August 20, 2017

James Wymore & Aiden James: "Fractured Earth"

Title: Fractured Earth [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: The Actuator (1st of 4 books, but there's also a set of short stories which is Book 1.5)
Author: James Wymore [Site | Goodreads] & Aiden James
[Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Year: 2013
Age: It's marketed as an adult book, but it can be read by teens without any problem
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Creative premise. Breathless adventure, though there's a time for reflection as well. Constant change of scenery.
Cons: Essentially a "male" book, though at least a female character plays a somewhat bigger role. Would have benefited from a little character backstory, or better, interaction, before chaos ensued. Some convenient occurrences. A handful of (harmless) typos that apparently escaped revision.
Will appeal to: Alternate realities enthusiasts. RPG fans. Readers who get bored easily.

Blurb: On a secret military base, a dangerous machine lies hidden from the American public. Known as “The Actuator”, this machine is capable of transforming entire communities into alternate realities. In theory, these often terrifying realities are reversible. The scientists in charge of this machine employ operatives called Machine Monks. Experiments progress to where they feed more than twenty different genre ideas simultaneously into the Actuator’s database. Meanwhile, an unknown saboteur dismantles the dampeners. The effect is catastrophic. The entire world is plunged into chaos, and familiar landscapes become a deadly patchwork of genre horrors. Can a few surviving Machine Monks band together to set things right again? It all depends on whether Red McLaren and the Monks can survive their journey through the various realms that separate them from the Actuator, where ever-present orcs, aliens, pirates, and vampires seek to destroy them. (Amazon excerpt)

Review:  First off...DISCLAIMER: I am a semi-regular reviewer of Curiosity Quills titles (like this one), but if you look back at my ratings, this never prevented me from being unbiased. It's just that they have so many (sometimes underrated) gems under their belt.


The premise of this book (well, series) is fantastic, and I couldn't resist its pull. Although not a fantasy aficionado or a role-player, I always enjoy a story where reality as we know it gets upended and pretty much anything can happen, all while the characters have to navigate a suddenly unfamiliar landscape. In a sense, I got more than I bargained for with Fractured Earth. The characters embark on a journey to set things right that causes them to cross a number of different "realms", each one with its rules and dangers, where the very things they bring with them or travel on (not to mention their own physical appearance) can change drastically - sometimes with quite funny or downright weird results. For some reason, I didn't expect the straight-up fantasy/historical angle to be so prevalent, but the story as a whole was enthralling and kept me going, and I'm sure those readers who are more into fantasy and history than me will be delighted. [...]


I usually don't mind being thrown straight into the action. Oftentimes, I ended up loving those books where I was forced to follow the characters into a sudden hell without any prior knowledge of what that hell was about and how it came to be. In a way, this worked for me in Fractured Earth too, since the scope and range of the machine are revealed bit by bit, and the story would have been less interesting (and dramatic) if it had been the other way around. But I would have liked a bit of backstory about the characters at least - a sort of interaction, if brief, which told me who they were and how they related to the Actuator and (more important) to one another. As things are, they start to die or get bent by the machine (which only amplifies their vision of the world in a way, but still) before we even have a chance to care for them. That resulted in me feeling a bit detached from...pretty much everyone - even those characters who get more and more important as the story progresses. (Dragon Star, the Monk from Korea, was interesting though). Also, the women get little screen time, though Xenwyn will be integral to the last epic fight - in an unusual form, but that won't keep her from giving all she's got. I've grown pretty fond of fairies lately 😉. Another small thing that bugged me: when the characters cross different realities, they seem not to have anything with them sometimes (like when a couple of them change into their spirit animal), but their possessions are restored with the next crossing, though in a different form than before of course. Also, traveling by mirrors sounds more like magic than science (though made-up one)...


Albeit a sci-fi/fantasy book who will call to all the RP gamers/videogame addicts, Fractured Earth (and the whole series, I assume) does have a moral at its core (see the Quote link below). There are worlds we can get lost in, and it's especially easy if the everyday reality seems dull and hard to us. Everyone's got a right to create their own paradise, until they forget that there's a real world outside, and that their vision of how it should be is not the only one, nor necessarily the rightest. Also, more often than not, what starts off as utopia ends up as hell for those who just beg to differ.

For quotes from this book click here.
For my "Borderlands Anthology" review (installment 1.5 in the series) click here.
For my "Return of the Saboteur" review (second installment in the series) click here.
For my "Chaos Chronicles" review (third installment in the series) click here.
For more Adult books click here.
Like this book? You might also be interested in B.C. Johnson: "Riven"; Edward Aubry: "Prelude to Mayhem"; Robert Schell: "The Foster Children of Time".

Fractured Earth old cover


  1. "Utopia ends up as hell for those who beg to differ."

    Love that and it feels super relevant right now.

    This sounds like it would be a fun action/sci-fi movie!

    For What It's Worth

    1. Yep, both your statements are correct. Though this book came out 4 years ago, it could easily be a commentary on nowadays US in a way.


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