Friday, February 26, 2010

Eric Paul Shaffer Pushes Reality to Its Outer Limits

Let's talk more specifically about Burn & Learn. Are you serious when you claim on the title page of Burn & Learn that your novel is a “sequel” to H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine?

Yes, I am. There are a number of internal character clues or cues that correspond with Wells’ tale, of course, and I have essentially transported one aspect of one of Wells’ main characters into one of mine. In my humble estimation, Burn & Learn is a “logical” end to Wells’ novel. My text also answers a number of questions left open by Wells.

Oddly, for a book called The Time Machine, the adventures of the Time Traveler are narrow, even claustrophobic, from a temporal point of view. He hardly goes anywhere or sees anything; in fact, he seems to go only as far as the backyard fence and back. I broadened my canvas and context, even including a chronology of all the significant events of all the time in the world. I also traveled through multiple modes of fiction whereas Wells limited himself to a single mode: science fiction.

Strangely, to my way of thinking, Wells settled for a symbolic or even allegorical tale whose significance seems a little shallow, considering the endless possibilities of time. I decided to maintain a hyper-realistic stance within the mode in which I was working (whether it was native American tales, fables, koans, “realistic renderings of events,” or speaking bookmovie chapters). I focused on surfaces and appearances, and I did so primarily because I visualized every event as a “movie.” Movies are great, but they do NOT show depths; they show surfaces only, and only surfaces that reflect light. All that is revealed in movies is all that you can see or hear, and the same is true of Burn & Learn, although I made it my mission to push that reality to its outer limits.

Next up: Shaffer on Star Gazing

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