When a turn-of-the-century scientist travels into the distant future in his time machine, he expects to find progress and superior people. But instead he discovers a world in decay.
Public Domain ©2013 Listening Library
“[Wells] contrives to give over humanity into the clutches of the Impossible and yet manages to keep it down (or up) to its humanity, to its flesh, blood, sorrow, folly.” —Joseph Conrad
Sir Derek Jacobi’s reading is well modulated, but lacks passion. All is read in the narrator’s voice with no transfer to more excited tones when the story is being told, through the writer, by the traveler. So there is no exultation, and no anguish; we are left with a character who seems to shrug his shoulders at tragedy.
This lends to an unremarkable telling of a classic story. Worse, the reading is the only mechanism for passing over some of the more modern concerns with the content; concerns that should just pass by because the action drives on.
It is hard not to let this flow over onto the star ratings for the book as a whole. I’d prefer to refrain from giving for “Overall” and “Story”, but Audible won’t let me.
In a sense, this is well “read”, but the wrong reader. I feel Sir Derek is using his “In the Night Garden” narrator’s voice.
I most enjoyed revisiting this classic science fiction tale. Its speculations on the future of human civilisation of course tell us things about our own times, at least as HG Wells saw them. This book's main concern is not with the Time Traveller's fantastic adventure, but with the possible evolution of society (and physiology) should we manage to survive our age's bellicosity and learn to solve the economic problem of scarcity.
Sir Derek does magnificently as the first person narrator and main actor in the story, the Time Traveller. His reading conveys all the astonishment, alienation, despair, condescension and curiosity the character experiences as he inhabits this strange future.
Unlike another reviewer of this audiobook, I think the reading is extremely satisfying. I certainly can't fathom why the other review gives only one star!
The Time Machine is a great book, spendidly read in this recording. Incidentally, if you enjoyed this story, try the Time Ships by Stephen Baxter. It's an authorised sequel by one of my favourite authors in all genres.
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