Thoughts on H.G. Wells

You know when you’re reading a book and it references another book you’ve read and you want to go back and re-read the referenced book? That happened to me while reading Felix J. Palma’s The Map of Time and The Map of the Sky; based on H. G. Wells’ books, The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds respectively. Having enjoyed both of Palma’s books, I wanted to catch up with the classics. The last time I remember reading Wells’s books was high school, so naturally I was curious to see what I would think of the stories now. As it turns out, as an adult, I’m not a fan of Wells. I have fond memories of these stories, of being fascinated by the books, but no longer. What didn’t I like? Nothing specific about the stories themselves — the premises are wonderful — but it was the inconsiderate, uncaring, and obnoxious actions of the male characters. And, whenever (infrequently too) a woman shows up in the story, she’s relegated to being a slight character with no real value to the plot or the male characters. I know, that’s not a new revelation, but I was surprised by my immediate and intense reaction to it.

Before I turn what is supposed to be two short reviews into a rant, let’s get to the reviews themselves. I give you, The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds.

The Time MachineThe Time Machine

After settling in with The Time Machine, I soon realized I didn’t really remember much about this book. Or, at least my memories were fuzzy. I decided about half way through that I had a very big dislike of the Time Traveller. He was arrogant, uncaring, and prejudice. I get the arrogance, he wouldn’t have invented time travel without it, but the rest I could have done without.

We begin with a lecture of sorts where the Time Traveller shows his guests a small device that he claims can travel in time. He also claims to have built a larger functioning device that he plans to use to travel in time. Which he apparently does, meeting with two vastly different groups of humans — the Eloi and the Morlocks. The Eloi are a group of people so simple that he can’t believe this is what has become of the human race. In this same time, he also comes in contact with the Morlocks; a species that lives underground in dark tunnels. He does his best to categorize the humans he’s met but is disgusted when he figures out the relationship between the Eloi and Morlocks. When he’s able to escape and travels to his own place in time, he regales his contemporaries with stories of his travels.

There are so many fascinating aspects to this story. Time travel! But, Wells drove me crazy with his ideas of the human race. The pervasive idea that the Time Traveller was so much smarter, better shall we say, than the people he encountered was repulsive. It ruined this book for me. I can dislike a character and still enjoy a book but not in this case. I tried to become fascinated by the time travel but I was too far gone to get any enjoyment out of it.

The War of the WorldsThe War of the Worlds

When an unidentified object lands just south of London, residents are left dumbfounded. Could it really be aliens from Mars? When actual aliens emerge from the pods, all of London is left  running for its collective life as the aliens begin a methodical destruction of the planet. We follow the narrator as he makes his way back to his wife, suffering under the trampling of the Martians and witnessing horrors he never imagined possible.

The War of the Worlds is written as if it were a factual account of the narrator’s experiences. I liked that. It takes what could be a basic story and makes it feel very visceral. It did annoy me that I knew absolutely nothing about the narrator beside the fact that he was a scientist and was married. He does recount one part of the story as a second hand account from his brother but that’s all you get to know about him. I found that frustrating.

I did find this story much more interesting than The Time Machine and I think that had to do with the fact that there was a lot more action. In parts of The Time Machine, it felt as if little was happening but in The War of the Worlds, it was all action all the time. I do wish, and this goes for both books, that Wells had taken a few minutes to name his narrators; a pet peeve of mine. The intense dislike I had for The Time Machine didn’t appear when reading The War of the Worlds, in fact, I liked it better but if I had put this book down at any point, the possibly that I wouldn’t have picked it back up was there.

So, this brings me back to the start again. I’m not a Wells fan. Should I be? Anything I should consider?

The Time Machine
H.G. Wells
Atria Books
eISBN: 978145165886

The War of the Worlds
By H.G. Wells
Atria Books
eISBN: 9781451687989


Short Story Quick Reviews – The Gauntlet and The Queen’s Witch

The Gauntlet: A Kit Marlowe Short

By Karen Chance

Smashwords Edition – Free Nook download from Barnes & Noble

3.75 stars

Kit Marlowe is a vampire working for Queen Elizabeth I.  He’s sent to the Queen’s prison in search of a witch to help with his work.  He finds the woman he needs at the prison, a powerful witch named Gillian, and decides she’s fit for what the Queen wants but before he can get out with her, a magical battle takes place between coven witches and mages, and Kit is forced to fight alongside Gillian to get out alive.

Witches, mages, and covens battling it out for the right of survival and throw in a vampire for fun and well, just call it fun.  Why not?  When I read this book I was on a fantasy bender and also a short story run which is not my usual preference but something was really appealing about this.  An hour’s worth of reading for a magical battle was just what I needed.  Chance didn’t skimp on the magic and while it would have been great to have more information on how the magical system worked, there wasn’t much time for that but I was OK with it.  Kit and Gillian carry it off and though much is left unexplained, it was still entertaining.


The Queen’s Witch: A Kit Marlowe Short

Karen Chance

Smashwords Edition – Free Nook Download from Barnes & Noble

3.75 stars

The Gauntlet’s follow-up.  Having recently escaped from a prison stronghold with a vampire named Kit, Gillian is now a witch with a price on her head.  Kit, however, needs her once more promising to take Gillian and her daughter to safety after she helps him procure a jewel meant to poison the Queen.

I have a Nook and while browsing the Barnes & Noble online store one day I found these free downloads.  Both looked interesting enough so I took advantage.  Really, free books, how could one not.  🙂  This one is short, only 37 pages, but it was fun.  Gillian and Kit have an entertaining relationship and it being so short there isn’t much background here — more is in The Gauntlet which preceded this one — but I found myself liking the two characters more and more and wondering if I could find more shorts.  And then I thought I would even be willing to pay.  Gillian and Kit feel like fully developed characters and while the story does feel as if there should be more, it was a good few page for me.