Study and Discussion Questions for John Campbell's "Twilight"

In our previous classes, we suggested that SF is derivative.  That is, SF authors often draw on and extend the ideas and situations presented by previous authors.  This is certainly true with Campbell's "Twilight," which is without question derived from Wells's The Time Machine.   In that novel, Wells creates the Eloi, who apparently are the descendants of the aristocratic British classes. The Eloi have completely lost initiative, behave like children, and are raised as cattle by the Morlocks, the descendants of the British service class who live underground and prey on the Eloi in the evenings. Consider the following issues as your read and review Campbell's story:


  1. How does the narrative structure of "Twilight" parallel the club atmosphere format that we associate with "A Martian Odyssey" and The Time Machine?  Does Campbell extend the plausibility device implicit in the narrative structure?  How does the narrative structure encourage our willing suspension of disbelief in more complex ways than does the structure used by Weinbaum in "A Martian Odyssey"?
  2. How would you characterize the inhabitants of Earth 7 million years in the future?  How does Campbell represent Ares Sen Kenlin? Does Kenlin relate to any political/social ideas circulating in Europe and America in the 1920s and 1930s?
  3. What comment is Campbell making about the idea of a static utopia, a perfect future society?