Authors: Joel Stottlemire
Tags: #adventure, #science fiction, #aliens, #space
Story: Copyright 2015
Settings and Characters: Creative Commons 3.0
Cover Art: “The Cube” by Gavin Revitt
Published by: The Dryden Experiment
I have always been a lover
of all things text. I always had my head buried in a book growing
up. As a form of punishment I would have my books taken away for an
afternoon. (Pure torture, I tell you!) The thought of getting rid
of or giving away any of my precious books would cause anxiety
fits. So, my brother got me a ebook reader. I got hooked on ebooks
and discovered independent authors. I knew you could leave reviews,
but never thought much of it. Then I started befriending some of
these amazing authors and realized that they need reviews. It helps
them make money. And it's a vicious cycle. The more money they make
writing, the more they write, the more I can read. See, not an
altruistic bone in my body. What can I say, I'm a greedy bookworm.
I read most anything. I find something fascinating about most
books. I do have some genres that are harder for me to get into,
but hey, a good book is a good book. I tried to write reviews as I
read them, but I was really a bad reader because I continued
inhaling books without writing the reviews. An author friend of
mine suggested I start a blog. And that's how I came to be
When I started writing book reviews
on my blog Textual Love (
), I came across a
post by Joel asking for someone to read and review his book
"Seasons of Fire: The Child of Light and Dark.” I decided to give
it a shot and wrote my review. I contacted Joel giving him the
links to the reviews and asking where all he wanted reviews posted.
Apparently, he liked my review because soon after, he requested
that I review "Flash Master: A Dryden Experiment", his collection
of macabre, sci-fi stories. I'll admit, I was slightly hesitant at
first because 1.) I'm a book worm and am always greedy for more, so
short stories are just a tease and 2.) I'm not a really huge sci-fi
fan. Many times sci-fi writers are so interested in the worlds that
they build that they forget about the characters that inhabit them.
But I figured, why not. If I don't like it, I don't like it and
will review it as such. But I did like it. Some stories icked me
out. Some made me giggle. Some I was content with the size and
others left me wanting more. Chapter One of Alder’s World was
included in the collection and I definitely wanted more. I wanted
to know how they got where they did. I wanted to know what it was
that they were dealing with. I wanted to know what happened next. I
was NOT satisfied with that small chapter. So I messaged Joel,
lamenting about how there needs to be more. And Joel doesn't like
Lieutenant Commander Alder tapped nervously on the screen in
front of him, flipping back and forth between external camera
views. All the cameras showed different views of the same
a mess of strings and
ropes half the size of Jupiter but only maybe two thirds the mass
of Earth. It was weird, too weird for Alder. In fourteen years as
chief science officer for the LOP Duster,
d seen a lot of weird
things; planets in counter rotational orbits, biospheres composed
entirely of Sulfur eating sludges,
d even watched two stars
smack into each other from a distance of only one light year. But,
d never seen anything that
t explain with good
old Terran physics.
Alder’s face was youthful
for his forty-five years. Only the grey in the stocky hair of his
temples gave any hint that he was over forty. His face mostly
remembered his Asian ancestors. It was broad and golden toned. His
nose was high though, and not very wide; the result of Irish or
other European stock. Like most people of the age, he was a mix.
People who grew up on one planet or another sometimes
t even remember what
parts of Earth their families were from. Though
d moved from planet to
planet as a child and had never been to Earth, he found it
fascinating to look at a globe and think,
Someone crawled into a space ship
here or here.”
It was an odd curiosity but
he knew, with some certainty, where the Earth homes of at least
five of his ancestors were.
He grimaced and tapped
another control. He
d been a
lot younger when he approached the League of Planets to request
inclusion in one of their deep space missions; young and excited to
see what was new, to be part of the first wave of human explorers
to leave the star systems around Sol. Now, fourteen years later and
more than a thousand light years from the ancestor planet, League
Prime or anywhere else humans lived, he liked things to be canny.
The ship was older, he was older. While 3-d printers ranged around
the ship meant that they could remake almost anything machine that
broke and similar technology in the medical bay meant that he could
be largely rebuilt as well, the odds still being alive when Captain
Pilton finally turned for home went up when things were canny and
The planet sized ball of
space yarn he was studying was as uncanny, even creepy, as it could
get. At first, as of yet unnamed Star System -89.6, 1.44, 1107.3
t seemed that unusual;
mid aged protoplanetary disc around a fairly new Class A star. It
t until the Duster
actually got into the system that things started turning up funny.
First, there was the number of protoplanets, there were 914, which
was completely impossible. Second, the computer had worked out
somehow that all 914 masses currently spread helter-skelter around
the system, would eventually intercept each other and settle down
into only two massive gas giant planets each orbiting less than
half the distance from the Earth to the sun – also
The final weirdness was
that the protoplanets weren
protoplanets at all. The object on his screen was everything
d expect to find in a
protoplanetary disk; lots of dust, a fair array of gasses, some
metals but it was neither swirling around nor settled into a
planet. Something, no one knew what, was holding millions of tons
of what could have been an Earth like planet strung out like metal
filings around a magnet. Radar showed that there was a tiny, solid
dot in the middle but gave no clue about what it might be. The only
instrument that was giving any indication of what could be holding
the thing together was the gravity wave detector and the things it
was saying would give any sane physicist nightmares.
“It has to be alien
intelligence.” Alder had insisted at the command meeting a few days
How can you be so sure?”
Captain Pilton had asked, gazing out of the conference room window
at the dark mass in the sky, moodily lit by the blue, white star.
His smooth skinned, boyish face bore a jagged scar from shrapnel
d picked up
off a failed pressure container a few years before but his voice
was steady and his eyes a clear, steel blue.
There are a lot of natural
phenomena that produce orderly patterns, spontaneous alignments in
crystals for example.
Alder rubbed the back of
his hand against the stubble on his chin. This was really just
rhetorical. Once Pilton got curious about something, you
d been selected to captain a science vessel in deep space
because he was naturally curious and now, twice a far from Earth as
any previous ship, he showed no signs of letting up. Alder sighed
and had a go anyway.
Sure, nature produces a diamond every now and then, but these
masses are two orders more complex. One, there
s no known force that could be
holding so much mass in those weird knots. The only possible
comparison is Make Make and Dark Companion, also never explained.
Two, nature doesn
t send 914 objects on a course that will randomly form two
almost identical gas giants. It has to be alien
m confused.” The voice was Tallen,
the stocky, usually grouchy, chief of security.
I thought the two planets
t going to
form for hundreds of thousands of years.
it appears the some of the larger masses may be smaller masses that
have already intercepted each other.
“Then how long have these
balls been floating around?
Alder licked his
all new science, but it looks as if these masses started forming
almost 1.2 million years ago.
There was a silence in the
suggesting that an alien life form visited this star system more
than a million years ago and rearranged it so that it would form
gas giant planets eons later?” The question came from Wei, the
It looks like they started a process that is meant to complete once
the star gets to a more stable point in its
The silence returned.
Everyone glanced at the Captain. He stared out at Mass 17 as if he
could discern his secrets with his piercing stare. Alright.”
He said finally.
re an exploration ship.
to the ship
you can fly the scout through the dust?
“Yes, Captain. The cloud
is massive but not dense. We should be able to fly all the way to
the object in the middle. We should be able to get a good look
A good look? Alder glanced
at the life support readouts on Martin and the two crew members
d flown into Mass 17 with
him. None of their displays showed any activity. Whatever it was
they were looking at was playing merry hob with their radio
d heard no
word for more than two hours. He was tapping the screen again when
he was interrupted by a hissing noise.
Switching to another
screen he slid up a control and was pleased to see
s face, his yellow,
curly hair almost obscuring his eyes where it was trapped under his
Lance One to Dust.
Lance One to Dust.