Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Time Machine reflection

If the Time Machine was suppossed to carry some sort of warning or prediction for the future of the human race, it was very difficult for me as the reader to pinpoint exactly what that was. As I was reading I kept being reminded of a comment made during our first class when we discussed what made science fiction true science fiction and differentiated it from other genres. Science fiction has to be unbelievable but believable at the same time. It cannot be so "out there" that the reader can no longer identify with it because then whatever social message the author wants to get across is lost in translation. This, I feel, holds true to some extent with the Time Machine. The future world of the Eloi and the Morlocks and the way the world is described by the Time Traveler is too unbelievable, to improbable to the reader that Well's message about society can be somewhat hard to relate too. It seemed that the human race had not only reached perfection but had started to devolve into a lesser species. While it seems that Wells is warning us against that fate, it is unclear what he wants us to do about it. It is too unrelatable to the reader. On the other hand Lasswells, "The Garrison State" serves as a much better warning to a reader because, as you read it, you can see evidence of what he is talking about in modern day society. It is not a far fetched as humans devolving into crabs, evidence and elements of the "garrison state" can be identifyed, which helps it to serve as a better and more realistic warning to the reader.


Chris said...

This is all about context, though. For Wells' time, as we discussed, this version of human biology wasn't outside the realm of scientific possibility. In fact, it was encouraged by some scientists and many industrialists: that we could essentially change the genetics of humanity by extreme Social Darwinism. I believe that The Time Machine certainly fits into the believability of its time, which is what we should be judging it against. We must trust Wells, to a certain extent, to not just "make stuff up."

Scott said...

Moreover, this vision of the future was plenty believable in 1895. There are a lot of ideas introduced in the past that we feel to be hokey or unrealistic today, but this might be more a result of our greater education and exposure to the ideas of the world. It certainly takes a lot more to shock us than it used to, as a society.