The Time Machine, H.G. Wells

Cover ImageFinished 1-3-09, rating 4/5, fiction, pub. 1898

” I grieved to think how brief the dream of the human intellect had been.  It had committed suicide.  It had set itself steadfastly towards comfort and ease, a balanced society with security and permanency as its watchword, it has attained its hopes-to come to this at last…There is no intelligence where there is no change and no need of change.  Only those animals partake of intelligence that have to meet a huge variety of needs and dangers.”   Chapter 10

The Time Traveller built a time machine that can travel back to the past or race to the future, much to the skepticism of his friends.  They did not believe him even after one night he came home, disheveled and heartbroken, and told them mankind’s fate 800.000 years in the future.

The Time Traveller had met and been accepted by the carefree and loving Eloi, who spent their days dancing and laughing.  He rescued one from drowning, Weena, and they became companions.  He discovered his machine was moved and in his searching found another people, the Morlocks, who lived under ground and were as dark as the Eloi were light.

The Time Traveller was there eight days and his views changed daily, allowing Wells to expound on his own world view and the state of the human condition.  The story, while being interesting, also had real depth. 

I am surprised at how well this novel has aged.  This is the original time travel book and the sheer imagination and possibilities are impressive.  It is a short classic, well worth the time and suitable for all ages, although the vocabulary could be challenging for younger readers.

Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

CD Audiobook CoverFinished listening to 12-21-08, rating 5/5, science fiction, pub. 1985

Ender Wigginis a six year old boy who is chosen for Battle School, after his older two siblings failed to make the cut.  He is sent to  school with other children who are the best of the best, but he is quickly established as the brightest hope.   The alien ‘buggers’ had invaded earth before and it is of vital importance that the International Fleet trains Ender in time to save the world from another attack.  Although he only had six years with his family, he is haunted by loving memories of his sister, Valentine, and fear of his brother, Peter and they affect his performance in both positive and negative ways.

Ender is six when he enters battle school and 11 or 12 at the end of the book.  It is easy to forget his age until his vulnerability shines through in his wanting friends or wanting his teachers to like him and it is at these times that your heart breaks for Ender.  The weight of the earth has been put on his small shoulders and at many times he almost breaks from the pressure.

I loved this book.  It was psychological, political, philosophical and just plain fun.  This book is perfect for all ages.  I listened to the Special 20th Anniversary Edition and it was wonderfully done (Of course it was also 10 1/2 hours, so prepare yourself!).

This is the first in the Ender series.