The time machine

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German first edition by Felix Paul Greve , Bruns, Minden 1904

The Time Machine (English original title The Time Machine ) is a science fiction novel by HG Wells .

This classic of science fiction literature, published in 1895, is the first literary description of a journey through time into the future that is accomplished using a time machine . The novel was made into a film several times (see: The Time Machine and The Time Machine ) and is also considered a key work in the development of steampunk .


The time traveler, who is not mentioned by name in the novel, built a machine for himself towards the end of the 19th century, with the help of which he can move in the fourth dimension , time . He explains the principle of this device to a circle of skeptical friends in a very clear and understandable way for today's reader.

On his first trip into the future , it reaches the year 802,701. There he finds the world of two opposing species of living beings of human origin inhabited, which over the millennia have evolved from the two extreme social classes of Victorian England into two human races : the above-ground Eloi and the underground Morlocks (also Morlocks in certain German translations called).

The childish Eloi live seemingly carefree and happy, but completely unreflective and effeminate in a paradisiacal environment, look similar to today's people and all seem to be relatively young. At first it is incomprehensible to the time traveler who feeds and clothes them, since they obviously never need to work. On the other hand, a nameless fear of the dark, especially the moonless nights, seems to oppose their idyll.

The Morlocks, ugly, ape-like, light-shy creatures in the opinion of the time traveler, live in underground caves. During his research, he finds that they operate huge machines there and in this way enable and sustain the life of the above-ground Eloi. At first it seems to him that the Morlocks are the slaves of the Eloi, just as in the past the working class was exploited to ensure the prosperity of the upper classes. Gradually, however, he realizes that the relationship has now been reversed: The Morlocks keep the Eloi like farmers keep cattle, they take care of their physical well-being because the ogres need them as food. In the dark nights they get their meals upstairs.

From the year 802,701, the time traveler travels much further into the future. 30 million years in the future he sees in the eternal twilight of the still earth in front of a huge red ball of fire, which was once the sun, crab-like and, thousands of years later, ball-shaped, hopping creatures and realizes that humanity is now extinct.

After his return to the present, his friends do not believe the story, and he decides to travel to the future one more time, this time better equipped, including a camera to document his discoveries. He does not return from this trip.


The novel represents an indictment against class differences and against the oppression of man by man in the 19th century. In both popular cinema films of 1960 and 2002, however, this essential aspect was ignored. Wells uses this literary genre , in the British tradition, for example, from Jonathan Swift with his Gulliver's Travels , to satirically expose the England of his epoch and to question it socially . The novel is thus also one of the first of the genre dystopia (see Utopian literature ).

Film adaptations

Several film adaptations, both for the cinema and for television, have taken the novel as a template, but supplemented it with additional scenes and motifs or omitted essential motifs.

  • In 1949 there was a BBC production, of which only photos and scripts exist today; this live production was not recorded due to the technical possibilities at the time and the BBC's custom.
  • 1960 played Yvette Mimieux and Rod Taylor , the lead roles , directed by George Pal , see The Time Machine (1960) . Here Elois and Morlocks are the result of a distant world war; the return of the time traveler to the future is for his relationship with an Eloi and the teaching of the Eloi.
  • In 1978 Henning Schellerup produced a television film with John Beck and Priscilla Barnes in the leading roles, see Die Zeitmaschine (1978) .
  • In 1979 Escape into the Future was created , which combines elements from the novel with the character of "Jack the Ripper". Here H. G. Wells ( Malcolm McDowell ) is portrayed as the inventor of the time machine. The "Ripper" flees with the time machine into the 20th century and is pursued by Wells. With the help of the woman predestined for the next victim, the “ripper” can be rendered harmless. The lady follows Wells into the 19th century and becomes his wife.
  • In " The Return of the Time Machine " by Jürgen Karl Klauß from 1984, the machine is found in a Berlin antique shop from 1920. Your passenger is a refugee who comes from a dystopian future only a generation or two away and barely escaped a euthanasia program for the elderly.
  • In 1992 the Indian director Shekhar Kapur began a film adaptation that was never finished due to financial problems.
  • In 2002, Simon Wells , a great-grandson of the author, made a film with Guy Pearce , see The Time Machine . In this adaptation, the time traveler first tries to change the past for personal reasons. When he fails to do this, he travels the other way round, which is the result of a planetary environmental catastrophe, and enters into a relationship with an Eloi.
  • Also in 2002 a cartoon was released in which the inventor's son follows his father through time.
  • In 2011 Syfy produced a television film "Time Machine: Rise of the Morlocks"

The time machine also appears in various television series, for example a not yet published series about the young H. G. Wells as the inventor of the time machine or his repeated guest appearance in Superman - The Adventures of Lois & Clark . Other series in which H. G. Wells and / or his time machine appear include: a .: Doctor Who , G vs E, Wishbone, The Big Bang Theory , Power Rangers: Mystic Force and Warehouse 13 .

Audio books

Literary influence

In 1908 the popular German writer Carl Grunert wrote a sequel to Wells 'story in which a young man named Maurignac finds Wells' time machine and travels back in time with it. In this novella, titled Pierre Maurignacs Abenteuer (published in the collection “Der Martsspion”), HG Wells himself appears briefly. This story was published in the GDR in 1974 under the title “Das Zeitfahrrad” in the anthology of the same name.

In 1914, Wilhelm Bastiné wrote a humorous sequel to Wells' story entitled The Time Machine Found again ( Illustrierte Weltall-Bibliothek Volume 5).

Egon Friedell wrote a satire on the novel entitled Die Reise mit der Zeitmaschine (published posthumously in 1946). Later title: The return of the time machine .

In his novel Sir Williams Machine (The Space Machine) from 1976, Christopher Priest linked the events of the Wells novels War of the Worlds and The Time Machine .

In 1979 the novel The Night of the Morlocks: The Time Machine Returns (Morlock Nights) by KW Jeter , a sequel to Wells' work. In this, the time machine falls into the hands of the Morlocks in the future. With their help, they start an invasion of Victorian London. The book is considered to be one of the key works of steampunk .

Karl Alexander also published the time-travel detective novel Time After Time in 1979 with HG Wells and Jack the Ripper as protagonists. (See also Escape into the Future )

In The son of the sorcerer of Wolfgang Hohlbein 1992, the Morlocks and Eloi occur also. In this book they are visited by HG Wells and a few characters from the novel.

In 1995 a sequel by Stephen Baxter appeared with Zeitschiffe (Time Ships) . This takes up the original topic and continues it. It is underpinned with current scientific knowledge.

Ronald Wright tied in with Wells' time machine with his 1998 novel The Beauty of That Distant City (A Scientific Romance) . Here the protagonist finds the time machine empty and travels to a future that is closer in time.

The first six individual issues of the comic series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (1999-2000), summarized in 2000 as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 1 by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill, contain Moore's short story Allan and the Divided Veil (Allan and the Sundered Veil ) , in which Allan Quatermain meets the time traveler from The Time Machine .

In the novel The Spark of Chronos by Thomas Finn (published 2006), a time machine appears that is identical to the one from Wells' novel and is later acquired by Wells, who appears as a minor character.

In 2010 the novel The Map of Time (Mapa del tiempo) by Félix J. Palma was published . This work also makes use of the time machine and the person of its creator.

Web links and reviews

Wikisource: The Time Machine  - Sources and full texts (English)

Individual evidence

  1. The Night of the Morlocks: The time machine returns in the Clockworker
  2. The Night of the Morlocks on
  3. The BBC Production The Time Machine , Fantasy Review, Volume 3 Number 14, April / May 1949 , and from number 17 of TV Zone magazine , and Radio Times in the week of January 21, 1949.
  4. ^ Time Kid. In: The Time Machine Wiki . Retrieved July 5, 2019 .