict. After the Time Traveller spends a few days exploring this society, he determines that humans have achieved peace through the abolishing of hostility and therefore have sort of “reset” Earth’s natural resources.
Most importantly, however, the Time Traveller discovers that humans have also “evolved” into two radically different groups. Above ground in the beautiful land covered with vegetation as was described live the Eloi, whose existence appears to be free from struggle. Below ground in dark tunnels live the Morlocks, who, once subservient and indentured to the Eloi, now prey on their former superiors. Wells often references the Darwinian model of evolution by natural selection through this outcome of human struggle. Interestingly, he depicts the Eloi, who represent Victorian England's privileged upper class, as feeble, defenseless, and childish despite their state of happiness. Contrastingly, the Morlocks, who have adapted to their underground homes and are now nocturnal and sensitive to light, are a satirical reflection of the lower classes, who are forced to operate machinery and provide luxuries for the upper class. In Wells’s reality, the lower class is stuck in a vicious cycle of poor living conditions, even worse job opportunities, and forever imprisonment in darkness at the decadent hands of the upper class. In the future, however, the Morlocks become accustomed to their position and begin to use it to their advantage as they continue to provide clothes and tools for the dependent and useless Eloi while preying on them for food, similar to how butchers pamper an animal for their inevitable slaughter.
In conclusion, H.G. Wells’s novel is not only a pioneering literary achievement as he is credited with being the progenitor of the “time travel” subgenre but also clearly depicts advanced social and political ideas that contrast the nineteenth-century perception of the future as a socialist utopia.
Books Like This:
1984 BY GEORGE ORWELL
Winston Smith toes the Party line as here writes history to satisfy the demands of the Ministry of Truth. With each lie he writes, Winston grows to hate the Party, which seeks power for its own sake and persecutes those who dare to commit thoughtcrimes. But as he starts to think for himself, Winston can’t escape the fact that Big Brother is always watching...
A startling and haunting novel, 1984 creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the novel’s hold on the imaginations of whole generations or the power of its admonitions—a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.
FAHRENHEIT 451 BY RAY BRADBURY
Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Never questioning the destruction and ruin his actions produce, Montag returns each day to his bland life and wife Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But when he meets an eccentric, young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known.
Sixty years after its originally publication, Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 stands as a classic of world literature set in a bleak, dystopian future. Today its message has grown more relevant than ever before.
BRAVE NEW WORLD BY ALDOUS HUXLEY
Brave New World is a searching vision of an unequal, technologically-advanced future where humans are genetically bred, socially indoctrinated, and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively uphold an authoritarian ruling order–all at the cost of our freedom, full humanity and perhaps also our souls. Largely set in a futuristic World State, inhabited by genetically modified citizens and an intelligence-based social hierarchy, the novel anticipates huge scientific advancements in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation and classical conditioning. All of these combine to make a dystopian society that is challenged by only a single individual: the story's protagonist.
DUNE BY FRANK HERBERT (SERIES)
Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness. Coveted across the known universe, melange is a prize worth killing for…
When House Atreides is betrayed, the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined. And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.