Thursday, 3 August 2017

"That Little Masterpiece"

A handful of Poul Anderson's stories were revised for later editions but the vast bulk of his enormous canon we read as it was originally published whereas HG Wells' The Time Machine was endlessly revised and rewritten both before and after publication which is why it became what JB Priestly called "...that little masterpiece." (Barely discernible in the image.) Wells should have written less and better whereas Anderson had the capacity to write much and good.

Like Anderson, Wells combines speculation with action-adventure. The Morlocks are the ultimate lurkers in the dark. And what a contrast between the Time Traveller's civilized dinner parties at Richmond and the Eloi's informal frugivorous meals in 802,701 - this highlights the adaptability and plasticity of humanity.

9 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I'm glad Anderson only revised a few of his stories and novels. I believe that he wrote so well that most of even his earliest works stands up well even now.

Respectfully, now I have to disagree. While there is adventure in THE TIME MACHINE, it does not seem PROMINENT to me, my view being that Wells "didacticism" (to use Stirling's word) gets in the way of adventure. In my memory the impression I have of Wells work is of how HEAVY they seem when compared to those of H. Rider Haggard and ERB.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
There are exciting fight- and chase-scenes with the Morlocks, though.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Yes, but none of the Morlocks stand out as INDIVDIUALS, we don't see any Morlocks as person. Nothing like, say, Norman Arminger, Count Ignatieff, or William Walker, to name three villains from Stirling's works.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
No. I think they have sunk below the level of individuality.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And I argue that for a writer to create characters lacking in personality and individuality is a LACK, a flaw.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
But the Morlocks had devolved! Wells has human villains in other works, e.g., the Invisible Man.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Granted, that the Morlocks had "de-evolve," then their faceless lack of individuality makes sense. All the same, would an individual Morlock be totalliy empty of all sense of the "self," of being an " I "?

Sean

Anonymous said...

Kaor, All!

It's been a long time since I read "The Time Machine," but if I may make a suggestion, Morlocks may not be presented as individuals, but that doesn't mean that they aren't individuals. To the Time Traveler, or to an Eloi, Morlocks may be dangerous man-eaters without noticeable personalities of their own, but an individual Morlock might still have a sense of self, and might in some circumstances speak and act differently from another Morlock.

Best Regards,
Nicholas D. Rosen

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Nicholas!

Your suggestion is a reasonable one. Problem is, we don't know enough about the Morlocks to settle this question either way. All we know about the Morlocks is what we see in THE TIME MACHINE, and they do come across as faceless and impersonal at best.

Sean