Howard Loring (AKA “TimeJumperA1) is the author of the “Epic Fables” Beyond the Elastic Limit and Piercing the Elastic Limit, as well as “Tales of the Elastic Limit”. In this author interview we find out a little more about the man behind these books…
Douglas Adams’ Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy famously proposed an answer but the question wasn’t well-framed. Henry Kissinger asked whether anyone had any questions for his answers.
Seemingly questions are less important than answers, though the Old Man in Howard Loring’s Piercing the Elastic Limit: An Epic Fable would disagree. He was keen for his visitors to frame the ‘proper question’ and by doing so their brainwaves could be aligned in a certain way.
On one hand I feel I under pressure to ask Howard the ‘right’ questions. But if that’s the case then what will that be doing to my brain? On the other hand, Howard may already have the answers but needs the questions to present them. And in this case then this makes the task of me asking my questions a mere action of duty and fulfilment of destiny.
But only if Howard’s answer to my first question is positive. So let’s see…
Do you have any answers for my questions?
Howard: Certainly, fire away
Why are you so interested in Time?
Howard: Time defines us; it frames out reality and permeates our entire existence. So what’s not to love?
And you write books on the elusive Elastic Limit of Time; what is that exactly?
Howard: Actually it’s two things; in my Epic Fables the phrase Elastic Limit is Jargon, the term used to describe the concept that one must understand and implement in order to manipulate and maneuver within any given Timestream, but it’s also a Metaphor for the individual human imagination, so each title really has a double meaning: the novel BEYOND the ELASTIC LIMIT propels you Beyond your imagination, and the novel PIERCING the ELASTIC LIMIT blows your imagination away, while TALES of the ELASTIC LIMIT contains twelve short stories intended to feed your imagination.
That’s the one that can be read backwards?
Howard: Well, it can be read in three ways, actually: At random for each chapter is just a story about Time, or the chapters can be read in sequence for the History of Humanity but, as Time is linear, it’s the same thing from either direction, so the chapters can also be read in descending order for the story of how Human History came about. And I think that’s a nice twist on the genre.
I also see that you’ve subtitled each of your Time Travel works Epic Fables. Why, what are Epic Fables?
Howard: Well, Literature has jargon also, terms used within the discipline that have a specific meaning; for example, a Novel is not a Short Story, etc., but then again, each of these can be presented as either a Fable or an Epic, and my books are both.
Howard: Fables are usually simple stories with a moral or a moral lesson, and my books while being layered and interwoven are all simply written, and Epics hold a universal appeal, with a narrative to which anyone can relate.
So what makes your books Epic?
Howard: As I said, they are universal, or rather deal with universal human concepts: in Epics the plot is in reality secondary, it’s the changes the characters go through that’s important, so it’s not a ‘what they did’ story but rather ‘who they became’ because of what they did. This makes them relatable, for most everyone can empathize given most at some time have lost in love, been disappointed by life, hated their job, boss, co-worker, neighbor or even family, and the very same emotions and conflicts such circumstances engender have been felt to some extent by all of us. After all, universal concepts, by definition, are held by everyone.
Your books often contain real History. Is this important to you?
Howard: Write what you know, yes? And the great thing is that many people who don’t as a rule read History love the historic nature of my Epic Fables, and are surprised by it, some blown away by it, for it’s not just boring dates or overblown explanations but real life people and situations, and this fact intrigues them, a good thing, I think.
Shakespeare famously questioned the fragrance of a rose if it were otherwise named. You place a lot of importance on the names of your characters in your first novel “Beyond the Elastic Limit” which are descriptive and interestingly, vary in time. Google tells me that “Howard” means “Noble watchman”. Is this a reference for your affinity with time, or something else?
Howard: Duh? It’s my name, but I will gladly take the inference, thanks.
You mention in “Piercing the Elastic Limit” that music communicates more deeply and less ambiguously than speech. What would be the backing soundtrack to your novels?
Howard: Ha, I’ll leave that to the movie producer, but my books do cover how language has meaning through symbols, and in order to communicate this meaning a consensus must be reached or understanding is impossible. Music, on the other hand, is a direct connection needing no consensus, and it can touch you in ways that may never be understood: Music can make you happy or sad, create feelings of joy or sorrow, and such examples are endless, so yes, music is internal and personal and, I think that’s why it touches us as deeply as it does.
Your novels can be read independently and in any order. Did you write them / parts of them in the order that they’re printed? Is there a preferred reading order?
Howard: As each Timeline is in itself a Current Reality, I had no wish to write sequels, so yes, each book is independent in that it needs no backstory, and therefore you can read them in any order. However, I did wish them to relate and even explain each other, and for this reason how exactly they do so depends on the sequence in which they are read, another interesting twist, I believe.
Is there a difference between time jumpers (as in your novels) and time travellers?
Howard: All of the books explain that the original purpose of the machine was benign, simply to view other eras and not to physically Time Travel, as that wasn’t its intended function. Given the operator ‘jumped’ between different Timeframes to view and study them, the term was apt, and so yes, in my scheme, once the existing machine and software were altered to permit this ability, Time Travelers and Time Jumpers are indeed the same.
I love your idea of two technologies which work together to allow time travel / jumping (the elastic limit and the time fistula). I was also impressed with how you involved some biological (non) effects where time jumpers didn’t age during a jump. Do you see technology or biology as being more dominant when it comes to time travel?
Howard: I simply wished to avoid the normal pitfalls of most Time Traveling tales i.e. Paradox and so forth, and as I write Fables, I do this employing a minimalist fashion, in very much a less is more approach. Most of the particulars are simply already in place, and so I needn’t spend time introducing or explaining them, which seems to work given the feedback I receive .
I read on your Facebook page that you have an interest in astronomy. Are you a planetary observer or do you prefer the deep sky objects?
Howard: I observe everything, but it takes different instruments to view both near and far, so I’ve many telescopes of various designs and sizes, some of which I’ve reconditioned (pictures on my Facebook Fan Page) and here’s also a video that shows a few of them, in fact I’ve many videos on YouTube dealing with the Elastic Limit of Time.
Water seems to feature prominently in both “Beyond the Elastic Limit” and “Piercing the Elastic Limit” – either as a resource or as a component in a meteorological event. Would you rather have a submarine, an aircraft or a spacecraft?
Howard: Well again, water is certainly a universal thing concerning the human life experience. As such it’s been used often in Myth, and from many cultures, as bread has been, and that’s why I also use them, as well as many other ubiquitous human connections. But to answer your question, I’d have to pick spacecraft, given my Time Machine would certainly qualify.
Yes, you always employ Myth; is there a particular reason for this?
Howard: Myth is a very ancient art form; it was honed through the ages long before written language, and for the most part it connects on a subconscious level, employing prototypes that are easily recognizable in a much broader sense. To this end, Myth can certainly be used to convey the backstory or move the action along. This literary device ensures a ‘page-turning’ read, and it’s also great fun to write.
When you’re sitting on a train trying to read, what’s your order of annoyance (most annoying => least annoying):
(a) a bunch of noisy school kids
(b) their teachers who don’t tell them to settle down and let people read in peace
(c) old ladies who put on too much perfume
(d) old men who nose whistle
(e) teenagers listening to loud music on head phones
(f) people who eat noisily / stinky food (without offering you any)
(g) realizing you’re not sitting on the train at all, but still in the platform waiting room because you were so engrossed in your book you didn’t notice the train arriving.
Howard: Well, sorry there; none of the above I’m afraid, given I no longer travel by such a conveyance: I instead use my imagination, which so far hasn’t broken down or run late, but who knows what the Future holds? Oh, wait: just read my books to find out.