The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman

Magician's LandSomething nags at me with Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy, and it’s not whether or not you’d class them as traditional fantasy in the vein of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe or the Harry Potter books, or as more adult-based urban fantasy (say of the Dresden Files for example). I think the problem is the magic itself. Not that it exists, but the way Grossman describes it.

The Magician’s Land is and entertaining and enjoyable conclusion to the trilogy which began as a lot of sweary teenage Harry Potter types (The Magicians, 2009) and morphed into a darker kings and queens of the magic lands adventure (The Magician King, 2011). There is a lot to admire in Grossman’s writing, and his ideas. We left off the story with our hero, Quentin Coldwater, back on Earth trying to make a life for himself after his expulsion from the magical land of Fillory. Julia is out of the story, while Elliot and Janet were left ruling Fillory with Josh and Poppy. Quentin is now in a bookstore with a bunch of other magicians, being tested for a potential quest. Suddenly, however, Quentin is back at Brakebills, his former magical school, and is a new professor. One student, Plum, is trapped by Quentin’s old love, Alice (who is now a niffin) when a prank goes wrong. Quentin rescues Plum, but he’s sacked and Plum is expelled. Quentin again it seems, goes from hero to zero. We’re now back to the bookstore thread and Quentin and Plum have been recruited by a bird to find and steal a magical object. Meanwhile, Elliot and Janet discover that Fillory’s days are numbered.

Grossman plays with time in the early narrative of the book, so it takes a while to settle into a coherent plot. This is a good thing! It makes the story intriguing and asks the reader to pay attention. The early chapters feel cold and distant, as if Grossman is deliberately making it clear that this is an adult novel with adult themes. But then on our first trip to visit Elliot, we’re back on profane but amusing magician territory again. There’s some deft touches and pleasing nods to other genre pieces (the talking horse sighing in exasperation at the end of the world, again!). There are some nice touches throughout the book which respect the fans of the series but I suspect someone picking this up without the back story might be a tad confused.

There are a few rare passages, such as when Quentin and Plum become whales, that are truly magical; full of wonder and imagination. And I think that is the problem with The Magician’s Land. Throughout the book, there are descriptions of magic, such as when the ‘land’ is created, which are just dull. He tries to portray magic as natural; scientific. More like chemistry than a thing of beauty and wonder: “all very theoretical, and Quentin wasn’t that into theory” – me neither. Grossman throws a great deal of imagination into these descriptions, but they don’t feel like magic. They feel like the narrative treading water. Which is a shame.

The story is quite episodic in nature. I enjoyed Grossman’s storytelling. Whenever I thought I’d found the point of the tale, I soon discovered another direction was soon upon me. Even the title of the book can be taken a number of ways. Subtexts? Several. Connections to the past; friends and family. What it means to love someone. What it means to love magic. What it means to grow up into a different sort of person. Quentin isn’t the typical hero; he doesn’t always win the girl and save the day. It is brave of Grossman to make is main character someone who has more than a few negative traits, and mix him up with other characters in ways you wouldn’t expect. Like everyone in the book, I expected more from Quentin’s relationship with Plum, although by the conclusion, it was more real that those expectations never came to pass. Unfortunately, Alice’s reaction to her new condition was more than predictable.

In Grossman’s world, magic is imperfect and the hero’s don’t live happily ever after, which is a good thing. He tries to make it as real as he can, given the genre conventions and deconstructions. Aside from the occasional magical drift; the skilled narrative, complex character relationships, imaginative world-building and back story all add up to a decent diversion into a magician’s land.

This review is courtesy of NetGalley

Space Opera by Ian J Simpson

Derek the Despot roared with laughter in brutal triumph.

I’d always wanted to fall in love with someone in a bookshop.

The strings bled pain in sympathetic appreciation.

I figured the odds were good, as I hung around them whenever I could.

Derek now had everything he ever wanted. The universe was his.

So it comes to this moment, this perfect moment.

He sat back on his command chair and surveyed the scene around him.

Cos I always figured that she’d been hanging around the science fiction section, looking too.

The planet was blackened beneath him. His enemies crushed; defeated.

After all, if I’m looking, here, she might be too.

Fire defied physics as the fleet of heroes burned.

What else is there to do on a Sunday afternoon?

Brad Fantastic, Derek’s nemesis, lay dead at his feet. Humanity’s last hope gone.

Read a book?

Since Derek first came to power, to rule the Company, his mission had been clear.

Alone?

To take away the freedoms of mankind and machine-kind.

And so I stood browsing the classics, looking for new reprints.

To halt the spread of humanity and their toys across the galaxy.

I suddenly felt her, at my shoulder.

To stem the infection.

And the world went dark.

To end the beautiful melody with a discordant hell.

Because she said hello and I felt the blood run to my feet.

So there had been huge, dreadful battles in space.

I couldn’t even turn around.

Derek had made sure that planets had been destroyed and billions had suffered and died.

So she said hello again.

The good women and men had risen against him.

I continued to fail to turn around. I was becoming panicky.

Brad Fantastic and the Fearsome Five.

Breathing heavily, I plucked a book from the shelf. Ringworld.

About as fearsome as a wet fart in a swimming pool.

About a second more passed.

They’d built intelligent, living, weaponised ships and huge, scary robots.

Another second.

But Derek crushed them all in his relentless pursuit of his ambition. His goal.

Sounds suddenly drown me, sounds never meant to be heard.

Derek the Despot reflected on why the good guys were all dead.

Certainly not in a bookshop, anyway.

In between bouts of hysterical laughter.

For a moment, I thought she would walk away.

You see, Derek thought, while watching the planet beneath his space ship catch fire.

I was being too slow, too scared.

It was never about the power.

But she reached past my shoulder and touched to book.

He boomed out another enormous guffaw.

And then gently, tenderly, she touched my hand with her thumb.

It was never about control.

I let go of the book which mind-numbingly, painfully, slowly fell to the floor.

When Brad was at his feet, his body charred from the energy pistol, with a moment’s breath left.

And I turned to face her.

He looked at Derek the Despot with pleading eyes, trying to understand.

And she was beautiful.

Searching for comprehension.

I think she said something, maybe about seeing me here before.

For a reason.

But all I heard were the angels singing her name.

Derek, like the good and proper villain he was, of course explained all to the dying hero.

Eventually, I managed to say ‘Hi’.

Derek, you see, didn’t want to be the ultimate ruler.

And when she laughed, the hearts of all the gods and demons broke with joy.

Didn’t want to be the tyrant with all kneeling down before him on a hundred or a thousand planets.

And she said ‘Hi’ right back at me.

It wasn’t about the power. It’s not even about you or me, Derek had said to Brad.

The orchestra of perfection played for me.

As Derek slowed his hysterical laughing he typed some commands into his control panel.

But then the sound cracked. Inharmonious.

Derek the Despot looked down at his final command.

As she tentatively reached out to touch me her eyes glazed over.

To destroy. For your own good.

She fell away.

He thought about the look on Brad Fantastic’s face. He laughed one more time.

Out of reach.

He’d told Brad that his one mission, his one true purpose, was the end of everything.

Falling.

Including me, Derek had said to Brad.

I tried calling out, but the sound was drowning me; killing me.

He looked at the screen which said: ‘to destroy the universe, hit enter’.

And the world went black.

A short note on why Ancillary Justice really annoyed me.

Ancillary Justice won just about every award going: Hugo, Nebula, Clarke, BSFA, Locus and Kitchie. Almost a clean sweep. It was criticallyAncillary Justice acclaimed pretty much everywhere.

Firstly, after reading this, I can confirm that I’m not a huge fan of far future space opera. I never got on with the Culture Novels, for example, although my favourite books include Jem, Hyperion, and The Sparrow. Maybe I should just stop reading this kind of book? Secondly, I thought Ann Leckie’s debut was original, imaginative and very well written. I thought the characters were interesting and I enjoyed getting to know them. I thought the gender politics were excellent. I thought the attention to detail and the deft writing were pretty much spot on. I thought the science was plausible enough. I never once thought ‘no way’. The universe Leckie created was one I bought almost completely, in terms of civilisation and politics, although the tea thing was a bit twee (and I couldn’t stop thinking about the Firefly episode Shindig for some reason).

I totally get why it was so critically acclaimed, up to a point. However, I think it was intrinsically flawed and therefore probably shouldn’t have won anything. The story is told in two strands early on, from the first person perspective of Breq (the ancillary) and from the Radch starship, the Justice of Toren One Esk. Necessarily, there is a lot of world building in the early chapters. This is where the novel falls down. The first person narration is wrong. The conceit is wrong. First person narration usually has some acknowledgement of its intended audience. The reader knows why the story is being told to them. As the end of Ancillary Justice approached I had increasingly hoped that the conceit would reveal itself, but it didn’t. So who was Breq narrating too? If it was us, the 21st Century reader, then how or why isn’t made evident. If Breq was narrating to someone in her own time, why all the description of politics, society and science. Why the narrated world building? Surely they wouldn’t need it?

Simply by putting Ancillary Justice into first person ruined it for me. It was never going to match the hype, and everything else about it was pretty much spot on, but Leckie’s choice not to write Ancillary Justice in the third person really, really annoyed me.

On reading without reading: The Dark Tower series

The Dark Tower 7 - Listening not readingI’ve spent most of 2014 in the company of Roland Deschain of Gilead, his quest and his loves and his enemies. Eddie Dean. Susannah Dean. Jake Chambers. Oy. Cuthbert, Alain, Jamie, Susan. Sheemie. Poor Sheemie. Pere, Ted, Dinkie, Patrick. Flagg, Rhea, Mia, Mordred. Blaine. Dandelo. The Crimson King. And Stephen King.

Seven books. Thousands of pages. Almost 4,000 (edition dependent of course). But I spent the time with George Guidall and Frank Muller. Hours and hours and hours. I started in January 2014 with 1982’s The Gunslinger. I listened most days on my way to and from work (about 30 minutes each way). In the summer I listened at my allotment and in the park. I didn’t listen every day and I went about a week in between each book. I finished 2004’s The Dark Tower in late October. I’d only ever read the first two in the series previously, so had no idea how the story progressed.

  • The Gunslinger (1982)
  • The Drawing of the Three (1987)
  • The Waste Lands (1991)
  • Wizard and Glass (1997)
  • Wolves of the Calla (2003)
  • Song of Susannah (2004)
  • The Dark Tower (2004)

This is not a review and this does contain spoilers.

I’d never really listened to audio books properly before. I’d listened to cast dramatisations and radio adaptations (Hitchhikers…, Neverwhere, Midwich Cuckoos and others). I didn’t know if it was a worthwhile pursuit. When Jake, Eddie and even Oy died, I felt like weeping. When Susan was murdered, I was horrified. When Benny died, I knew it was a proper story. There was good and evil, success and failure. Anyone (with the probable exception of Roland) could die.

When you’re listening to audio books whilst driving and walking to and from work, you cannot take in every word. There are times when you’re necessarily distracted. I don’t think that matters. You don’t need to hear everything to understand the story in an audio-book. I appreciate that I spent many hours getting to know the characters in the series but if listening to the books was all surface, why did I get emotional when Oy sacrificed first his love of Susannah and then his life for Roland’s? Why when I got to the end did I feel empty? Oddly, I don’t want to listen to (or read) The Wind Through the Keyhole (2012) just yet. I want to leave Jake and Eddie and Oy dead (although not in the world Susannah found herself in) and I don’t want to revisit Roland knowing as I do now that Ka’s wheel has turned again.

The Dark Tower series is without doubt a wonderful story with plenty to say about love and death and friendship. About what is good and what is destiny and what is choice. I also enjoyed the whole meta-ness of it. One of the most explicit examples I’ve come across recently (see my post on Hodderscape for more on metafiction) I don’t think I would have every given it the time if I had to read it. The process of listening, even when doing other things (driving, sitting in a park, being distracted by binmen, crossing roads), is beyond rewarding. It isn’t subliminal, but you get the bits Gunslinger - Well, listening to it, anywayyou need to get. Story isn’t about individual words and clever complex sentences. Story shouldn’t need a thesaurus or attention to every single mark on a page. With no disrespect to the author who crafted and laboured over each word, a story is not about reading sentences on a page. A story is about the ride with characters who grow and change and learn and get to where they need to go to. If I didn’t care about Roland and his ka-tet I wouldn’t have enjoyed The Dark Tower and more importantly, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the audiobooks.

However, that all being said, if not for George Guidall and Frank Muller, who narrated the stories with passion and depth, again I might not have cared. An audiobook is about a story, characters and the choice of narrator. Not about the sentences or the words or the grammar. I don’t remember every detail about the story from Roland appearing in the desert in pursuit of Marten to his ascent of the tower, but I know how I felt when he loved and lost. And if that’s not the point of a story, someone tell me what is.

“All this happened, more or less.” #bannedbooksweek

My contribution to #bannedbooksweek 2014 is a simple list of my favourite quotes from 9 band books which I’ve read.

Persepolis

“In life you’ll meet a lot of jerks. If they hurt you, tell yourself that it’s because they’re stupid. That will help keep you from reacting to their cruelty. Because there is nothing worse than bitterness and vengeance… Always keep your dignity and be true to yourself.”

Clockwork Orange

“When a man cannot chose, he ceases to be a man.”

Fahrenheit 451

“There must be something in books, something we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.”

Lord of the Flies

“The thing is – fear can’t hurt you any more than a dream.”

Handmaid's Tale

“Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse, for some.”

American Pyscho

“We buy balloons, we let them go.”

Slaughterhouse 5

“And Lot’s wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human. So she was turned into a pillar of salt. So it goes.”

1984

“The best books… are those that tell you what you know already.”

Naked Lunch

“You see, control can never be a means to any practical end…It can never be a means to anything but more control…like junk..”

And so, if you want to read some of these , for free, check out: http://www.openculture.com/2014/09/read-14-banned-classic-novels-free-online.html 

“Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

On reading YA fiction: Shadowboxer by Tricia Sullivan

ShadowboxerTricia Sullivan is best known for her uncompromising visions of the future. She’s tackled far-future genetics, brain implants, AIs, consumerism and designer violence amongst many other tough topics. So it was a raised eyebrow that I picked up her latest, Shadowboxer, which seems at first glance to be set very much in the present, if not maybe tomorrow, and is demonstrably not science fiction. It is also very much of the genre currently labelled as YA (Young Adult).

YA is very topical at the moment. I’ve seen arguments (mostly on Twitter) both for and against adults reading YA books – in other words not the target market. Personally, I’m indifferent about it. I won’t chose what I want to read on whether something is labelled YA or not, or is currently following a trend. I read what I read because of recommendations, previous experience of an author, or if something looks interesting.

I’m a fan of Sullivan, and have read all her books, and so I wanted to read Shadowboxer for that reason alone, although the subject matter rather than the target market was more of a concern. I have no interest in mixed marshal arts. However, I’ve read several books from the point of view of a young woman and enjoyed some. Interestingly, a recent read, Terra by Mitch Benn, is from the POV of a 12-year-old girl, but that wasn’t targeted at the YA market.

However, the few YA books I’ve read in the past have led to a struggle. I haven’t enjoyed them for a number of reasons, although not because I couldn’t relate to the protagonists. SHadowboxer  is an odd beast for me to pick up.

We meet Jade, the first person narrator. We quickly learn that she’s a hot-headed young mixed martial arts fighter. The main personality trait appears to be that of a typical teen – she can’t control her life, despite an assuredness and control when in the ring. She’s confident, no, arrogant, as any young person on top of their game would be (“I’m really fast”) and while Sullivan has an immediate handle on writing her as a teenager, using what feels like the correct language, she doesn’t over-egg it. Jade appears to be fairly normal. Not a cliché. And so thanks to Sullivan’s writing, within a few pages, I’d dismissed my trepidation and soon became engrossed in Jade’s character. She’s very believable. But then, we’re suddenly in a forest with characters called Mya and Mr Richard. What’s going on? There’s still no real hints of anything science fiction or fantasy. Has Sullivan written a contemporary novel? Now, however, it appears that we’re in Thailand and there the clichés appear (Mr Richard especially talks in corny phrases). After a few chapters of What the hell is going on? we’re back with Jade and some exposition. In the first few chapters (up to about the Smart Phone chapter) it doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere much. This is just the story of a tough young fighter who must learn a lesson. Nothing particularly exciting. Soon after, however, things start to make sense. Now we have a plot coming together and the two strands of fiction begin to make sense.

So Jade is sent to Thailand to train and as a punishment, but before long she’s back in the US gearing up for the fight of her life. The cat she made friends with in Thailand is with her. A mysterious young journalist, Shea, comes into her life. It seems that her trainer, Mr B, might be into more than just fighting. Food is going missing from her flat. People are after a phone that keeps turning up. Some other people are found dead, apparently mauled by some large animal. And then there’s Mya. The little girl who can disappear into a house plant. This is a thick and complex plot, but it is always engaging, and you constantly want to know what’s happening and who is this and why are they behaving like that.

Sullivan weaves modern culture into the novel, with references to Instagram, Jennifer Lawrence and clothes brands, amongst others. This is a double-edged sword. The story is of the moment and therefore gives it a solid grounding, but will it date? If people read it in 30 years’ time, will they laugh at the tech? Maybe, but then isn’t that always the danger? Sullivan also uses emails sporadically as narrative devices. Not sure they work. There is a lot of ‘of the moment’ bits and pieces – the subtext if you will – in the story, and not just the tech stuff. There is a lot about racial and female inclusion. There’s movie and celebrity culture in general. Family abuse gets a mention. But when intersectionality pops up, I wondered if Sullivan had included a topical issue too many. Not that there’s any reason why these topics shouldn’t be discussed, however, it sometimes reads almost like a checklist of teen issues. Of course, many teens experience many and varied complex issues, so this may be exactly what the YA market wants to read about.

Jade is very much aware of who she is and her personality is the main strength of Shadowboxer. Despite her flaws and failings, she’s very much someone you enjoy getting to know and spending time with. When she loses a fight early on, she takes it in such good grace. I liked the fact that Sullivan didn’t feel the need to describe all of Jade’s training and fights in detail – that would have become boring fast. A book doesn’t need a training montage video. Once the fantasy elements kick in, with Jade in first person and Mya in third, the narrative reminded me of the juxtaposition in Sullivan’s Maul. Which is a good thing. The plot picks up and becomes more interesting. Clues come and go, and not all are as obvious as you might think. Not everyone or everything is who they seem. Once the fantasy elements is established, the story all comes together like a delicious and very satisfying pizza.

There’s a sentence Sullivan writes just before the final scenes which deserves a special mention. I laughed out loud. It mentions a superhero and an animal. Any more would be a spoiler, but when you get to it you’ll know. It just about sums up what this book is about. Enjoyable characters with depth, interesting and unexpected plotting, terrific and knowing writing. This novel features a 17 year old girl as its main protagonist, and the younger Mya as the second lead. Once I was into the story, which I was, it never crossed my mind that I was reading something specifically YA. I was reading a decent story with decent characters. So while it’s as far removed from Sullivan’s past science fiction novels, I didn’t disappoint. I’m clearly not the target audience, and although it’s far from perfect, it is a very enjoyable and original take on modern fantasy.

The original review parts of this post were first post here: http://geeksyndicate.co.uk/reviews/book-review-shadowboxer/ 

The History of Science Fiction Literature Challenge – The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (1895)

The Time MachineThere is deserved regard for H.G. Wells, and it is he more than anyone else who turned scientific romances or fantastic voyages of the 19th Century into what is called science fiction today. Incredibly, The Time Machine was Wells’ debut novel, built upon his earlier short story The Chronic Argonauts (1888). The Time Machine was written at the request of the publisher of the Pall Mall Gazette and published in serial form in The New Review. It was first published in book form in May 1895.[i]

I’ve read The Time Machine at least three times before this reading, but probably not for at least 15 years. The edition I read was the gorgeous yellow hardback Gollancz 50 edition, published in 2011. There is an introduction by Stephen Baxter, which I didn’t read, and there are no notes or explanations in this edition.

Time travel is a concept that’d been around for some time before Wells tackled the subject. Of course, we all travel forward in time (one second at a time, etc.). Others before him had written about going back into the past (Paris avant les homes by Pierre Boitard) or waking in the future (News from Nowhere by William Morris and of course, Rip Van Winkle). However, none had tackled the mechanics of time travel, and like Morris and others before him, this concept allowed Wells to explore his political views in a non-controversial, non-threatening forum.

The story begins with The Traveller explaining to the narrator and others, the concept of time. It has a similar tonal feel to Flatland – explaining time in terms of geometry. Very factual. Lures the reader in to what must be a serious treatise on the topic. Interestingly, this is not a tale narrated by its main protagonist, but is told in its (almost) entirety as a second-hand re-telling; a reportage, if you will. The other significant thing in the first couple of chapters is the naming of the characters. We have the Provincial Mayor, Medical Man, Psychologist, Editor, even the Silent Man. All except Filby. Which is odd.

It is difficult to read a classic and a novel that you’ve read and enjoyed previously without prejudice, but after only a dozen or so pages (in a relatively short book – this edition has 125 pages) Wells storytelling and imagination is already giant leaps ahead of his genre predecessors.

The Traveller arranges to meet with the narrator and others, but returns ‘late’ with them waiting for his news. Most of the bulk of the rest of the book is our narrator quoting The Traveller’s strange story. This is when Wells turns the previous genres of the utopian fantastic voyages and makes them science fiction. He takes the classic trope but adds elements of science. While the actual workings and mechanics of the time machine itself aren’t explained, the concepts of time travel are; while there is experimentation, observation and hypotheses (imaging that he may stop in something solid for example). The Traveller describes his journey into the future until he slows and is literally thrown into the future. It is 802,701 AD. Blimey. Take that William Morris (2003 indeed)! That leap of imagination is extraordinary for the time Wells wrote in.

Thus he meets the child-like Eloi and in particular Weena. He learns a little of their life-style and their language. It appears, on face value, to be a wonderful utopia in which they live, with no pain and an easy life. It is a communist life with no ownership. There is a dig, perhaps at specific works such as those by Morris, Swift, More, or a more general note to previous fictions, which in my eyes highlights the genius of Wells. He knows this is a fiction, so when The Traveller lands in utopia, he doesn’t find out everything. He only knows what he sees and experiences. “In some of these visions of Utopias and coming times which I have read, there is a vast amount of detail about buildings and social arrangements and so forth. But while such details are easy enough to obtain when the whole world is contained in one’s imagination, they are altogether inaccessible to a real traveller amid such realities as I found here”. Very clever writing.

File:The Time Machine (1st edition).djvu
Full scan of the 1st (1895) edition of H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine (public domain)

What is different here to previous fictions, however, is that everyone is weak. There is no need for strength. No-one works. No-one fights. There is no illness. So in a society where everyone is weak, but the same, strength isn’t required. However, as The Traveller soon discovers, paradise is far from perfect. We meet the Morlocks and here I think Wells rushed everything. It is a short (albeit serial in first production) story, but the speed of intuition from the protagonist based on little evidence is hard to relate to. Fine, so he’s a genius inventor who has made a working time machine, but the leaps of reasoning concerning the Morlocks’ origins could have done with a little more fleshing out. There is the proper social commentary which is Wells’ satire on the class divide of England at that time. But too quickly it’s over and narrative obstacles are soon overcome.

The coda, however, is completely unexpected and something no other writer had dared to consider. The end of the solar system, if not the universe (not just England, or Europe or the world). The Traveller goes so far into the future, what he sees is almost beyond the realms of imagination.

Of course, females (well, the one female character– Weena – which says everything) gets very short thrift. Without spoiling the plot, Weena’s fate is shockingly sad. Of the times for sure, but Wells was a meant to be a political socialist and generally inclusive. He could have done better.

It’s not just the ideas and styles which make The Time Machine a revolutionary story. The writing itself is brilliant, almost poetic (“You know that great pause that comes to things just before dusk?”). It’s very readable with interesting narrative and proper character development based on events, rather than storyline contrivances, and features the understanding of one’s place in the cosmos. This isn’t a narrow-minded viewpoint of one man’s vision of life at the time, but a holistic viewpoint of the universe we live in. It has an almost nihilistic quality that this is all going downward towards nothingness. I suspect Wells understood the second law of thermodynamics.

In the end, The Traveller informs our narrator that he is going back into time but three years later, he hasn’t returned. Perhaps, half a century before the Many Worlds theory of quantum physics, Wells understood what time travel could mean.

A brilliant piece of genuine science fiction with a couple of caveats, which would have taken it to the very top of the literature tree. Better treatment of Weena (and more women generally), and more observation, evidence and experimentation when The Traveller works out how the Eloi and Morlocks came to be. Still, so much more a proper science fiction story than almost anything that came between it and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

 

[i] Hammond, John R. (2004) H. G. Wells’s The time machine: a reference guide. Greenwood Publishing Group.