One evening, our narrator attends a dinner party hosted by an acquaintance with a scientific obsession. He wishes to prove that time is a dimension and that it can be travelled through. The evening is full of spirited scientific discussion and culminates with the host showing his guests a model of a time machine he has constructed. When he turns the lever the “Time Machine” disappears. It has travelled in time the host announces.
The next week our narrator returns for another dinner party. But to his guests consternation, the host is not there, but he has left a note inviting his guests to start eating and promising his imminent return. Is he travelling through time?
True to his note he soon returns, but he is dirty and disheveled and insisting on eating and bathing before telling them the story of his unbelievable journey through time.
This tiny 1895 novella had a huge impact. With it, H.G. Wells invented the time traveling genre! And hugely strengthened the dystopian genre which at that time only had a handful of novels to recommend it.
He used it not only to inspire the imaginations of his readers but also to provoke their intellects. Not so much to get them all working on building time machines of their own but more to make them think about the society they were living in and what might become of it. His tale is a clear warning that inequality and the abuse of the poor would end with them rising up over a physically weak aristocracy. A warning that still hasn’t been heeded!
Regardless of its social message it is still a fantastic story. It cracks along at a heck of a pace and the scene setting is utterly believable. The characters though are a little thin, but not so much that it hampers the readers enjoyment.