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Book Review

Book Cover

The Time Machine & The Island of Doctor Moreau
(Folio Society Hardback)


Author: H. G. Wells
Illustrations: Grahame Baker-Smith
Publisher: The Folio Society
RRP: £34.95
Click here to buy
Publication Date: Available now

The London Folio Society republishes seminal science fiction writer H.G. Wells’ classic novel The Time Machine, first published in 1895. The format is hardback, with a protective slip-case. It is bound in blocked buckram and set in Founders Caslon. There are 288 pages on good quality heavy paper. The book contains an attractive Frontispiece and seven illustrations by artist Grahame Baker-Smith. There is also a new introduction by well-known science fantasy writer Michael Moorcock. The Island of Doctor Moreau – also by Wells – is included in this edition. These are two of the most ground-breaking novels in history, for their sheer originality and talking points.

In The Time Machine, a Victorian scientist builds a machine which takes him to the far future date of 802,701 AD. The peace-loving Eloi are descendants of the human race, but they are afraid of their own skins and particularly the darkness below ground. Here dwell the Morlocks, the other half of the old human race. When his time machine goes missing he is obliged to enter the darkness. This is a great story, well told. It originated the phrase ‘time machine’ and began endless debates surrounding the actual depiction of time, whether it can be manipulated, and the possible consequences of doing so.

In The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), Pendrick survives a sinking ship when he is picked up by another vessel taking supplies and animals to a remote island. Here he is abandoned to confront the disgraced Moreau, who attempts to justify extreme vivisection experiments on people and animals. Alongside Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this is the ultimate science versus morality tale, which remains highly relevant today with cloning and genetics a reality.

Herbert George Wells was born in Bromley, England (not a million miles from my humble abode). He was known as the Grandfather of Science Fiction. He studied under the renowned biologist Henry Huxley. He also wrote The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898), First Men in the Moon (1901), and The War in the Air (1908). Additionally, he wrote a number of fiction short stories. Less known are his manifestos about society and maintaining peace. He died in 1946, pleased I’m sure that he got to see the end of World War II.

The two novels depicted here undoubtedly made the most impact in terms of getting the world talking. I love the formal and gentlemanly prose of the late 1800s and early 1900s. No latter day whizzes and bangs here. But then that really is the point. They are classic and shouldn’t be changed. This is a very well-presented book. The fact that only one illustration represents The Island of Doctor Moreau makes me think this second story was added as an afterthought. I’m simply glad it was added at all.


Ty Power

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