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The Time Machine

SPOILERS

Added Tue, 29/05/2018
Release date
1894
Original title
The Time Machine
Феномены
References

H. G. Wells' novel "The Time Machine" (English: "The Time Machine") was reworked from the 1888 story "The Argonauts of Time" and published in 1895. He introduced the ideas of time travel and time machines into fiction, which were later used by many writers and formed the basis of a whole subgenre – chronofantastics. Before Wells, only E. Mitchell's short story "The Clock that Went Backwards" (1881) was published on this topic.

The clock that went backwards

Edward Page Mitchell

Book (fiction)|1881

An old and good Dutch watch... What could be better when you inherit such a thing after the death of your great-aunt? Yes, only your blood brother gets shares of large companies and a decent amount of money under the same will. But the brothers turn out to be honest and reasonable and go to study together at the best university in Holland. And only then it becomes clear to them that the deceased grandmother knew the value of things ...

The idea of the novel was taken by Wells from his own 1888 story "The Argonauts of Time", which, in turn, arose from an idea voiced by a student Hamilton-Gordon at a meeting of the Debating Society in 1887. He made a report on the possibilities of non-Euclidean geometry based on the book by Charles Hinton "What is the fourth dimension" (1884).

The first seven fragments of the novel under the general title "The Story of a Time Traveler" were published in the weekly "National Observer" from March to June 1894. Then in July-August 1894 Wells subjected the manuscript of the novel to substantial revision. The new version was published in the magazine "The New York Review of Books" in January-May 1895 under the title "The Tale of a Time Traveler". But already in May 1895, it was published in a separate edition in England and the USA under the now well-known name. Translated into Russian by V. I. Tomashevskaya, the novel was first published in 1900 in the magazine "Russia" under the title "Into the Depths of Centuries".

The plot of the novel is described in detail in Wikipedia, although all science fiction fans, as well as those who are simply interested in this topic, the work is mandatory to read in full. We will give a brief description of the plot here, and the main points concerning time travel, descriptions of the world of the future and other significant details will be taken to the section "Phenomenon in Media: chronoanomalia".

It's interesting 

H. G. Wells' novel "The Time Machine" (English: "The Time Machine", 1895) introduced the ideas of time travel and time machines into fiction, which were later used by many writers and formed the basis of a whole subgenre – chronofantastics

The main part of this relatively small work describes the world of the future (802,701), to which the Time Traveler goes. This world is a kind of dystopia: scientific progress and social inequality have led to the degradation of humanity. The book describes two kinds of creatures in which representatives of the human species will be transformed - Morlocks and eloi.

The author describes in the first person eight days spent in this world by a Time Traveler. After meeting with the Eloi, he, unaware of the existence of the Morlocks, calmly leaves his Car at the place of its "stop" near the White Sphinx Memorial, and he joins the Eloi and tries to establish language contact with them. At the same time, he tries to understand the structure and essence of the new human society and comes to the first, rather half-hearted conclusions that scientific and technological progress on Earth has stopped and humanity has reached a state of absolute rest.

Meanwhile, the Morlocks, who, despite the loss of intelligence, have retained an interest in technology and the ability to maintain it, find a Time Machine and hide it in the hollow pedestal of the White Sphinx. Having discovered the loss, the Traveler almost goes crazy, but eventually calms down and realizes that the Car could not have disappeared by itself, which means it can be found. He manages to find traces of carrying a Time Machine leading to the doors in the pedestal of the Sphinx, but all attempts to learn anything from the Eloi encounter a wall of complete misunderstanding and rejection.

At the same time, the Traveler has a friend from among the Eloi – Weena, whom he saved when she drowned while swimming in the river. To his complete surprise, Weena affectionately attaches herself to the Traveler and spends almost all the time with him, even bothering him to a certain extent. However, he does not dare to push away her expressions of feelings, experiencing his overwhelming loneliness himself.

From Weena, the Traveler learns for the first time that in the new human world everything is not as smooth as it seems at first glance – for example, the feeling of fear that seemed to him forever lost by the eloi actually remained in the form of an inexplicable and universal fear of the dark. Investigating the cause of this phenomenon, the Traveler accidentally sees several Morlocks at night, and then for the first time encounters one of them in daylight in a dilapidated dark building with access to the Underworld. Trying to understand its purpose, the Traveler ventures on a risky step – to descend into the Underworld through one of the ventilation wells. Having reached the bottom, he finds himself in a giant underground cave filled with operating machines and mechanisms that serve hordes of Morlocks, but unpreparedness almost leads the Traveler to death, and only by a miracle he manages to escape and return to the Upper World (that is, to the surface of the earth).

The journey underground put everything in its place, especially after the Traveler realized what exactly the Morlocks eat. So, the Morlocks, in the Time Traveler's view, turn out to be descendants of workers, "poor", who have been living in the Underground World all their lives and servicing machines and mechanisms. They are much smaller and weaker than modern humans, covered with white fur and do not tolerate bright light. Eloi are descendants of the former elite of society, the "rich", weak and fragile creatures, completely unsuited to work. Both of them, over the long millennia of existence that does not require mental activity, have practically lost their minds, turning into semi-animals. For many millennia, the Morlocks supplied the Eloi with everything they needed, but over time the food in the Underworld ran out, and the Morlocks began to come to the surface on moonless nights to kidnap the Eloi and eat their meat.

Wanting to get out of this terrible time as quickly as possible, taking Weena with him, he is looking for an opportunity to crack the walls of the pedestal of the Sphinx and in search of tools he goes with Weena to the Green Porcelain Palace — a crumbling museum similar to South Kensington. Here he finds matches, camphor and breaks a metal club out of the exhibit, but on the way back to the Sphinx through the night forest he gets surrounded by a whole horde of Morlocks. Trying to scare them off with fire, the Traveler arranges a forest fire that destroyed many pursuers, but at the same time irretrievably loses Weena.

On the morning of the next day, the Traveler reaches the Sphinx and unexpectedly finds the doors of its pedestal open, and the Time Machine is inside. Realizing the Morlocks' plan — using the Car as bait to lure the Traveler into a trap — he enters the chamber under the monument, where the Morlocks try to grab him by closing the entrance to the pedestal; however, the Time Traveler repels their onslaught and moves through time to the future.

The next stop he makes is probably several million years later, having discovered the complete absence of humanity and the general decline of life on earth. Driven further by purely scientific interest, the Traveler moves forward in time for another 30 million years, however, having felt extraordinary physical fatigue and being depressed psychologically from contemplating the view of the slowly dying Earth, he returns back and eventually gets back to the same day on which he started his Journey, but a few hours later the original time.

The story of a Time Traveler, which makes up the largest part of Wells' novel, is perceived with distrust by his interlocutors, so the very next day, having prepared the necessary instruments and tools, he goes on a new Time Journey in order to bring the relevant evidence from it, but he does not return from it.

Part 14 of the chapter was deleted by the author due to the unpleasant description of the degeneration of the people of the future, who became food for arthropods. The text was later restored. It can be found on the page wikisource.org/The Grey Man.

Phenomena in artwork: Chronorally

The possibility of time travel is explained in the following statement:

... there are four dimensions, three of which we call spatial and the fourth temporal. [...] The only difference between Time and any of the three spatial dimensions is that our consciousness moves along it.

Thus, the author draws an analogy between the work of gravity and time:

Our spiritual life, are immaterial and have no dimensions, is moving with a uniform velocity from the cradle to the grave at the Fourth Dimension of Space – Time. Exactly the same as if we began our existence fifty miles above the earth's surface would fall down.

In his logic of man (his soul/consciousness) is always moving forward (as the object falls down), but as a subject can overcome the attraction, and the person is able to overcome the set time.

With all this, the author quite a bit of attention to the principle of time travel and the machine with which this is happening, delving into the philosophical concept of the development of society. Therefore, we will not examine here the criticism of the idea of time travel and related paradoxes (it could be done in a separate article). We only denote the idea and the date of its occurrence.

The appearance of the time machine described rather poorly:

... skillfully made shiny metal object slightly larger than a small clock. It was made of ivory, and some transparent crystalline substance.

[...]

this plate is very vague surface, as though it was in some way not quite real. He pointed to one of the parts of the model. Also, here is one little white lever, and here is another.

Its principle of operation described is even simpler:

if you press this lever, the machine starts to slide in the future, and the second lever causes the reverse movement. Here is the saddle, which should sit the Time Traveller. Now I'll press the lever, and the machine will go. It will vanish, pass into future time, and disappear out of our eyes.

The author also gives a description of the feelings of the time traveler in the time machine work:

I'm afraid that fails to convey the peculiar sensations of Time travelling. To understand me, they need to experience for yourself. They are very unpleasant. As if rushing somewhere, helpless, at breakneck speed. Feeling terrible, inevitable drop never leaves you. As I raced this way, night followed day like the flapping of the wings. Soon a vague outline of my lab disappeared, and I saw the sun, every minute made the leap across the sky from East to West, and every minute the next day.

Interesting to describe the idea of the physical condition of the traveler and the machine during its operation. Compare them with a spindle or a bullet, moving how fast that elusive eye. Here the author applies to the dangers of such a move:

While I have great speed rushed at the Time, it didn't matter, I was, so to speak, in a liquefied state, like the couple slid between the encountered objects. But stop meant that I should, molecule per molecule, to squeeze into what turned out to be on my way; the atoms of my body were to enter into such close contact with the atoms of the obstacle between them could occur violent chemical reaction - perhaps a powerful explosion, after which I, together with my apparatus would have been on the other side of all dimensions of the Unknown.

We will not delve into the description and analysis of the world of the future. Mention only that 802 801 year familiar world was destroyed. Among the buildings, like palaces, green gardens and live "Eloi" (heirs of the ruling classes). They are kind, beautiful and funny, but it is far from the science (don't know how to write, read, count, etc.). The underground world is inhabited by brutish "Morlocks" (descendants of the workers and other representatives of the oppressed during the author's classes). There they work on some difficult cars, eating vegetarian-Eloi, although out of habit continue to serve them.

Eloi the author describes as follows:

I was looking intently at their graceful figures, reminiscent of Dresden porcelain figurines. Their short hair is equally fleecy on the face could not see the slightest sign of vegetation, the ears were surprisingly small. The mouths were small, with bright red, rather thin lips, pointed chin. The eyes were large and mild; and - do not take it for vanity! they lacked expression of interest in me, what I was entitled to expect.

[...]

Men and women of the future did not differ from each other in costume, and neither the figure nor the manners, in a word, nothing, now what distinguishes one gender from another. And children, it seemed, were simply miniature copies of their parents. So I decided that children of this age differ remarkably early development, at least physically, and that my opinion was later confirmed by numerous evidence.

But the description of the Morlocks:

I held out my hand and touched something soft. At the same moment, beady eyes darted to the side and something white ran past me. Frightened, I turned and saw a small APE-like creature with a strangely lowered head, running across the sunlit space behind me. [...] it was off-white and he had strange large greyish-red eyes; its head and back were covered with light wool. But, as I said, it ran too fast and I was unable to see distinctly. [...] I lit a match and glancing down saw a small white creature, with large bright eyes which was left, staring at me. I shuddered. It was something like a human spider. [...] pale, chinless faces and great, devoid of the eyelids reddish gray eyes.

The above-ground world of the future is playing with paints and, in spite of everything, reflects the progress that has happened over these thousands of years:

The air was free of mosquitoes and gnats, the earth from weeds and mold. Everywhere there were juicy fruits and beautiful fragrant flowers; bright butterflies fluttered everywhere. The ideal of preventive medicine was attained. Disease-causing germs were destroyed. During his stay there I didn't see even signs of contagious diseases. Thanks to all that even the processes of decay and destruction has taken a whole new look. In public relations too, had won a great victory. I saw that people began to live in gorgeous palaces, dressed in luxurious clothes, and freed from any difficulty. There was no sign of a struggle, political or economic. Trade, industry, advertising - all, which is the basis of our public life, gone from the world of the Future.

A time traveler moves for a few million years. There he sees that the Sun has ceased to sit, and only moves up and down. The planet is inhabited by a big scary monster:

I cannot convey the sense of abominable desolation that hung over the world. In the East - the red in the sky, in the North - darkness, dead salt sea, rocky shore, on which were slowly crawling these vile monsters. Monotonous, poisonous-green lichens, the thin air that causes pain in lungs, - all this made an overwhelming impression!

Translated by «Yandex.Translator»


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