It is once again time to think about offering a nice edition of The Time Machine to your friends and family for the holidays....

Over the last few years, I have written several reviews on young reader adaptations of H.G. Wells's The Time Machine. Many of these adaptations were quite well done, but most were lacking in one way or another. Sometimes the text or the storyline itself was oversimplified, other times the illustrations were uninspired, poorly executed or too strongly influenced by previous works. There were exceptions of course, but they were few.

This year, however, a new adaptation of The Time Machine has been published that truly honours the original story in both text and images. Its release happily coincides with both the 115th anniversary of the first publication of the novel and the 50th anniversary of the release of George Pal's classic movie adaptation.

Published by Campfire - a recently born Indian publishing company - this young reader adaptation adopts the graphic novel format to tell its story and it does so while fully respecting Wells's original text - something I have seldom seen before in this format (the exception being the Pendulum Press edition of 1973 recently reprinted by Saddleback Publishing). But whereas the Pendulum Press edition mainly attempted to retell the story in simpler terms, Lewis Helfand's text also integrates key phrases from the Wells novel - phrases that the young reader will undoubtedly recognize when he eventually comes to read the original unabridged text.

The story begins as the Inventor expounds on his theory of the fourth dimension and demonstrates the miniature Time Machine. Rajesh Nagulakonda, the illustrator, spares no effort in depicting each step in minute detail as the Time Traveller first displays the tiny contraption in his hand and then on the table. We see the doctor activate the lever and the Machine disappear... Little of Wells's description is left without a corresponding illustration.

 

 

Although the design of the Machine in this adaptation is somewhat influenced by the one appearing in the George Pal movie adaptation, it serves mainly as a starting point for Mr. Nagulakonda's imaginative rendition. Furthermore, in this version, the Machine is almost entirely made of intricate brass components echoing Wells's description of a "mass of metallic castings".

As the story unfolds, one finds again that every detail is meticulously rendered. One sees the arrival of the Time Traveller in 802,701 amidst a hailstorm, the Machine turned over, the apparition of the enigmatic White Sphinx and the approach of the Eloi. Again one notes Mr. Helfand's subtle choice of excerpts from Wells's text.

Although a highly abridged adaptation, the storyline strictly adheres to the original novel and thus we see the Time Traveller's visit to the Palace of Green Porcelain, the pursuit by the Morlocks in the forest, the ensuing forest fire and the journey into the far future - thirty million years hence. Throughout, the quality and lavishness of the illustrations are amazing.

Everything about this edition is first class. Not only is the book printed entirely in colour, but both the printing quality and paper stock are superb.

In conclusion, Campfire's graphic adaptation of The Time Machine is one that any fan of The Time Machine would be proud to offer as a holiday gift or to acquire for oneself as Mr. Nagulakonda's colourful, whimsical and imaginative illustrations are bound to captivate young minds of any age and Mr. Helfand's adaptation serves as a great introduction to the Wells novel or as a reminder of its many memorable passages.

The book may be ordered through Amazon or directly from the publisher in India. It's also worth mentioning that this publisher has produced several other adaptations of the classics of literature such as by Jules Verne, Alexandre Dumas, Jack London, Lewis Carroll, Mary Shelly, Jonathan Swift, Robert Louis Stevenson as well as other works by Wells. A visit to the publisher's website is recommended: Campfire

Make sure that your little ones – like wee Jamie – find a book in their Christmas stocking or under the Christmas tree and, of course, make sure that this book is entitled “The Time Machine” !

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The Time Machine Project 1998 Don Coleman
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