Author Interview: Howard Loring (Elastic Limit)

In this author interview we find out more about Howard Loring – creator of Epic Fables and Tales of Elastic Limits.

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…

Howard Loring, Epic Fables of The Elastic Limit

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.

How so?

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.

The Noble Watchman?

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.

Become a fan of Howard Loring!

You can follow Howard on his website, on Facebook and on Twitter (@TimeJumperA1). Howard’s novels are available on Amazon.


Review: Beyond the Elastic Limit (Howard Loring)

Review: Piercing the Elastic Limit: An Epic Fable (Howard Loring)


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Review: Piercing the Elastic Limit: An Epic Fable (Howard Loring)

Piercing the Elastic Limit: An Epic Fable (Howard Loring) is effectively a series of stories with a common thread and some common characters running through them. This novel is loaded with ideas to get the time travel enthusiast thinking!

Piercing the Elastic Limit: An Epic Fable

Having gone Beyond the Elastic Limit author Howard Loring now helps us to pierce it in the second in the series: Piercing the Elastic Limit: An Epic Fable.

Beginnings (or endings)

Piercing the Elastic Limit: An Epic Fable

Piercing the Elastic Limit by Howard Loring is effectively a series of short stories – though “series” may not be the right word given that Howard’s true book of short stories,
Tales of the Elastic Limit, can be read in any order. It sounds like an interesting idea, though not a premise I’d feel like trying out given the annoyances of e-book formats!

(Actually on that note, take a look at this screen shot – the page numbers insert themselves into the text which can sometimes make for some funny reading! See this shot on page 73!)

Piercing the Formatting Limit
Piercing the Formatting Limit

The set up reminds me of the Cloud Atlas movie which spans across a number of time eras with different characters but who seem to follow a similar ‘template’ of existence (and acted by the same actors / actresses). This is achieved in the novel through common themes and characters – but crucially it’s the differences which are central to the plot, so keep an eye out!

The time travel element

I’m going to jump straight into the time travel element, and rather fittingly, mention that we have time jumpers in place of time travellers. This already begins to give us a clue about the nature of the movement through and within time in this novel.

Actually we’ve already been introduced to the model of time and the technology behind it in Beyond the Elastic Limit; the time line is projected into the past within the bounds of the elastic limit. This is similar to the River of Time. The “time fistula” is a separate technology which opens up a window to view the past – like placing a rock in a river and seeing how the water flows differently around it.

Crucially, the future cannot be viewed, and viewing the past doesn’t modify the time line itself (which reminds of me the Deja Vu movie where Denzel Washington peers into the past through discreet time windows).

The crux is what happens when the observation window turns into a door.

Various groups of characters have access to the appropriate technology – a machine which distorts time with an electromagnetic field. Some characters can only travel in time; others are able to hold and restrain time completely.

One particular feature I liked is that the time jumpers don’t age when they’re outside of their own natural timeline. (Their metabolism doesn’t react to their surrounding – you may recall that I rather like the crossover of time travel into biology – for example, watch the Echo Back – Time Travel Virus video and read my thoughts on biological time travel underneath).

It did get me thinking again about what time is it in a time machine anyway? When the whole time machine goes, say backwards in time, do the people inside still age as the internal time still goes forward? They can’t be ageing backwards because then they may regress to child-hood – even non-existence – if they’re traveling to a time before their birth. Or is time held constant? But if this is the case then there’s no event as all events need time?

Writing style

I really like how Howard’s writing style encapsulates many epochs. For example, there’s a description of a peice of music which has just been written; in the future this would be considered to be great, but that was decades away from now and today it wasn’t recognised.

And I must quote this:

“They’re in the past,” he said to reassure her. “Once it’s done it will already be over, and long ago…”

Actually, whilst I’m busy quoting I’m going to do another one – and probably use it at several more moments along the time line of my forthcoming life. It says much more elegantly than I can my disinterest in history and would rather set my eyes on the future:

“What he wanted was insight into the future. The long dead past,no matter how glorious,would do him no good.”

As I briefly mentioned earlier, similar characters help to tie all epochs together. In particular there’s the ageless “red haired girl” with her enchanting and all-knowing smile. Other than her hair there’s very little physical description of her – but her presence is powerful!

My only negative vibe from Piercing the Elastic Limit lies with the closing section where I became quite lost. Things seemed to be coming together but there was a lot of flitting about between different characters and I couldn’t make the connection. I didn’t understand the significance of a musician with a mangled hand and / or some children for example. Given the quality of the writing beforehand it’s more than likely that this is my own failing…


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Star ratings:
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Review: Beyond the Elastic Limit (Howard Loring)

Beyond the Elastic Limit (Howard Loring) is fantastic time travel nuts and bolts stuff with a time travel methodology built around an interesting model of time!

Beyond the Elastic Limit had me confused and impressed at the same time. I suppose this is suitably paradoxical given the nature of time travel!

Beyond the Elastic Limit (Howard Loring)

The novel is centred around a solid model of time; something happens to disrupt it and characters scuttle about to make amends.

The details of this latter aspect are largely given in conversation and need a lot of attention – by the time I got to page 200 I realised that I had a good handle on the time travel element but not the plot or the character stuff around it!

Writing style

I found it difficult to keep track of the plot – though I hastily add that I don’t think this is due to bad writing. (And at the risk of sounding conceited I’m going to point the blame away from myself as a dumbo reader too). It seemed that during the week that I was reading Beyond the Elastic Limit all external factors contributing to a displeasurable reading experience came into play.

My commuter train, home of my reading pleasure, was plagued by noisy school kids. Dodgy formatting from PDF to ePub format meant that my ereader had a nasty time, and a nosey cold (probably caught from one of those pesky school kids) had me reaching for my tissue every 20 seconds to avoid dripping on said ereader and creating an electrical shortcut 🙁 .

About three quarters of the way through I thought to be fair I should go back and start again in a more healthy and child free environment. But I ended up skim reading out of familiarity, so I jumped back forwards (I think I’m allowed to say that…) to where I was before.

So to reiterate here: the writing is good quality!

One aspect I particularly like is Howard’s eye to detail when it comes to body language. I think many of us have probably heard of the idea where body language accounts for 55% of all communication. It turns out that this is slightly misleading but the point remains that it’s hugely important – not just in communication, but also in providing insights into thoughts, feelings, mood and atmosphere. It’s done superbly!

Time travel

Beyond the Elastic Limit is in some ways an elegant version of Time’s Eye by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter. In this latter novel there are segments of non-sequential time which for some reason are now adjacent to each other. It’s pretty much a writer’s playground where they ask “wouldn’t it be fun if we could write about astronauts meeting Genghis Khan”, and other such scenarios. It’s a transparent set up which goes nowhere. Slowly.

Howard’s offering is much better! There’s brilliant imagery of throwing rocks into the river of time to create splashes and drops which explains how time blows up (and comes back together). And there’s a reason why different segments of time have come apart in the first place, and why they are now stitched together in the way that they are with all its ramifications – including cultural – that go with it.

There’s also time travel technology that’s been built on the model of time as a function of the harmonic frequency that a particle resonates or vibrates. The “Fistula” is a hole in time through which the past can be seen, and is held in check by the “Containment”. Basically, there’s a two part time machine, of sorts.

It’s fantastic time travel nuts and bolts stuff!

Rating * * * *

I wish could keep the time travel element and throw out the complex character development and relationships etc. from the novel. Come to think of it, I wish I could throw out those school kids from the train.

Perhaps it’s a sign in itself that it only took a bunch of school kids to set me off my reading rails, though that said, the time travel component was easily uptaken! If anything, I’d like to leave a highly negative review for the school teachers and parents of the little s**ts hopes of our future on my train.

Howard Loring’s next novel in the series is Piercing the Elastic Limit, and there’s also Tales of the Elastic Limit which “…can be read backwards as well as forwards”. Stand by for an interview with Howard – I’ll keep you posted!


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Star ratings:
| 5* Excellent! | 4* Good | 3* OK | 2* Not good | 1* Crud |