In Fault or The Man Who Made Earthquakes, I feel that I have just watched a man, unhappy with his lot in life spiral down into a form of madness. Yet that seems like an easy solution to an uneasy story.
Travis is a man, with a great family. He has a beautiful and bright daughter, Kaylee, along with his wife Cynthia. Travis loves his family, and yet often feels misunderstood by his wife. He works at a law firm and is on the bottom rung of attorneys; the lawsuits pushed his way are usually the difficult and sometimes frivolous ones, strife with long delays and difficult clients. Constantly having to sooth clients and hold hands Travis seems to unravel just a little every day.
While allowing his daughter to play with an electronic toy, which is soon damaged, he takes it to his little shop in his basement to fix it. It is here he rediscovers his passion from youth. Always a tinkerer, he is fascinated by circuitry, both taking things apart and putting them together.
After going through a slight aftershock from an earthquake, he becomes fixated on how quakes happen. Picking apart the process, with the fault lines and the movement of the earth, he decides to try to use his new hobby to see if he can build a machine that will simulate a quake, thereby releasing the tension of the underlying violence that makes the quake so destructive.
Beginning as a fun project to take his mind off the mundaneness of his job, he finds himself drawn into a darkness and fantasy that takes over everything in his life. Is his machine just a fantasy, or has he delved into something darker and more destructive?
Travis is an odd character, likable and yet just a tad off. There is a bit of fragility about him that makes you feel like he is a bit on edge. Wiess has drawn a remarkable line in the sand for this character and has allowed us to follow his path, first along the line and then beyond. It is not comfortable to follow such a spiral, and yet it’s hard to give up on his character.
Excited by the prospects of his invention, Travis is blinded to what is real and how others are reacting to his quest. As he delves deeper into the process, he seems to lose more of himself and his sanity.
If you enjoy stories of madness and the human decline this is a well-detailed methodology of just such a decline. It follows a line of contrition that is somewhat uncomfortable and a bit different. This story gives you a bit of horror — and a bit of creepiness. Weiss will keep you enthralled with his story, wondering where it will all come out. Be prepared to be surprised.