The machinery that underpins much of Victorian civilization receives scant mention or else contempt in most novels and poetry of the age. Charles Kingsley in The Water-Babies (1863) is an exception, in trying to identify the principles of the machine with those of organic and spiritual life, and Dickens in Hard Times (1854) gives considerable if negative attention to the dehumanizing consequences of mechanized factories. Each explores two terms, the organic and the technical, that are the basis of discourse concerning the machine of the period. The new genre of scientific romance, however, gives more attention to the machine, and finds its apogee in H. G. Wells. In The Time Machine (1895) mechanized advance has produced biological decline: it is even possible that the time machine has created the degenerated future it finds; and the machine and the Traveller have tenuous relation to probability and the world. In The War of the Worlds (1898) the Martians have so developed their intelligence at the expense of other bodily organs that they have become largely dependent on mechanical aids; moreover, their degraded bodies fall easy victim to bacteria, the lowest form of life in what may be seen as the "Earth-machine," Gaia. Wells, in common with most earlier writers of the genre (though with more admiration for the machine), shows technology and biology at war. This dualistic strain, marked in the Victorian period, is also one that often distinguishes British from American attitudes toward the machine.
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