Monday, November 9, 2009

63. The Time Machine

What I liked the most about this book--what makes any dystopian view of society in science fiction good in my opinion--is that it was slightly crazy yet completely correct. The basic sociological idea behind the story is that if humans continue to separate themselves from all work and strive only for peace, prosperity and luxury in the personal realm, then we will quickly be divided into two groups-- (1)those who must work for (2)those who don't have to. It is the basic proletariat-bourgeoisie argument. However, it doesn't seem that Wells follows Marxism to the letter, as his futuristic realm involves much socialism, which he depicts as dumbing down the species considerably. It is as if he is saying to achieve our goals of social justice will make us lazy and stupid.
I sure felt stupid when I first started reading this book. It is a short novel, and I knew it was some type of science fiction--the title tipped me off there-- but I didn't bargain for having to look up two words in the dictionary before even finishing the first page! (If you're curious, the words are fecundity and recondite.) I also didn't imagine I would have a feminist qualm with Wells when it was all said and done. It is true I had been thinking about feminism during the first few days of reading this book, but I didn't think the two should meet. However one of the first thoughts I had when finishing the novel was about the awful portrayal of women therein. There are only two mentions of women at all: one a servant; one a diminuitive twit, who follows the main character like a lap dog, is treated likewise, and eventually dies as a sacrifice for our hero's escape. Bad form, Wells.
On the whole, though, I did enjoy the book and the thoughts provoked since reading it.