I think H.G. Wells was brilliant, and he was giving us this!
He certainly was a writer that thought and wrote light-years ahead of his own time. The strangeness was that this is set in 1894. Two coincidences arise to mind. 1. Switch the 8 & 9.(We all know if you're a George Orwell reader, and you get it.)
2. The vast differences in tech between the 90 years.
Stop and let that sink in.
The particular edition that I read was also illustrated by Tom Kidd; which brought the story to life for me. This enriched the story all the more.