I just found what I feel is a deeply unfair and lackadaisical review of The Time Machine: a sequel, written by Richard A. Lupoff on SF Site. It’s perfectly obvious he has hardly bothered to read the book. He gives a so-called summary of the plot that is a complete travesty. It’s just outright wrong in places, such as his claims that the sequel gets Weena “trapped in a walled city”. There are any number of SF subtleties, themes, repeating motifs and symbols, and plot twists in the book — and continuations from Wells’s original — that are simply not mentioned. Lupoff criticises only whatever garbled version of the plot his drastic skim-reading has managed to cobble together in his mind.

He is also very misleading when saying that the extensive scholarly bibliography at the back of the book “barely scratches the surface” of general Wells criticism — but that’s a bizarre criticism because it simply wasn’t the aim to pick up on every aside and footnote on The Time Machine in every work ever written on Wells. He fails to point out that the very comprehensive bibliography (PDF online) is tightly focused only on criticism that is clearly about The Time Machine and its themes. In omitting to mention this, the reader of the review is deliberately given the impression that the bibliography is somehow skimpy. It isn’t.

In the end it seems he’s not criticising the book, he’s just criticising the fact that he’s been made to glance at a book of an unfashionable type and write a hasty review on it. Probably he got a bit miffed when the Editor thrust a finely-crafted Victorian-style literary sequel under his nose. On this evidence, I’d say he’s become habituated to the sort of action-oriented ‘doorstopper’ SF novels, of the sort that can be read at speed and heavily skipped over. And I admit I do that myself, with Stephen Baxter and others. Publisher-driven padding of books has a lot to answer for. But there are some books that obviously demand a different and more literary type of closer and slower reading. The Time Machine: a sequel is one of them.

If there’s a consolation in the review, it’s that his summary of the plot simply isn’t the plot-spoiler he intended it to be — because he’s completely missed the key elements and revelations. Ho hum. Anyway… anyone fancy writing a real review of it? I’ll happily send out copies.

Perhaps I’ll do an audio book version of the book, so it can be appreciated word-for-word. Lovecraft certainly works excellently that way, because you can’t skip anything and thus get the full impact of the language and atmosphere.