Friday, January 23, 2015

Book Review: The Actuator 1.5: Borderlands Anthology

The Actuator 1.5: Borderlands Anthology

Genre(s): Anthology, Action & Adventure, Alternative History, Cyberpunk, Dark Fantasy, Fairy Tales & Myths, Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Steampunk

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

Date of Publication: September 11, 2014


When the Actuator breaks the earth into a patchwork of altered realities, the remaining Machine Monks begin looking for the Keys to put it back. In the meantime, everyone in the world has been transformed without knowing why. This collection tells about some of the people struggling to deal with the change.

  • In Remembering Emily, by Sara Wolf, Daniel must rescue his distant girlfriend from danger. Worse, she might forget him.

  • Matthew Cox explores Cyberpunked China in Stolen Orchid, where a man finds his wife has become a ghost. His only hope is to cross the border to an unfamiliar realm.

  • In The Blackbird’s Tale, Dan Willis tells of a Machine Monk named David, who works his way through Chicago’s noir scene to find an Actuator Key.

  • Nathan Yocum gives us The Dream Journal of Oren Smith Wessely, in steampunk Arizona where his dreams suddenly come to life.

  • Mara Valderran’s The Austenation crosses Pride and Prejudice with werewolves so the young heroine is forced to do the unthinkable and take matters into her own hands.

  • In Escape, by Patrick Burdine, a group of teenagers are caught in a motherless town where all the fathers have turned into faceless, soul-sucking monsters.

  • The Ritual, by Whitney Trang, is a haunted house in Japan where a ghost seeks to sacrifice a young woman’s sister to save his family.

  • The Gatekeepers of Change is James Pratt’s chronicle of the awakening of great power in a man preparing to enact terrible plans.

  • The Ringer is Craig Nybo’s tale about a detective in New Orleans facing zombies and other undead monsters as he assists a client in taking on her crime lord husband.

  • A Soviet soldier guarding Chernobyl, in Jason Purdy’s Anna and Lena, must escape the poisoning by crossing an unknown border.

  • Jenny Persson brings us a teen in Viking Sweden in Once upon a Frozen North, who looks to the steampunk airships just across the border as a means for her escape.

  • Jay Wilburn tells of drug addicted Travis, in Halfway, who finds the sanctuary of the sanitarium suddenly turns violent.

  • The author Juhi’s The Search for Punarnav takes us to India, where a man seeks to become a healer despite the dangerous Hindu mythologies suddenly made real.

  • Jason A. Anderson brings us 15 Seconds of Fame, in Steampunk London where a detective risks everything to save a child from her mob boss father.

  • In Forever Young, Wilbert Stanton explores the fate of an old man who finds himself young again, after paying his life’s savings to gain admission into an exclusive realm.

  • Finally, James Wymore’s tale, Cult of the Actuation, continues the story from book 1, as Dragon Star takes on religious zealots, organized in the wake of the Change, who have taken one of the Machine Monks captive.

Find Online: Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK


You get quite the amount of short stories in this book, sixteen to be exact. All of them I felt were well written and I enjoyed the different ways the authors interpreted "The Actuator" for each of their stories. It just shows how creative and unique each author can be when writing a story even if it's based on a common theme.

All the stories were well edited but some stories didn't intrigue me as much as some of the others. I'm not going to say which ones, but some stories had me more on the edge of my seat while others kind of crawled along. It might be due to the limited word count but some authors developed worlds better and some developed plots or characters better. It takes me a bit to get into a story but once I do, it ends. A lot of the times I felt like the endings were too abrupt for my liking but that may also be due to the limited word count.

Overall, it was ok for me. I feel that maybe I wasn't the exact target audience for some of these stories. It's more adult than I usually read. I stick with YA and NA but I would consider most of these stories more mature. They are definitely considered fantasy or scifi in genre but you also get some sub-genre like mystery, historical, steampunk, or drama so chances are you'll find something you like. If you enjoy the more mature and serious aspects of fiction then you'll probably enjoy these stories. It just wasn't quite for me.

3.2 out of 5 rating for me!

(A copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review. I was not compensated in any other way.)

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