The Great Symmetry by James R Wells (Audiobook Review + Bonus Author & Narrator Interviews)

The Great Symmetry - James R Wells, James R Wells, Mitchell Lucas
A SciFi adventure of underdogs against the evil corporations, which occasionally reminded me of the movie “Serenity.”

Exoarchaeologist Evan McElroy has made a discovery about a long-extinct alien race. But his sponsors realize they can make huge gains if the new findings are kept completely secret. As Evan flees for his life, his trajectory awakens a long-buried struggle. The Infoterrorists, who believe all ideas are screaming to be free, have waited years for the right moment to take on the seven great families that control all of civilization. This could be their opportunity. Or it could be time for millions to die.

Disclosure: Hovering over the cover and purchasing may give me a small commission (yippee, book $).

The author is offering 2 Giveaway opportunities for this book. A free Audible copy to one of my readers (US only, see the Rafflecopter below) and a free signed print copy to the first reader/listener to find a hidden Easter egg in the book (North America only, see the final paragraph of this post).


SERIES INFO: This is Book #1 of what is currently planned as a trilogy with a prequel. According to the author, Volume II “will be released late in 2016. The audio book will follow shortly afterward.”

“You can’t stop the signal.” (Mr. Universe, Serenity), but these corporate madmen with their out of control “spin” and willingness to reach for the nukes are sure going to try.

There are too many characters to discuss them all here (although I didn’t have any problem keeping track of them). Our central trio of Evan, Mira, and Kate are well balanced and each bring something different to the table. I am looking forward to seeing what’s next for them.

In this universe, the 7 major “families” (i.e. corporations) that run everything control the media by inventing and disseminating the “True Story.” And if you don’t fall in line they will “zero” you, leaving you homeless and outcast. And all you people who don’t read every word of the Terms when you sign up for something (does anybody) had better beware. Something as innocuous as signing up for a grocery discount card can ruin your life.

My favorite piece of tech was Evan’s spacesuit. In most SF novels, the suit has a limited computer with basic readouts or maybe a battle HUD. This one was fully interactive. And it had removable gauntlets (with an inner glove), which allowed for manipulation of small objects. (Kip from Have Spacesuit, Will Travel would be extremely envious.)

I appreciated the linear storytelling and felt that the backstory was presented at a good pace. I did think that Evan’s story about what started all this was more than a bit anti-climatic considering how long it was held back. I think it would have played better if it had come earlier.

NARRATION: I liked it. Good pacing and production. / His deep voice prevented him from doing natural sounding female voices. I appreciate that he didn’t try, but just went a bit higher. / A bit slow in the non-action scenes, I occasionally listened on 1.5 speed (instead of my usual 1.25) / The one negative was that his very low voice challenged my $5 earbuds. It was much better on the external speaker.


“Those, my friend, are carrots. Never seen one before?” Mira grabbed the tongs and snagged a few for herself.

“Of course I have! But those are not carrots. Carrots are straight, are twenty centimeters long, and deep orange. And smooth. These are pale yellow, and lumpy. With purple splotches. Look, this one splits in two! And what is that white fibrous stuff?”

“They’re actual carrots, the kind that grow in the ground.” She held up a pair of the roots in the serving tongs and offered them to Evan.

“In the ground? As in, dirt? Worms? Oh, that is so unnatural. Mira, this mutant food isn’t going to work for me. Is there any Certified Safe food here?”


The sense of anticipation during the climactic scene where the crazy general is preparing to unleash destruction and several people are working independently to stop him

I COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT: a new name for wormholes / mild infrequent swearing / Evan & Kate’s “unmarried” state
OTHER WARNINGS: one of the major female side characters has a wife & kids

Enjoyment: HIGH
Re-readability: AVERAGE
Narrator Impact: AVERAGE

I received this book free in return for an honest review, courtesy of Audiobook Blast dot com.

The Great Symmetry by James R Wells; read by Mitchell Lucas; produced independantly in 2015 / Length: 9 hrs 45 min (Unabr) / Available through Audible & Amazon plus iTunes


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Who was your favorite character in the book and why?

Definitely Mira. She's smart and tough. She's a badass.


Who was the easiest to narrate? The hardest?

The easiest to narrate would have to be Evan. I didn't have to do a voice for him. The toughest would probably be Axiom. That guy was hard on the vocal chords.


What motivated you to become an audiobook narrator?

I'm a huge fan of audiobooks. I used to listen to them for years at my old job to help pass the time. I'm also a voice actor for independent video games as well, so I already had my foot in the door as far as the initial investment in the recording gear. To me it was inevitable that I would find a way to narrate audiobooks as well.


What's the best part about being a narrator? The worst?

The best part of being a narrator is getting to read books for free! But seriously I get to read some great stuff I might never find otherwise. On the other hand, you need to have a thick skin if you want to do this for a living. Not everyone's going to like your stuff. And they let you know.


People can learn more about me and contact me at my website:




A bit of biography that you may or may not know is that I am a great-grandson of science fiction pioneer H.G. Wells.


Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character(s)?

The Great Symmetry is about new ideas trumping the established narrative. I'd like to see an insurgent studio assemble a cast of talented but unkown actors to make something that's fresh, centered on characters and their growth through the story, and devoid of the long and tedious arcade-game "action" sequences that proliferate through many science fiction movies you see these days. [I have to say that The Martian was a great recent exception]


Audiobook / eBook / Paperbooks? Which is your favorite and why?

I love print books, always have and always will. Since I spend too much of my day looking at a computer or similar device, when it's time to read for myself I want to hold a book with printed pages.


But my preference is not the same as what the market wants. When I intially released The Great Symmetry, I didn't understand the importance of eBook and audio. These days my eBook version is by far the lead seller, while audio is about to overtake print. I'll always have a print version of every full length novel I publish, if only to prove to my family that I wrote another book, but I now realize print is not going to be the most important medium.


What motivated you to sit down and write your first book?

I have always wanted to write science fiction, and I made many attempts to write The Great Symmetry (under various prior titles) for 25 years. But just a couple of years ago, a theme started getting my attention and not letting go. I kept coming across stories about the ongoing attempts of those in power to define the accepted social narrative and marginalize those with different points of view, but then being frustrated by the imagination and artistry of motivated people who bring fresh ideas back to our mainstream conversation.


It's amazing how often one determined person or small group can make a change in how we all think of a topic. Although The Great Symmetry is a science fiction adventure story, it's also a celebration of the freedom of ideas.


To learn more, check out his website at


Just for fun, I sprinkled hidden references to well-known novels and current events through The Great Symmetry. Most have them have been found and remarked to me by at least one reader, but there are still a few holdouts, such as a pointer to one of America's most famous criminal cases. For the first listener or reader who finds that one and sends me a note, I'll send you a signed first edition (North America only, please).