Alder’s World came into my possession thanks to a Goodreads giveaway and seemed like a great way to fill up a little in-between reading time after finishing one novel and waiting for the next to hit the hold shelf at the library. Categorizing this book is somewhat difficult due to its length barely clearing 100 pages. It is obviously a sci-fi book but it feels too long for a short story and too short for a book. Between those two it reads more like a short story but author Joel Stottlemire put the term “Part 1” in Alder’s World’s title for a good reason. The story overall feels more like a preface of greater things to come. Part 1: Mass 17 is the set-up, the background, for the rest of a much larger story.
The premise is fairly simple; an exploration ship has been in deep space for significantly longer than initially planned because the captain is bull headed. Morale is low, the crew is homesick, and people are starting to think that mutiny might be a good idea. But before things can boil over, the ship discovers a mysterious object which the captain decides to investigate. The crew complies with this order, figuring that after this they will finally turn the ship around for home, and naturally that is when things begin to go horribly wrong.
There were a few quirks with Alder’s World that made it a tricky read. The story has a fair amount of characters and it can be a little difficult to keep them all straight when the story is so short and some of them only have a few snippets of dialogue here and there. But the big thing that made the story tough was the typos. Some of these were minor things that really do not affect readers that much, like a comma being in the wrong place here and there. Other things are more noticeable; there are a notable number of instances throughout the story where quotation marks are missing or used incorrectly. When readers have to backtrack in order to figure who is saying what it pulls you out of the immersion of the story. At that point you are no longer reading a story, you are trying to analyze a document and make sense of it. Other errors do persist, like characters being referred to as the wrong names, but the quotation mark mistakes stuck out as the most significant problem.
Mass 17 is told in a way where it does not feel like a full-fledged story. It is more like someone took one of SyFy Channel’s made-for-TV movies and converted the raw script into book format. Alder’s World is not a bad story, but its short length (you could read this in the same amount of time it takes to watch a made-for-TV SyFy movie) coupled with its grammatical errors and somewhat generic sci-fi plot are not exactly helping it to rise above the rest. If the story was cleaned up a bit and polished off it could do a lot better; as is Alder’s World falls within the territory of “generic sci-fi”, but with typos.