The Chronic Argonauts

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"The Chronic Argonauts" is a short story written by H. G. Wells. First published by the Royal College of Science in 1888, it predates Wells's more famous time travelling novel, The Time Machine, by 7 years. Although Wells is generally credited with the popularisation of the concept of time travel by using a vehicle that allows an operator to travel purposefully and selectively, The Clock that Went Backward by Edward Page Mitchell was published in 1881 and involves a clock that allows a person to travel backwards in time.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

This brief story begins with a third-person account of the arrival of a mysterious inventor to the peaceful Welsh town of Llyddwdd. Dr. Moses 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.

The next part picks up with an unnamed "Author" character discovering the dazed Reverend Cook returned from unbelievable exploits after having been missing for three weeks. The remainder of the story is the Reverend's short retelling (again in the third-person) of the events that took place that night and the revelation that Nebogipfel is an "Anachronic Man" whose genius drives him to seek out a time more suited to his abilities.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Vandermeer. The Time Traveler's Almanac. TOR. pp. 154, 450. The Clock That Went Backward, released in 1881 in The Sun is the first time-travel story ever published, coming out several years before HG Well's The Time Machine. Although it is popularly believed that The Chronic Argonauts was the first fiction published with a time-travel theme, another story, also in this anthology, predates it by almost a decade: Edward Page Mitchell's The Clock That Went Backward