Socialism, Science Fiction and “The Time Machine”

HG Well’s “The Time Machine” is a classic science-fiction novel that set the tone of science fiction for years to come. But hidden behind the fantastical journey of an aristocratic explorer are ideas of a far less fictional science, which Well’s uses to put forward ideas of the evolution of society and the human race.

Wells was an ardent socialist and an active member of the “Fabian Society” a group that attempted to push for socialist reforms in a democratic and civil way. These socialist views come out strongly in the “Time Machine”, in his depiction of the futures two main dominant species, the Eloi and the Morlocks. When we are first introduced to the Eloi they are shown off as dainty, weak and carefree, mimicking social stereotypes of the upper classes. In contradiction to this however, the Morlocks are seen as aggressive, beast like creatures, preying on the Eloi as a food source. It’s from this contrast between the Eloi and the Morlocks that Wells own views on the class system, and the grim future that he believes it will progress down, are revealed. Well’s paints a  future where the social classes have split so far apart that they become two different species, and by having the Morlock as the predators Wells creates a scene of social revolution, where the lower classes, being unable to join the two classes together, have turned on the upper class, and now use them as a resource instead of the other way around, as stated by Taunton, “the various progressive attempts to overcome class antagonism, advocated by Marx, Fourier and Morris, have failed or been perverted”.

By utilizing these characters Wells has allowed himself to show a world where equality is never achieved, to give people the “worst case scenario”, in a way that is interesting and requires actual analysis, rather than just simple propaganda, connecting the reader to ideas behind the text in a much deeper way.

 

References:

HG Wells, The Time Machine. London: Penguin Books, 2012.

Matthew Taunton, Class in The Time Machine. Accessed: 7 April 2017