If you read The Actuator: Fractured Earth by James Wymore and Aiden James (and you should have, trust me!), then you might have wondered how the rest of the world reacted to The Actuation–the event that changed the world into different parts based on the imaginations of the Machine Monks. Sixteen different authors have come together to answer that question in the Borderlands Anthology, available from Curiosity Quills Press on September 11th.
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,” Sara Wolf brings us a tale describing the horror of a world split by the Actuator. Daniel’s girlfriend, Emily, is in danger in some faraway place. Worse, she might forget Daniel before he can reach her. Fighting against the Actuator’s attempts to enforce a new reality to block him, he must find a way to rescue Emily before it’s too late.
Matthew Cox explores Cyberpunked China in “Stolen Orchid,” where a man finds his wife has become a ghost due to the Actuator’s powerful reach. His only hope of saving her is to cross the border with a mobster bearing down, facing precarious fate in an unfamiliar realm.
About Matthew: Born in a little town known as South Amboy, New Jersey, in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey.
In “The Blackbird’s Tale,” Dan Willis relates the plight of a Machine Monk named David, who works his way through obstacles to reach Chicago. Why? To find an Actuator Key—one that takes the form of a small bird statue.
About Dan: Dan wrote his first work of fiction at the tender age of ten and has been creating fantastic tales ever since. He’s used his talents working in the board game and video game industries, as well as advertising, and web design. Recently he wrote for the long-running DragonLance Series and under their Young Adult brand, DragonLance: The New Adventures. Currently, he working on a Steampunk Civil War series entitled Dragons of the Confederacy with NYT best-selling author, Tracy Hickman. Dan lives in Utah with his wife and four children.
Nathan Yocum explores the plight of Oren Smith Wessely as a man with no past, trapped in the twisted, kaleidoscopic realm of steampunk Arizona in “Dream Journal.” Dark dreams haunt Oren’s nights…but what happens when those dreams suddenly come to life? Certainly nothing good.
About Nathan: Nathan L. Yocum is an author, teacher, and entrepreneur living on the Big Island of Hawai’i. His novels, The Zona, Automatic Woman, and The Strong Brain are all available through Curiosity Quills. Nathan has short stories featured in CQ Primetime, CQ After Dark, Lamplight: Dark Fiction Quarterly, and Writers on the Wrong Side of the Road.
Mara Valderran’s “The Austenation” is a tale where Pride and Prejudice meets werewolves in the English countryside of the Victorian era. Dealing with the strict social mores of the day, along with lycanthropic consequences, the story’s young heroine is forced to do what was often unthinkable in that era: take matters into her own hands.
About Mara: Mara Valderran is an author of young adult and new adult books, but she’s more than just a madwoman with a writing box. She is an avid reader and fan of all things sci-fi and fantasy. She loves roller skating and movies, though typically not together. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and demanding cat. She hopes to one day meet Daniel Jackson from SG1, or at least the actor who played him. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, playing video games, or counting down the days until DragonCon.
In “Escape,” Patrick Burdine explores the fate of a group of teenagers caught in a town without mothers, and where all the fathers have turned into faceless, soul-sucking monsters. When one girl’s eighteenth birthday marks the end of her existence, can they penetrate the steel-walled town’s borders before it’s too late?
About Patrick: Patrick Burdine is an author and screenwriter residing in Los Angeles, California with his wife and three daughters. He’s the author of several short stories including a Shell Case Short winner, The Bone Carver and most recently released the chilling novella, The Monitor. Patrick also writes for film and is the screenwriter of the indie-horror movie Slaughterhouse Phi: Death Sisters. He enjoys spending time visiting the worlds of Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, JK Rowling, Dan Abnett, Jim Butcher, Larry Correia, HP Lovecraft, John Carpenter, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, JRR Tolkien, Guillermo del Toro, Robert Rodriguez, and pretty much any other author, director, or screenwriter with a great story that he can sink his teeth into. (note: Patrick is not a vampire . . . most of the time.)
“The Ritual” is the tale brought to us by Whitney Trang, where the Actuator brings imagined horrors of a haunted house in Japan to life. A young woman’s quest means facing a ghost bent on sacrificing her sister in a ritual to save himself and his family.
About Whitney: Whitney Trang is a twenty-two-year-old aspiring author and recently graduated with a degree in English and Communication from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her favorite books include James and the Giant Peach, The Baby-sitters’ Club, and Harry Potter. Mrs. Mahaffey, Whitney’s second grade teacher, helped her complete her first story. Every decision that Whitney has made from that point on was in order to accomplish her dream of being an author. Her family and friends also gave their support of her dreams and for that, she cannot thank them enough. “The Ritual” is the first short story that Whitney has had published, and she would like to thank Aiden James, James Wymore, and everyone at Curiosity Quills Press for this wonderful opportunity.
“The Gatekeepers of Change” is James Pratt’s short chronicle about a man dressed in black, and who rises to importance after the Great Actuation. Suddenly aware of the great powers and wider universe now available to him, the man enacts his plans.
About James: James Pratt mostly writes in the weird horror genre with dashes of fantasy, sci-fi, and action/adventure. And monsters. Lots of monsters. His stories have appeared in a number of anthologies including Canopic Jars: Tales of Mummies and Mummification from Great Old Ones Publishing, “Dark Hall Press Cosmic Horror Anthology”, “Dark Fairy Tales Revisited” from Horrified Press, and “How the West Was Weird: Vol. 3 from Pulpworks Press. . James also has three short story collections available on Amazon: the Lovecraft-themed Cthelvis and Others, the monster-centric Horrible Stories for Terrible People Vol. 1—Monsters, and Horrible Stories for Terrible People Vol. 2—Obscura, whose inhabitants include ghosts, kaiju monsters, the Grim Reaper, the Devil, and the Lord Almighty. James is currently working on two more short story collections, one fantasy and the other apocalypse-themed, and a Weird Western novel set firmly in the Lovecraft universe.
“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. The huge fee adds plenty of incentive…if he can live long enough to spend it.
About Craig: Craig Nybo lives with his beautiful wife and kids in Kaysville, UT. He works as a creative director for mediaRif.com, a digital agency. Craig writes novels, short fiction, and screenplays. As a musician, he has released several records with friends under the band names, Rustmonster and The Big Sky Country Boys. Craig also records solo work. He has released two records under his own name, Zombie Sing-a-long, and a sequel album, Zombie Sing-a-long: Whistler and the Children (Part 1). As a filmmaker, Craig has written and directed many short films. He also writes and directs many commercials and industrial videos as part of his profession. Aside from writing, Craig enjoys playing in the Rocky Mountains, rock climbing, and canyoneering.
A Soviet soldier guarding Chernobyl from people too foolish to stay away from the radiation forms the basis of Jason Purdy’s “Anna and Lena.” When the soldier abandons his post, he soon discovers that he is the last living person in the area. Poisoned and growing weaker by the moment, he must find someplace safe across the border before he perishes.
About Jason: Jason Purdy is twenty-three years old and from Northern Ireland. He loves reading, listening to music, film, quality telly, going to the gym, and playing video games. A recent university graduate, he plans to continue his career in the media industries, and to continue writing and studying, when he finds time around his video game addiction. His debut novel, Cigarette, was released in April 2013, and he has featured in several short story anthologies. Jason is also a screenwriter and has several scripts that have been picked up by local filmmakers. He is also an on again off again filmmaker with his own kit. His ultimate goal is to be able to make a living off writing, because to him, a day job where you don’t have to walk any farther than your desk sounds like it would suit him down to the ground. Of course, the whole doing what you love aspect of it would be nice too.
Jenny Persson brings us the story of a teen suddenly thrust into Viking Sweden in “Once upon a Frozen North.” The teen finds her modern way of thinking brings only misery. But the girl is cunning. Soon after her ritual into womanhood, she looks to the steampunk airships just across the border as a means for her escape.
About Jenny: Jenny Persson has previously published two collections of poetry. Her short stories are mostly science fiction, but she writes contemporary YA, fantasy, and romance as well. Growing up she read every book in the fairly small sci-fi/fantasy shelf at her local library, particularly enjoying the works of Ursula LeGuin and other female authors. The magic of books is something she’s passionate about and tries to pass on to every young person she comes across. Indoctrination has to start early! When not writing or reading, she bakes delicious cakes and pastries, and she’s been known to read cookbooks with the same passion she gives her collection of Jane Austen novels. She currently lives in a small town in Sweden with her husband and three children.
Jay Wilburn takes us along the harrowing journey of drug addicted Travis, as he traverses the Actuator-ravaged American South in “Halfway.” The journey becomes an opportunity to reconnect with the people lost to him by addiction…. But in the end, will he find the lasting peace he seeks?
About Jay: Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in the coastal swamps of South Carolina. He left teaching after sixteen years to care for the health needs of his younger son and to pursue full-time writing. His novels include Loose Ends with Hazardous Press and Time Eaters with Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing. He has a piece in Best Horror of the Year Volume 5. Follow his many dark thoughts at JayWilburn.com and @AmongTheZombies on Twitter.
The author Juhi’s “The Search for Punarnav” takes us far away to India, where a man seeks to become a healer. To do so, he faces the daunting task of eluding the many dangerous Hindu mythological creatures brought to life by the Actuator.
Juhi is a story addict. She loves to travel through Time, Space, and Imagination, meeting people and finding delight in their worlds and trinkets. She does not remember when or how the addiction started, but it was very early in her life. Her mother recalls how she had to trick little two-year-old Juhi to eat her meals by stopping at strategic points in her Panchatantra Tales till she swallowed the food in her mouth. A little older than that (a lot!), Juhi now creates her own worlds with people and their trinkets in them, and loves to color them with words and illustrations.
Jason A. Anderson brings us “15 Seconds of Fame.” Unlike the title’s standard definition, this tale takes place in Steampunk London. A detective risks life and limb to save a child from her mob boss father. Not an easy task, especially when it means finding a way to also save the child’s mother from violent retaliation.
About Jason: Jason Anderson was raised in Southern California before moving to Utah to attend high school. While a teenager, he conceived and began writing his teen adventure series, The Starriders Saga. The first two books in the series, “Dragon Fire” and “Rebels Without a Clue” are currently available. Never one to let grass grow under his feet, he continued exploring different story concepts and struck upon what has become the SoulChaser Universe. “SoulChaser: Earthbound” and “Jean Archer: The Diamond and the Rough” are both available from that series. Besides being a father and writer, his passions include theater production, fast cars, off-roading, rock ‘n’ roll, and he is a Harley-Davidson enthusiast.
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. However, when he meets a new love, he soon learns the real cost of immortality, and whether or not he is willing to pay for it.
About Wilbert: Wilbert Stanton was born and raised in New York City. From an early age, Wilbert decided he would either write books or take over the world; everything else was just a precursor to his end game. Along the way, he has studied Psychology, English, and Computer Science. He’s held jobs in a wide range of fields and met people from all walks of life. Wilbert is constantly learning and growing as a person, in order to solidify his dreams. In the end world domination was a bit tedious, so he decided to focus on writing books. You can find Wilbert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authorwilbertstanton
Last, but not least, we have James Wymore’s tale, “Cult of the Actuation.” A Machine Monk, captured just east of the base, calls for help. Dragon Star comes to the rescue… but is soon distracted by a religious cult surrounding the mouth of a cave near one of the Actuator’s borders. Ultimately, the cult leader decides that the Machine Monk and Dragon Star pose a threat, and orders their execution. A dicey situation at best.
About James: On a lifelong search for fantastic worlds hiding just out of sight, James Wymore writes to explore. With four books out, he continues to push the boundaries of genre and imagination with The Actuator series. This is his first time editing a short story anthology, but it won’t be his last. Find all his work at http://jameswymore.wordpress.com