Epilogue: Time Machine Chronicles
(A sequel to The Time Machine by H. G. Wells)
It’s a no-brainer – for every copy of the original The Time Machine sitting on a bookshelf or in an e-reader, there should be a copy of Epilogue!
If you like The Time Machine, you’ll love this, and if you didn’t like the original (I found it OK but not great) – Epilogue offers originality and more.
Meshing with The Time Machine
I’ll start off with this section because arguably the original starts things off. Actually I contacted Jaime and asked him whether he advised reading the original (again) prior to Epilogue to ensure that I didn’t miss any key continuing threads. It turns out that Jaime received emails from readers saying that they had read The Time Machine first and then, after reading Epilogue, they re-read The Time Machine and enjoyed it even more than they did the first time.
Trust time travel enthusiasts to read the original after the sequel! 😉 Not wanting to miss anything, I started to (re)read the original, but to be honest I was too impatient to continue for more than a few chapters in so I dived into Epilogue.
This is an important point. Sequels are often stand-alone but use the same characters, settings and history (and future) as previous books so that they are tied in, but can also be read independently. And Epilogue is such a novel – it can be read on its own, as a continuation of the original, or – as other readers testify – an insight into the original. This latter point shows how truly interlaced and consistent Epilogue is with the original.
Epilogue doesn’t simply pick up from where The Time Machine finishes but begins some time before the original end providing additional depth and insight into what in the original would be considered to be secondary characters and events. In this way Epilogue envelopes The Time Machine.
The Time Machine is first introduced as a letter to the reader and a similar approach is adopted in Epilogue. This writing tool is wielded masterfully; in between journeys to the future we have narration by “Friend” or his son which serves as a third party interpretation of the events played out and witnessed by Traveler.
Jaime has done an incredible job in adopting the same style of writing as Wells. It doesn’t come over as forced or contrived, and is very natural. Every now and then there’s a line which really stands out adding beauty to the prose; something which I thought Wells misses. Character names are excluded and given as Traveler, Writer, Friend, etc.. Whilst their personalities are expanded upon in Epilogue, Jaime ensures that the character of the time traveler remains true to the original.
Epilogue depicts a future which is realistic and not far-fetched. But whereas The Time Machine is a dry political statement, Epilogue weaves social lessons within the plot, and for me these insights are more applicable and therefore meaningful in everyday life.
And the plot? Epilogue fills in the history between Traveler’s present and the Morlocks…it’s much fuller and richer than what Traveler had originally thought. Actually this is good continuation of the character and thought process of Traveler who within The Time Machine often readdressed his original ideas and thoughts about the things and events that he saw (like any good scientist! 😉 ).
As I alluded to in my review of The Time Machine it feel short as it was basically a drama. Epilogue picks that up, continues and refines, adding elements to what was essentially the elephant in the room which Wells didn’t acknowledge – the time travel adjective of the namesake of the book.
Being called “The Time Machine” and not having much to say about time travel is quite an omission; there’s only so much forgiveness I can give Wells for being the first time travel author (actually, for The Chronic Argonauts, not The Time Machine! 😉 )
So Jaime now faces a problem – how to keep in line with The Time Machine by ignoring all of the juicy aspects of time travel, but at the same time grabbing hold of that elephant by the ears and hitching a ride to the far future.
And here Jaime does that with splendour and elegance. Traveler and Friend have conversations about the nature and philosophy of time travel, its motivations and its ethics. The plot reveals how time travel paradoxes are resolved too, like how, for example, nature deals with two (time)Travelers at the same time.
“The [time]machine is a mechanical incarnation of a number of theories”
There are also interesting tangents to the plot which allow thought experiments (for us – it actually happened to Traveler); I love the idea of a faulty time machine and what that would mean for someone inside it Actually this example is done beautifully – and done so in a manner commensurate with the technology and mechanisms available at the time of its construction – no onboard computer failures or software updates as might befit a time machine from today’s technology, but mechanical.
Or what conditions are required to step out of a time machine whilst it’s in transit? Does the time machine need to match the speed of the ambient passing of time for fear of getting sliced by the passing seconds? Brilliant stuff!
Journey or destination?
Epilogue is one of those rare time travel novels which deals with both the nuts and bolts of time travel as well as an engaging story line. It’s the journey and the destination.
I was thinking that the time traveler is a man who’s in love with his machine, the journey and the destination. I remember a story Mum told where she went on a drive with Dad. Mum was destination orientated, and wanted to see places and experience them, whereas Dad was much more journey focused – the car and driving it.
Traveler seems to take on both interests. Of course, he designed and built his time machine, so clearly he has an interest in it. He uses it to go forwards (and back again) in time; he enjoys the benefits of his machine. But he’s also less of a point to point traveler simply enjoying the journey because he stops every now and them to observe progress and to learn more about the roots of the future. And he develops a clear bond with the indigenous people of the time.
I was trying to think of a parallel then I thought of a biker…out on the free road on a nice set of wheels, enjoying the view and riding though it and stopping every now and then for a while to take it in more closely.
Brief comparison with The Time Ships.
(Or: Is a chicken nugget really chicken?)
At first I didn’t want to mention The Time Ships (Baxter). For those of you more familiar with my likes, dislikes and pet peeves, you’ll know that Baxter’s writing style and ‘creativity’ irritate me. But I can’t really write a review of a sequel to The Time Machine without at least a reference to Baxter’s effort since it’s the “authorized” sequel. (Note that Baxter is English and tries to emulate H. G. Wells’ (English) writing style, he uses the American spelling…) Details, mate. Details.
My full review of The Time Ships is here, but in summary Baxter butchers and rapes the original, taking it and mashing it all up and reforms it into another one of his run-of-the-mill rehashed Baxter/Arthur C. Clarke clones. It’s just not chicken, and it doesn’t read like it.
If you’re torn between the two, go for Epilogue, it’s genuine, it’s original and an excellent read!
Rating * * * * *
Easy: Full marks!
Epilogue: An outstanding sequel to The Time Machine.
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Disclaimer: A copy of “Epilogue” was sent to me free of charge. Whilst I wasn’t asked to write a review, I chose to because I like writing about things I enjoy!
| 5* Excellent! | 4* Good | 3* OK | 2* Not good | 1* Crud |