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The Chronic Argonauts:  A Precursor to The Time Machine

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Last Updated: Engelbrecht

The Chronic Argonauts: A Precursor to The Time Machine

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Author: H. G. Wells
Publisher: Wildside Press, 2012
Original English publication, 1888
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Book Type: Novelette
Genre: Science-Fiction
Sub-Genre Tags: Time Travel
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Synopsis

In 1888, while a student, H.G. Wells published "The Chronic Argonauts," a 3-part story serialized in The Science Schools Journal. He would later return to the themes and recreate the story as the classic novel, The Time Machine. (After The Time Machine's publication, Wells tried to suppress "The Chronic Argonauts," going so far as buying all copies he could find and destroying them.) Today, the story is a rarity in its original publication, but it is hardly a classic work in the same vein as its successor novel. As a literary curiosity, it commands some interest, but do not go into it expecting anything on the scale of Wells's later, greater novels.

This brief story begins with a third-person account of the arrival of a mysterious inventor to the peaceful Welsh town of Llyddwdd. Dr. Nebogipfel takes up residence in a house sorely neglected after the deaths of its former inhabitants. The main bulk of the story concerns the apprehension of the simple rural folk who eventually storm the inventor's "devilish" workshop in an effort to repay supposed witchery. Nebogipfel escapes with one other person--the sympathetic Reverend Elijah Ulysses Cook--in what is later revealed to be a time machine.

This story has mainly been published in anthologies of Wells' work. Print-on-demand now makes it possibile for this curious little story to stand by itself.


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