A reading club with a view to the future

582 H.G. Wells: The Time Machine

“The Time Machine” follows an inventor’s journey to the distant future, where he witnesses the divergent fates of humanity.



"The Time Machine" is a classic science fiction novel by H.G. Wells, known for its exploration of time travel and its impact on society. The story revolves around an unnamed Time Traveller, a brilliant inventor who creates a machine capable of traveling through time. Eager to witness the future, he embarks on a journey far into the distant ages, leaving the Victorian era behind.

As the Time Traveller ventures into the future, he discovers two distinct societies. In the year 802,701 AD, he encounters the Eloi, a gentle and childlike race living aboveground. They seem to live in a utopia but lack curiosity, knowledge, and ambition. Beneath the surface, he discovers the Morlocks, a subterranean, sinister species, preying on the Eloi. The Time Traveller's experiences in these future societies lead him to reflect on the consequences of unchecked progress, the division of humanity, and the cyclical nature of civilization.

"The Time Machine" is a thought-provoking tale that delves into the possibilities and consequences of time travel while offering insightful commentary on human nature and societal evolution.


  1. Title: The Time Machine 
  2. Author: H.G. Wells 
  3. Publishing Year: 2017
  4. Publisher: William Heinemann 
  5. Length in Hours: 3 hours and 22 minutes 

5 main ideas

  1. Time Travel: The central premise revolves around the invention of a machine that enables time travel into the distant future.
  2. Utopia and Dystopia: The novel contrasts two future societies, the idyllic yet naïve Eloi and the sinister and industrial Morlocks.
  3. Evolution and Regression: The Time Traveller's experiences prompt reflections on the divergent evolutionary paths humanity might take.
  4. Social Commentary: Wells uses the future societies to comment on the issues of class struggle, technology, and the consequences of societal division.
  5. The Finite Nature of Civilization: The novel explores the rise and fall of civilizations, suggesting the cyclical nature of human history.

5 funny quotes

  1. "It's against reason, and it's against nature," said Filby. "What for?" said the Time Traveller.
  2. "A Time Machine!" I stopped, gaping, and the shopman—I believe he is a man from Woking—stopped, too."
  3. "As I put on pace, night followed day like the flapping of a black wing."
  4. "It's all very well to say 'drink me,' but I'll look first, and see whether it's marked 'poison' or not."
  5. "You can show black is white by argument, said Filby, but you will never convince me."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "The future is dark, the present burdensome; only the past, dead and finished, bears contemplation."
  2. "I think that at that time none of us quite believed in the Time Machine. The fact is, the Time Traveler was one of those men who are too clever to be believed: you never felt that you saw all round him; you always suspected some subtle reserve, some ingenuity in ambush, behind his lucid frankness."
  3. "Nature never appeals to intelligence until habit and instinct are useless. There is no intelligence where there is no need of change."
  4. "And I have by me, for my comfort, two strange white flowers—shriveled now, and brown and flat and brittle—to witness that even when mind and strength had gone, gratitude and a mutual tenderness still lived on in the heart of man."
  5. "We are kept keen on the grindstone of pain and necessity, and, it seemed to me, that here was that hateful grindstone broken at last!"

5 dilemmas

  1. The ethical dilemma of the Time Traveller's intervention in the future, questioning the responsibility of tampering with the natural course of history.
  2. The paradoxical dilemma of witnessing divergent timelines and contemplating the potential consequences of altering the past or future.
  3. The moral dilemma of the Time Traveller's choices during his encounters with the Eloi and the Morlocks, affecting the lives of these future beings.
  4. The philosophical dilemma of the Eloi's seemingly idyllic existence contrasted with their lack of ambition and knowledge, prompting reflections on the nature of progress.
  5. The existential dilemma of the Time Traveller's own place in the continuum of time, contemplating his identity and significance amidst the vastness of history.

5 examples

  1. The Time Traveller - The unnamed protagonist and inventor of the time machine, through whose perspective the story is told.
  2. Weena - One of the Eloi, a gentle and curious girl who befriends the Time Traveller during his time in the future.
  3. The Eloi - The childlike, surface-dwelling race of the future, seemingly living in a state of utopia.
  4. The Morlocks - The sinister and subterranean species, living beneath the Earth, preying on the Eloi.
  5. The Palace of Green Porcelain - A strange, decaying structure the Time Traveller discovers in the future, filled with relics of the past.

Referenced books

  1. "Philosophical Transactions" - A scientific journal published by the Royal Society of London. The Time Traveller refers to it when explaining his experiments and scientific theories to his guests.
  2. "Nature" - A prominent scientific journal that covers a wide range of scientific disciplines. The Time Traveller mentions this publication to support his views on time travel and its possibilities.
  3. "Nineteenth Century" - A literary and cultural magazine that was popular during the Victorian era. The Time Traveller uses it to emphasize how his theories were viewed skeptically by some of his contemporaries.
  4. "Palaeolithic Remains" - A book discussing archaeological findings and prehistoric civilizations. The Time Traveller references this work when he speaks about the Eloi and Morlocks and their evolution over time.
  5. "Man's Place in Nature" by Thomas Henry Huxley - In this real-world book, Huxley examines human evolution and the relationship between humans and apes. The Time Traveller briefly alludes to this work to make a point about the evolution of the Eloi and Morlocks.

Share a quote

"It's all very well to say 'drink me,' but I'll look first, and see whether it's marked 'poison' or not."

Become a NextBook Insider

Join our community to access exclusive content, comment on stories, participate in giveaways, and more.