Join us as we peek behind the scenes of our new anthology, ON TIME. Learn more about Henry Gasko in his featured interview.
ABOUT THE STORY
What inspired your story?
Have you ever sat down at your screen for just a few minutes and then looked up to see that it was two hours later. Sure, we all have. And I started to wonder: where does that time go? It can’t just disappear, can it? “Chronons” is my answer.
Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist?
Jayden Gimulbusch is a slacker. That’s not meant to be derogatory – he’d be the first to admit it. He’s still in high school but he already has a goal, a purpose, in his life. His one single aim is to get to the 15th level of his favorite game, Ninja Assassin, and to capture Sword of Kusanagi. Every life should have a clear and compelling goal.
What is the most interesting thing about the world you’ve created?
Even though the story is, I think, quite humorous, it does introduce the concept of “chronons” which some quantum physicists think are the underlying components of time, the discrete particles of time that are the equivalent of electron and photons, and may hold the key to our understanding of the universe.
What genre or mix of genres does your story fit into?
The story is meant to be a humorous take on a science fiction idea, and as such I hope, it reminds people of some of the old-time masters of that form, such as Frederic Brown and Robert Sheckley (and, yes, I realize those names do give away my age).
How have your personal experiences influenced this story?
I, like just about everyone else in our society, have often sat down in front of my screen just to check my mail or Facebook or look up something on Wikipedia. It will only take a minute, I tell myself. And I look up two hours later and wonder, “Where the hell did those two hours go?”
What would you like readers to take away from your story?
I don’t want to get too serious, and I do hope that readers will get a few laughs from this story. But I think we all need to appreciate that time is truly limited, and that applies whether you are still in your teens like my main character Jayden or nearing seventy as I am.
What was your favorite part of the story to write and why?
I really enjoyed the last section, where Jayden decides what he REALLY wants to do with all that extra time he has purchased. But, no, I won’t give that away here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
When did you write your first story, how old were you, and what was it about?
I misspent my youth reading all the SF masters of the 50’s and 60’s, but then life intervened, and I didn’t write my first story until my children had grown up and my career (in medical research) had settled down. I was in my early forties, and the story was called “Arthur’s Aunt.” It was about a grad student who uses an AI to simulate his grandmother in order to keep her best friend company after she passes away. Little does he realize that grandmother’s friend has also died recently, only to be replaced by an AI as part of a government project. So the two AI’s have a very lovely time of it, keeping each other company over the phone, reminiscing about their lost youths. Remember this was a time when the idea of AI’s was still pretty original. (It’s in an old Australian anthology called “Dreamworks” if anyone is interested.)
What is your writing survival checklist? (Aka, what helps your write the best: music, snacks, coffee, complete silence, a stress ball, a cat, or an outline, etc.)
I have never had a cup of coffee in my life (TRUE!), I don’t have a cat, and if I start listening to music, it’s clear that my mind is not on the job, and I might as well give up any pretence of writing that day. My main method of getting ideas is to engage in some form of exercise: I cycle a lot in the hills around my home in central Victoria, Australia, I swim regularly, and I also like to kayak. I find the solitude and the hypnotic rhythms are like a meditation that tunes out the world and allows my mind to wander freely.
What has influenced you most as a writer?
I suppose my life-long belief in rationalism and humanism is the main thing I try to communicate in my writing. I read a lot of science fiction while growing up as a nerdy kid on a farm, and those writers from the 50’s and 60’s (including Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, later Herbert, Zelazny and Nevin) are still a big influence in the type of stories I write – mostly hard SF with strong philosophical themes. Later I started reading horror, mostly Stephen King, and I try to emulate his clear and unpretentious style.
What font do you prefer to write in?
I prefer the clear, unadorned lines of Ariel, even though a lot of editors seem to prefer Times New Roman.
Do you have any writing blogs/vlogs/podcasts, etc. that you would recommend?
There are many good blogs about the craft of writing fiction, but my favorite site is actually about the movies – Matt Bird’s Secret of Story (formerly known as Cockeyed Caravan) – because it concentrates on the most important aspect of writing, the story itself. I also subscribe to many sites that provide details about current submission calls – very necessary in the fragmented world of publishing these days.
What is your favorite and least favorite word, and why?
Seriously? One favorite word? No, I don’t have one favorite – they are all useful in the right circumstances, and that is the highest compliment that you can pay to a word. As for least favorite, I suppose as an author I should say something like “adverb” (i.e. the concept – the word itself is quite unusual and therefore interesting). But again, they all have their place, and singling out one word to actively dislike sounds like a slippery slope to a 1984-scenario where only a few dozen words are allowed to expressed every possible idea – very dangerous!
Henry Gasko was born in a displaced persons camp in Yugoslavia after World War Two, was raised on a vegetable farm in Canada, and is now living in Australia. He has recently retired from a career in data analysis and medical research. He won third place in 2020 and first place in the 2018 Sapiens Plurum short story competition, and has been a two-time semi-finalist in The Writers of the Future. He has had stories published in the anthologies “Dreamworks” and “Alternate Apocalype,” in Australia’s Aurealis magazine, and in the SciPhi Journal.