H.G. Wells's first science fiction novel, The Time Machine is part adventure story, part speculation, part warning. The distant future the Time Traveler visits is inhabited by the peaceful Eloi above ground and the malevolent Morlocks beneath it. While he enjoys his initial time with the Eloi, eating fruit and lounging in grassy paradise, the Traveler must soon confront the evil Morlocks on their own ground, and discovers a hidden existence more terrible than any nightmare.
It's interesting that Wells condemns the Morlocks for their twisted subterranean life, but doesn't fully extol the languid pastoralism of the Eloi. It wasn't technology (represented by the Morlocks) that was evil—it was the inhuman uses to which man had put it. And while the peaceful Eloi with their gentle proto-hippy communalism lead more appealing lives, their rejection of technology leaves them defenseless prey for the monsters beneath them.
The Morlocks are obviously inferior in culture and intelligence to the Eloi; though they enslave, they are in fact enslaved to the machinery of their domain, and their underground existence evidences the shamefulness of their inorganic subservience. The Eloi are more cultured, more attuned to the natural world, but their position is precarious—having retreated to mere culture and abandoned all work, they're malleable in the hands of a physically superior race.
Like all Wells's sci-fi novels, The Time Machine contains equal elements of horror and philosophy. The Morlocks and Eloi represent two sides of human nature, separated at great risk to the social fabric; that both races represent evolved Man is a clear warning of modern threats, and a terror worthy of H. P. Lovecraft or Stephen King. More than just an exciting read, this is one of the first novels to take seriously the threat of technology to those it was meant to serve.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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