The Time Machine to be a light, fun read. Frankly, I was surprised by the philosophical ramblings of the narrator and the above-average writing, which both gave the book more heft.
The story is about a time traveler who arrives in London in the 83rd Century. His first impression is positive. “I saw mankind housed in splendid shelters, gloriously clothed, and engaged in no toil. There were no signs of struggle, neither social nor economical struggle. The shop, the advertisement, traffic, all that commerce which constitutes the body of our world, was gone. It was natural on that golden evening that I should jump at the idea of a social paradise. The difficulty of increasing population had been met, I guessed, and population had ceased to increase.”
Well’s socialist leanings were obvious throughout the book, but later in the book, some honest ambivalence presents itself when he discovers this future society is not as perfect as he had imagined. “'I grieved to think how brief the dream of the human intellect had been. It had committed suicide. It had set itself steadfastly towards comfort and ease, a balanced society with security and permanency as its watchword; it had attained its hopes--to come to this at last. Once, life and property must have reached almost absolute safety. The rich had been assured of his wealth and comfort, the toiler assured of his life and work. No doubt in that perfect world there had been no unemployed problem, no social question left unsolved. And a great quiet had followed.” He concludes that a “perfect” society without challenges or problems inevitably leads to decay. I found his comments on the obliteration of gender especially fascinating in light of “progress” being made in that area in western culture. (I say that to our shame.)
Christian author, C. S. Lewis, strongly disagreed with Well’s socialist answers to world problems, especially the idea that government should abolish all religion. (Apparently, Jules in That Hideous Strength is Lewis’ caricature of Wells.) If you can sift through the socialist propaganda of the book - and take advantage of it to clarify your own thoughts, this book will bring an enjoyable evening of reading. I had a hard time putting it down.