Karen Haber Reviews The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, Illustrated by Ale + Ale

The Time Machine, H.G. Wells, illustrated by Ale + Ale (Rockport 978-1-63159-728-2, $30.00, 208pp, hc) May 2019. Cover by Ale + Ale.

Yes, I know you, the reader, know all about H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine, one of the books that gave birth to the entire SF genre. But you need to know about a brilliant new illustrated edition issued as part of the Classics Reimagined series from Rockport, 124 years after the book’s first publication in 1895. Inventive, sophisticated artwork by the artwhiz duo Ale + Ale reminds us why we fell in love with The Time Machine – and time travel – in the first place.

The familiar story comes alive thanks to the slyly surreal illustrations created by photomon­tage, digital effects, collage, sketches, acrylics, and clever use of graphic and typographic ele­ments, including quotations lifted from the text. The use of greyed-down tints gives a hint of antiquity to the images entirely in keeping with its Victorian setting. Printed on thick, satin-finished paper, the hardcover volume is well-designed, from the elaborate foiled lettering on the cover to the fore-edge color matching the end papers. You might expect a dust jacket to complete the package, but it’s not really necessary thanks to the thick, embossed card stock of the cover.

The award-winning duo Ale + Ale are Ales­sandro Lecis & Alessandra Panzeri, two Italian illustrators living in Paris, and they are obviously comfortable working in many different media. (<www.morgangaynin.com/kids/ale-and-ale>). Their inspired take on this classic story brings exciting new energy to the work. They’ve even kidnapped H.G. Wells – circa 1910 – and inserted him into their illustrations as his own time-traveler. Their ingenuity makes this volume a very welcome revisit or an excellent way to introduce newbies to this iconic SF tale. It’s worth making room on your bookshelf for this gem. (In the spirit of full disclosure, let it be noted that I ed­ited a book for the publisher, Rockport, in 2011, Masters of Science Fiction and Fantasy Art.)

This review and more like it in the February 2020 issue of Locus.

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