1. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    WF BookClub October Selection: The Time Machine

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Wreybies, Sep 13, 2010.

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    The Writing Forums BookClub Selection for October is:



    The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.


    Originally published in 1895. A classic that has withstood the winds of time and change. Please avail yourselves of your copy that we might get down to a good chat. :)

    Many thanks to Thirdwind for his dedicated effort to keep the dialogue and the BookClub alive and kicking.
     
  2. Ice Princess
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    Ice Princess Member

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    Does this mean the September book club is over? :)

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    The man who reads is the man who leads - Mid 20th Century Proverb
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The BookClub has had a few false starts and we wanted to give people the time to get a hold of their copies and start reading so that they would be ready to chat come October. We felt that this might get the ball rolling a little more smoothly for the forum and the Club. The idea is that we will run things the same way that we do for the contests. One is running while the slection process for the next month is also underway. Since this is the first month we do it this way, there is just the one month. As soon as the chat for October starts, we will also begin the selection process for the next month, November.
     
  4. Ice Princess
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    Ice Princess Member

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    Oh right I get it now. Great choice of book by the way. :)

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    The man who reads is the man who leads - Mid 20th Century Proverb
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    In other words, yes, the September offering of <no book whatsoever> is indeed closed. :)
     
  6. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    OK, my copy's come in at the library. Do we start reading 1st October? Is that the idea? Or shall I knuckle down earlier?
     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Earlier.
     
  8. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks goodness for that lol or I've been cheating:) Read it this morning.
     
  9. Daisy215
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    Daisy215 Member

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    I started reading! :)
     
  10. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I just finished reading it and found that I enjoyed it much more than when I read it several years ago.

    It seems to me that Wells is providing commentary about the society in which he lives (late 19th century), which is evident from reading the first few chapters. The Elois and the Morlocks could be representations of class struggle between the working class and the upper class. As innocent and helpless as the Eloi seem, I think there is a case to be made that the Morlocks were the real victims, and that there may be more to this struggle than is explicitly stated in the book.

    Also, the first thing I asked myself after finishing the book was whether the book is optimistic or pessimistic about humans. I still haven't made up my mind about it since there is evidence for both throughout the book. I'm just curious to see what others have to say about this.
     
  11. Chudz
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    Chudz Contributing Member

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    I finished reading this last night. And I'll admit it took a little for me to get into. I think it was due to the language and style. However, once I got used to that, I was hooked. I'm planning on reading it again before making any deeper comments on it, though.
     
  12. Daisy215
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    Daisy215 Member

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    I read it.

    I felt for poor Weena, she was my favorite. I didn't like the time traveler at all. I thought that he was really just a dense ignorant person.
    But the real question remains was the fact that playtime and eating fruit was all there was. Does this mean that humanity had evolved to greatness, were suffering is gone? Or was the not having knowledge the downfall, meaning we were just useless and there was no point in going on?

    Deep stuff
     
  13. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    But was he dense and ignorant, or was he just so hugely intelligent about big things like, say, being able to build a time machine, that he just couldn't read social situations and human interaction/motivation as well as other people can?
     
  14. Chudz
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    Chudz Contributing Member

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    After reading this a second time, I had to smile when the song “Eat the Rich” popped into my head.

    And I felt for poor Weena as well. She's a wonderfully done sympathetic character, who is almost completely built up through her actions and the Time Traveler's interpretations of them.

    The Time Traveler, himself, comes off more haughty to me than dense or ignorant, especially when he first arrives in the future.

    Regarding the book being optimistic or pessimistic about humanity, I'm leaning toward a bit of pessimism. After all, we're seeing it in decline. And it shows humanity consuming itself to top it off. I kind of take that to mean we will be our own downfall. Just my opinion though.

    I'm curious if anyone has attached any particular significance to the giant crabs. I'm not sure what to make of them, and am trying to decided if they're just there for atmosphere, or if their presence alludes to something else.
     
  15. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    After think about it, I would have to agree with Chudz that the book is ultimately pessimistic. The future seems to be a failed utopia, and the constant conflict between the two races suggests that some of the differences currently dividing us will never be solved.

    As for the crabs at the end, I'm not sure if they have any significance. When I read it, I just shrugged them off as being there to create effect and atmosphere.
     
  16. Daisy215
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    Daisy215 Member

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    I think the crabs are there to amplify the feeling that we failed as a race. All

    that we have left now are giant crabs. It's a bit depressing.

    I think that hg wells put thought and meaning into everything in this book.

    So overall, who liked it?
     
  17. Chudz
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    Chudz Contributing Member

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    I enjoyed it. However, having never read it before this point, and having only seen the 2002 film adaption, I kept waiting for the Uber-Morlock to show up. :D

    I think I actually prefer the book over that movie, though, now that I think about it.
     
  18. Daisy215
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    Daisy215 Member

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    There's a movie?
    Well now I have something to do this weekend! I'm sure it's not as good but hey, it will help me think more about the book. More discussion then!
     
  19. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    A little late to the party I apologise but better late than never.

    I was thinking about both these things as I went through too.The class division is clear, but I do feel is equally scathing of both. Running with a literal upper(world) class who have nothing but aesthetism taking to extremes speaks volumes for the time is was written, and a literal under class who remain industrious but thoroughly horrifying. Whether the Morlocks are actually horrifying or whether Wells' Time Traveller character is merely rendering them as such is up for debate however.

    As to whether the book is optimistic or pessimistic, I don't see it as overly optimistic I must say. For all Man's struggle, what is left on Earth (we don't know if another class left it over time) is barely human, driven base and pointless by a class system. Similarly, it's not overly pessimistic in my eyes though does fall on this side of the fence. The Time Traveller is shocked at the future, but falls short of outright condemnation of what has befallen Man. Perhaps that judgement is left to the reader.

    I stumbled a touch too over the opening pages which were quite claustrophobic in their scientific vernacular, but likewise I found the text latterly blossomed. I compared it initially with the works of Jules Verne. Both have actual science in their science-fiction, and both have a passion for storytelling which elevates their science into likeable fiction. Both's enthusiasm for the subject matter caught my attention as a reader.

    Deep stuff indeed. It's interesting to think of the Eloi as an elevated species. The Time Traveller certainly doesn't, but as you mention, he may not be the most unbias of spokespeople. You could have some success arguing they are living an Edenic existence if we remove the Morlocks from the equation, largely free from pain and suffering etc, but the Time Traveller does make the point that they are merely "cattle". Just as cattle is bred these days, free to roam and graze, fed regularly with access to breed, so the Eloi are. But like cattle so are they harvested, so though both may be unware they are nevertheless not living the Edenic lifestyle that first appears. With that clarified I'm unsure you'd get very far arguing the Eloi were a truly superior race evolved from our own. It's interesting to note just here that at the time of writing Darwin's evolutionary debate was still very much active (as it is today). Just a nice frame of reference is all.

    It is interesting you are drawn to Weena as a character. She is, undoubtedly, an attractive charcter - she couldn't really fail to be given the path of aetheism she follows (a movement still prevelant when Wells was writing). Yet, I feel in terms of the story she is sorely underdeveloped, but that this is not necessarily her not Wells' fault. I can't see how she can be more than a security blanket to the Time Traveller. Their communication is negligible and she acts as pitifully as a very small child. She has no depth, but she is incapable of it. So while we, and the Time Traveller, do feel for her - I struggle to feel strongly for her - and I think the Time Traveller has the same notions. Maybe it is an overtly pessimistic read after all!

    Yeah, I'm unsure about this myself. All I could fathom was a trajectory of regression. Man has become ape-like once more with the Morlocks, subject to nocturnal activity which strengthens any debate on the primordial nature of the race. Perhaps further regression sees the Morlocks "evolve" back into sea creatures. I forget, is the colour of the crabs mentioned? If white, then this argument could be given legs, if red, and if Wells knew his subject matter, then perhaps even more so given the effects of the light spectrum in the dark.

    Certainly it's a depressing result for life on earth. Despite all its and our struggles all that's left appears to be crabs. Again though, we don't know that all is left are crabs, and we don't know if Man left Earth. I fail to see the absolute link between crabs and failure, but someone with a better knowledge of cosmology / mythology may be able to make better links than I.

    Overall, I liked it. For the time it was written it's a great piece of sci-fi, one that warns as much as it celebrates Man's accomplishment. Due to its length it felt a little undercooked, and no doubt much more could be said, but there's a power in Wells' brevity. I made allusions to Jules Verne above, and felt for example his Journey to the Centre of the Earth, with which similarities can be drawn, probably made a better stab of the science and of actual narrative, but Wells probably made the better socio-political statement.
     
  20. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Indeed there is a movie, with Rod Taylor as the Time Traveller, and the lovely Yvette Mimieux as Weena.
     
  21. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    There is also the more recent installment staring Guy Pearce.
     
  22. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^I'm related to that guy. Distantly. Somehow.

    Off topic from the current vein of discussion, but I found it interesting that all of the characters in the Time Traveler's actual time were referred to by profession, "the time traveler," "the medical man," etc, except for Filby. I realize Filby isn't a terribly prominent or influential character, but it really struck me as odd.
     
  23. thirdwind
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    One of the main reasons I didn't feel any sympathy for the Elois is because there is over 800,000 years of history that is unmentioned. The reader has to fill in the gaps, and what we see in the book is just a short glimpse in time. I agree that the future world is bleak and pessimistic since it's implied that the conflict between classes (or races) has been going on for well over 800,000 years.

    This brings me to the ending of the book. I suspect that the time traveler might have gone to the near future to witness firsthand the cause of the split between the two races. I wonder if the time traveler could have made a difference since, in the movie, it's mentioned that one cannot change the past.
     
  24. Gannon
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    The Time Traveller character implies or states (I can't exactly remember which) that his machine is capable of taking him back and forth in time. Current experimental scientific thinking seems to concur that travelling forward in time may be possible if one can accelerate fast to slow relative time, but that going back in time is impossible.

    Clearly, this tale is science-fiction, the stress being on fiction, and having the ability to go in both directions is certainly more appealing than just forward. Wells wouldn't have had access to current thinking (without his time machine, that is), so with either his science hat on or his fiction hat, the mystery as to where the Time Traveller has gone remains unsolved.

    Scientists like to observe so it's entirely possible he went to the near future to satisfy some of his curiosity. With the fluid mechanics of time now available to him, perhaps he went back to the same period he originally went to, preventing Weena's death? Or, perhaps he indeed went back in time.

    IMO, going back in time in this book would not affect the future. I don't see how the Time Traveller alone could resolve the entire world's class distinctions and social unease. So, if he cannot change the past, what about the future?

    Certainly, I can see how he can prevent Weena from dying at the hands of the Morlocks. He's already changed that future once saving her from the river. How about the near future? Similar to the past, one man is very unlikely to resolve what is clearly deeply entrenched. Perhaps this pessimism / warning is what we should be taking from this book above anything else?
     
  25. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    But Weena dies anyway, so did he change the future or just delay it? ;)
     

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