Episode 15: The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

Download Episode 15

In This Episode

The Book Evangelists discuss The Time Machine by H. G. Wells and share our attempts to adapt a public domain work into a new story.

Morning Chatter

Lissa left her house on the same summer vacation she planned months ago. Marian is finishing edits on her book! (And her reward will be even more edits on another project!)

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

The description of The Time Machine by H. G. Wells from goodreads.com

 “I’ve had a most amazing time….”

So begins the Time Traveller’s astonishing firsthand account of his journey 800,000 years beyond his own era—and the story that launched H.G. Wells’s successful career and earned him his reputation as the father of science fiction. With a speculative leap that still fires the imagination, Wells sends his brave explorer to face a future burdened with our greatest hopes…and our darkest fears. A pull of the Time Machine’s lever propels him to the age of a slowly dying Earth.  There he discovers two bizarre races—the ethereal Eloi and the subterranean Morlocks—who not only symbolize the duality of human nature, but offer a terrifying portrait of the men of tomorrow as well.  Published in 1895, this masterpiece of invention captivated readers on the threshold of a new century. Thanks to Wells’s expert storytelling and provocative insight, The Time Machine will continue to enthrall readers for generations to come.


The Time Machine: Problems and Pleasures of reading Classic Literature

  • What do we think about the Eloi and the Morlocks and Weena?
  • If you were imagining a utopia, what would it look like? Can there even be a utopia?
  • Using a frame story, two first person narrators, a narrator who is removed from the action 
  • What’s with that ending? What do we think happened to The Time Traveler?

Challenge: Reimagining Classic Works

How did we decide to do this again? Lissa was trying to fulfill a writing dare to write fanfiction. And wondered if reimagining classic works is a kind of fanfiction. Ultimately she wrote a short story imagining Kirsten Cohen (the mom from the early 2000’s television drama The O.C.) in 2020 awaiting the birth of her first grandchild during the pandemic and racial justice protests.

Is reimagining a story more fun to write? Easier? More challenging? 
What makes it more fun for the reader? Do readers like the puzzle to see what they recognize from the original? To see what the author has changed? The familiarity with the original concept?

Reimagining of classic public domain stories can be published, unlike fanfiction based on current characters.

New Podcast Segment: Bad Idea Corner and/or Slush Pile

It’s amazing to think about and imagine stories we don’t ever have to write.

Lissa’s reimagining of Treasure Island as a Modern Middle Grades Coming of Age story.

Jemma Hawkins lives with her mom in a struggling Bed and Breakfast, and across town her father runs a pirate themed miniature golf and go-cart destination. Jemma rarely sees her father, but after a mysterious visitor arrives, her mother encourages her to spend the summer at mini golf. As Jemma gets to know her father better, she uncovers a mystery based in her parents’ past, including the slightly creepy place they met, a large amusement park called Treasure Island. Jemma and several others travel to Treasure Island in search of the secrets from the past, hoping to improve the future for her family. The maintenance worker Ben Gunn helps Jemma find what she needs, and keeps her safe from those who would hurt her in order to prevent her from succeeding. Jemma is shocked to discover that as teenagers her parents were working in a group of friends who stole, argued and ultimately betrayed each other. One of them – a woman with striking silver hair – is now determined to get revenge, confident that she can still return home to her own growing family. Jemma can’t make everything right in the piratical mess that the adults have created, but she can find the secret treasure. Once her father’s past is redeemed and her mother’s future is reassured, Jemma can focus on her next adventure: high school.

Marian’s reimagining of The Great Gatsby in Space.

The glittering city of Agorith has long been a playground both for the established aristocracy of the galaxy and those who seek to join them.

Kase, the ambitious son of prosperous but provincial merchants, has arrived in the city looking to make his fortune. Using his family connections, he has managed to secure small quarters that overlook the truly fabulous homes of the rich. His neighbors fascinate him, especially one who seems to exist more in rumor than in flesh, Harlin.

When he visits his cousin, Lylah, he learns that her marriage isn’t a happy one and that her husband, Mazen, is a brutal man who uses his power to keep others in the population suppressed. Mazen decides to use his power to elevate Kase in Agorith society. He takes him to the inner sanctum of the city, a place even Lylah does not know about, where those with power can behave however they want without regard to morals or social norms. There, Kase meets the sycophants who feed the obsessive appetites of the powerful, including Talira, a woman who seems to know everyone and everything. Fascinated and repulsed, Kase finds himself drawn into this world.

His head filled with ever more fantastical tales of the mysterious Harlin, Kase finally attends a strange and fabulous party at his neighbor’s house. There he unexpectedly encounters Talira, who introduces him to the shadowy figure. 

As his friendship with Harlin grows, Kase is introduced to yet another side of Agorith, an underworld of dealmakers who seek to seize the power of the elites for themselves. Talira and Harlin tell Kase that this group of rebels seeks a more egalitarian society, based on merit and personal effort. The group promises that they are the cure for the excesses of the ruling class. Kase is persuaded to introduce Lylah to this world, where he feels she might have a chance at happiness.

For a time, it seems as though this vision of the future will come to fruition, but cracks start to appear. Kase slowly learns that Harlin’s story of his past and methods is not entirely true. Talira, who Kase has been falling in love with, is showing destructive tendencies, and Lylah has grown less enchanted with her shadowy new world as she contrasts it with the luxury of her unhappy marriage.

Desperate to use Lylah to destroy Mazen, Kase pushed her harder to fully turn against her husband. When Mazen discovers his wife’s second life, matters reach a boiling point. He lures the group to the inner sanctum of the city, where he feels he can assert absolute control. A fight ensues.

When an emotionally broken Lylah flees, she accidentally kills the daughter of the city’s ruler. Unbeknownst to Kase, Harlin decides to protect Lylah and help her escape. Mazen decides to use the incident as an opportunity to destroy Harlin by fingering him for the death.

Kase learns the truth too late. Harlin loses his chance to flee and save himself by waiting for the weak and faithless Lylah to come along. Instead, she returns to her gilded cage.

With the loss of the leader, the underground resistance crumbles. Kase recognizes that both sides within Argolith are inherently flawed, as was his vision of finding greater glory there for himself. He convinces Talira to come back home with him.

Although Kase has lost his innocence and his trust in the glittering promise of Argolith, he has found a partner in Talira. They board a transport to the provinces, where they vow to keep working toward a better future.

Coming Up

Next episode: Marian and Lissa read Old Man’s War by John Scalzi. Lissa discovered John Scalzi by way of Wil Wheaton narrating the audiobook of Ready Player One almost a decade ago. This led her to Redshirts, which turned into reading (listening to) almost all of Scalzi’s fiction.

Our Show Notes include mentions and recommendations, all linked for your convenience. What else would you like to see here? 

Music Credit: The music used during transitions in our podcast is adapted from: Jazzy Sax, Guitar, and Organ at the club by Admiral Bob (c) copyright 2018 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/admiralbob77/58382 Ft: geoffpeters

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