I’d like to preface this by stating that this review was originally accepted by Amazon and posted in May of 2016. However, due to the author being unwilling to accept genuine criticism, he had it removed. (Update: It is now December 31st, 2016, and I am submitting this review YET AGAIN, as it is suspiciously missing from the product’s listing AGAIN)
(Update again: It is now January 4th, 2017, and the review is down AGAIN, and I’ve received an email from Amazon in which they inform me someone has claimed they believe I’ve manipulated Amazon’s ratings/feedback system. This is a demonstrable falsehood, and I suspect it is, in fact, Mr. Loring manipulating the fact that Amazon cannot possibly assign someone to personally look into this spiralling situation)
This is an objective review, provided based on the story’s merits as read, a review provided upon the request of Mr. Loring after I made the offer to provide said review at no charge, but with the understanding that what I wrote up would be an honest and objective feedback. If Goodreads or any representative thereof would like, I can provide documentation proving that Mr. Loring personally accepted that the material would be reviewed, and that I would not be dishonest in my findings. He submitted his work to me knowing full well the range of possible outcomes.
‘Beyond the Elastic Limit’ is, without a doubt, one of the worst works of genre fiction it has ever been my misfortune to have submitted to me for reading and review consideration. The work was offered to me by the author himself, a claim which can be substantiated upon request with screencaptures of my email inbox. Despite Mr. Loring’s attempts to claim that I did not read this work properly, as individual stories, I have previously proven with captures of a dialogue he and I had that this is not so. I asked him if it was to be read and reviewed as a whole, singular tale; he replied that yes, it was. After the initial review, he tried claiming this was not the case, and I called him out for it. It is my belief that this displays a startling lack of ethics on his part.
Anyhow, into the notes I took for the reading.
On page 9- ‘he knew she held the same opinion about him.’ This immediately rings overt. Perhaps ‘strongly believed’ or ‘he knew she’d said as much the same of him’. Unless ‘the husband’, thus far unnamed, is psychic.
Pg 10- The dialogue between ‘husband and wife’ is expository and an infodump to the Nth degree. At least, it’s an attempted infodump, because we don’t actually get any effective narrative here.
Pg 11- ‘the rising sun revealed the formally hidden world’… I suspect Mr. Loring meant ‘formerly’, given the context. A minor quibble.
If taken on its own, this first part strikes me as an oddly empty exercise, almost a smug self-congratulations to start the book.
Pg 13- “This statement shocked her.” I realize this is explained right off next sentence, but it arrives deadpan, flat. Show, don’t tell, Mr. Loring.
Pg 13-14- The male, ‘Hank’ as we finally learn he’s named, and his fiancee’s dialogue on these pages comes across as bizarrely stiff and insincere, staged more plainly than the conversation in a WWII propaganda film or a sex ed flick from the 50’s/60’s.
Pg 15 (top)- ‘stated with gratitude, whispering the obvious into her long red hair.’ Did he state it, or whisper it? This is contradictory in sensation and redundant. Possible rephrase: ‘he whispered gratefully through her fiery locks.’ Also, this is the first time we get any kind of real description of the female character.
Pg 16 (whole page)- The entire continued dialogue here is vague, and continues to be wooden. There’s no sense of the setting in which this conversation takes place. The library we started at on page 13 had NO establishment of sensory input, and as the engaged couple is on their way to the Administration Building, we still have no sense of their surroundings or much about them in the form of description or personality. In short, the reader still has no reason to care about anything in the narrative, if it can even be called narrative.
Pg 17- …doing here?”, suddenly asked an elderly gentleman…” Very awkward sentence structure, both jarring and disjointed.
Pg 18- ‘stated the now stunned Hank.’ Again, this wording comes across flat and unskilled. Even were we to accept it as it lies, ‘now stunned’ should be hyphenated, and even then, this is just amateur hour stiffness.
Pg 19- It may just have been a formatting thing, but there is NO break from Fran sitting down to wait outside of the Committee Room and the reveal of said committee and Hank being seated for his hearing. NO BREAK.
Pg 21- ‘The Maestro smiled, pleased that his request had been granted.’ No need to explain that he was pleased, or why. Again, Show, Don’t Tell. The reader can SEE he’s pleased BY THE SMILE. And by the way, pages 20 and 21 here, and I have almost no idea what the room or its occupants look like. Sykes is an older chap (vaguely mentioned), the Maestro is diminutive, and that’s it for descriptors other than a ‘long table’. Minimal everything, and flat characters equals a terrible reading experience.
Pg 22-23- These pages are filled with time travel theory of a rather vague structure, material which, while academically intriguing and highly appealing to mathematical or physics theorists, is about as far from entertaining or appealing, as it’s written, as golf would be to the indiginous people of gala pagal, the Island of Living Electronics!
By page 25, I have not experienced any notable or memorable sensory inputs or character developments or attachments whatsoever. There’s nothing here to actually make this drivel feel like an actual story. As for the characters, none have really been made either relatable or 3-dimensional. Granted, the line spacing is wide, but by now the grain of this title, I suspect, is not about to change toward something more than what it has been; a dry and self-satisfied examination of the author’s sense of theoretical cleverness.
If Mr. Loring’s prose is a style readers enjoy, they may do better to indulge in poetry, which is also minimalist in word count, but which at least uses some imagery. I, personally, am not a fan. The theories of time travel, if they are indeed expounded upon throughout this work, might be best served as an essay rather than as a commercially offered book labeled as sci-fi.
Mr. Loring may argue that his work was ‘over my head’, or that I ‘didn’t get it’. He may even challenge that I didn’t give ‘Beyond the Elastic Limit’ a fair chance by stopping at page 25. I would counter that my observations should make plain for anyone to see that he did nothing to hold my interest long enough to give the book that chance.
At 2.99 on Kindle or 13.99 in paperback, you’d be better served converting this money into pennies and flushing them down the toilet. At least in that instance, every now and again the toilet will back up, and you’ll get your money back.