I have long been looking forward to reading Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis, but upon opening it, was confronted by a note stating that “The author would be sorry if any reader supposed he was too stupid to have enjoyed Mr. H.G. Well’s fantasies or too ungrateful to acknowledge his debt to them.” Thus, I felt that it would be a disrespect to both Mr. Lewis and Mr. Wells to read this before sampling some of Wells’ writing. So, I immediately purchased the first novel of his that I came across: The Time Machine.
This book had been resting alluringly next to Narnia for some time before I was finally able to read it in my rare moments not occupied by studying, practicing, and more studying. I found it intriguing and it was with great difficult that I set it aside at night. (I suppose I may just as well have kept reading though, since I lay awake wondering what would happen next anyway.) However, although I enjoyed it, it was not at all what I expected. (Except for the time travel…somehow I saw that coming…) I admit part of me was disappointed. I loved the unique manner of storytelling, the contrasting imagery of beauty and terror, and the masterful blend of science and fantasy. That said, I honestly expected more. Granted, it was a short piece, but I would have gladly read several times its length had the author included other adventures by the unnamed time traveler instead of just one. I had been hoping to read of the distant past or even the near future rather than the same description of the earth in 800,000 years, however fascinating that might have been.
Overall, despite my one complaint, it was thought-provoking and bore similarities to two of my favorite authors. The language flowed similar to that of C.S. Lewis in Until We Have Faces (if I remember correctly) and the eerie quality of the plot resembled a drawn-out Ray Bradbury tale. The concepts covered by this book are also astounding, especially in light of its tiny size. It delves into the necessity of fear and struggle, the consequences of the class-system, and even the rise and fall of basic morality. Not to mention, this is considered the first serious book about time travel, responsible for starting a trend that my “Whovian” friends certainly appreciate.