Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
The Time Ships
Stephen Baxter
HarperCollins Voyager UK, 629 pages

The Time Ships
Stephen Baxter
Stephen Baxter was born in 1957 and was raised in Liverpool. He studied mathematics at Cambridge and got a PhD from Southampton. He worked in information technology and lives in Buckinghamshire, England. His first story, "The Xeelee Flower," was published in Interzone 19.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Origin
SF Site Review: Origin
SF Site Review: Longtusk and Deep Future
SF Site Review: Manifold: Space
SF Site Review: Longtusk
SF Site Review: Vacuum Diagrams
SF Site Review: Titan
Stephen Baxter Interview
Book Review: Ring
Book Review: Flux
Stephen Baxter Tribute Site
Stephen Baxter Interview

Past Feature Reviews
A review by David Maddox

It all began over one hundred years ago with a simple inventor and his fantastic creation, a machine constructed of brass rods and tubing, chronometric dials and a riding saddle. But this strange contraption had the ability to take its passenger backwards and forwards through the fourth dimension, time itself! Such was the premise of H.G. Wells' science-fiction classic The Time Machine originally published in 1895.

But what happened to the Time Traveler at the end of the tale? He tells his writer friend that he'll "be right back" and vanishes into history forever. Where did he go? What adventures did he undertake? Stephen Baxter's modern-day epic The Time Ships answers all these questions and more.

Originally published in 1995, at the hundred year anniversary of the original, Voyager Classics recently released an impressive edition of The Time Ships. In addition to a sleek new look, the novel features illustrations by Les Edwards, macabre artist best known for the covers of several Conan books.

As the story opens, the Time Traveler attempts to return to the years 802,701 AD to rescue his poor Eloi friend Weena whom he abandoned to the clutches of the vicious, cannibalistic Morlocks. But as he begins this second journey, he finds the future drastically different. Stopping in the year 657,208 AD earth's orbit is halted and the sun is surrounded by an immense sphere. A new breed of Morlocks, passive, intelligent and pursuing the never-ending quest for knowledge, inhabit this dark technological world.

Realizing his time traveling has eliminated the very future he wished to return to, the Traveler escapes these new Morlocks who want to prevent further paradoxes and alterations of history. But the Traveler is not alone, saddled with a strange and inquisitive Morlock named Nebogipfel who accompanies him through the resulting journey.

What follows is a trek through ever changing new realities of history; a domed London in 1938 where the first World War still rages, the beaches of the Palaeocene era in which our two heroes must struggle to simply survive and even a universe where humans have occupied the earth for fifty million years! The scientific concepts of the book are filtered through Nebogipfel. It's amusing to picture this little Morlock expounding such innovative theories of alternate and multiple universes, but he is the perfect logical foil for the emotional Time Traveler.

The friendship that develops between the Traveler and Nebogipfel feels so real that it's easy to forget one is a light-sensitive, pasty Morlock. The Traveler must come to terms with his own prejudices against his companion's species, while the Morlock, who is far evolved though strangely loyal, humorously accepts his human companion's inferiority.

Baxter more than understands the world Wells created even making mention of the Selenites from Wells' First Men in the Moon as well as the basic principle of class systems, which Wells was commenting on in the original novel. The Traveler is well written as a man of the 19th century with his opinions and intolerance but Baxter lets him grow as a character, stripping away societal precepts to evolve him with the story.

The Time Ships is a brilliant piece of work, painting a picture so vast and grand in scope that it leaves the reader breathless at the possibilities of existence itself. As Nebogipfel says "There is no rest. No limit. No end to the Beyond -- no Boundaries which Life, and Mind, cannot challenge, and breach." Grab a copy and prepare for a journey beyond anything ever imagined or perceived.

Copyright © 2002 David Maddox

David Maddox
Science fiction enthusiast David Maddox has been many things, including Star Trek characters and the Riddler in a Batman stunt show. He holds a degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University, and has written several articles for various SF sites as well as the Star Wars Insider. He spends his time working on screenplays and stories as well as acting in any venue he can. Residing in Los Angeles, he continues to be part of this wacky business called show.

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or anything else worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide