The Time Machine (H. G. Wells)

This book doesn’t hold up as well as The War of the Worlds or The Island of Dr. Moreau, but there are some astonishing moments, as when the Time Traveller passes forward to observe the world near-death:

The darkness grew apace; a cold wind began to blow in freshening gusts from the east, and the showering white flakes in the air increased in number. From the edge of the sea came a ripple and whisper. Beyond these lifeless sounds the world was silent. Silent? It would be hard to convey the stillness of it. All the sounds of man, the bleating of sheep, the cries of birds, the hum of insects, the stir that makes the background of our lives–all that was over. As the darkness thickened, the eddying flakes grew more abundant, dancing before my eyes; and the cold of the air more intense. At last, one by one, swiftly, one after the other, the white peaks of the distant hills vanished into blackness. The breeze rose to a moaning wind. I saw the black central shadow of the eclipse sweeping towards me. In another moment the pale stars alone were visible. All else was rayless obscurity.

Wells wrote at a time when the notion of genre was not solidified and the segregation of “artists” and “entertainers” had not occurred to the current degree. I think I will read Chabon shortly who has written on this topic. It’s interesting how one book will lead you to another, along strange and tangential paths.

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