on Oct. 1, 2012 :
The writer of this piece describes himself as a "young and new author" so I will make allowances for that. On the plus side the story has a proper beginning, middle and end, it's well structured and well-paced. It's reasonably dramatic, with plenty of incident.
I didn't think the story was particularly original, it reminded me of the plot of a 1950s sci-fi 'B' movie with aliens who have learnt to speak English because they've been secretly observing us for years. Still, it was a refreshing change that the aliens have actually been adopting many of our ideas and much of our technology.
There's a half-hearted attempt to describe the four astronauts at the beginning of the story, but their different characters need to shine through in their dialogue and their reactions to events. For the most part, they are just names.
A few things in the story seemed too far-fetched. Firstly, an astronaut running to get into a rocket as it's taking off, and also the fact that Johnny knows very little about his companions other than the fact they are his assistants. NASA space expeditions are planned months, even years in advance, the astronauts will train together for many weeks, so they should know each other very well, otherwise they can't work effectively as a team. Take-offs will also need lots of pre-planning, it is just inconceivable that an astronaut would run and jump aboard a rocket as somebody might do with a departing bus.
Johnny seems to fall asleep two or three times in this story for no other reason than as a device to jump forwards in the plot (ie he wakes up again when something interesting happens). Within the context of the story it is just ridiculous that he would fall asleep.
The sphere the astronauts take from the aliens - why do they do this? What is it that makes them take this sphere back with them? In the story they're getting attacked by aliens, they need to escape in order to save their necks, and for some reason they just decide to take a sphere with them. This needs to be better explained.
Please don't be disheartened by the low score I have given you, my standards are very high. If you really are a young writer, then your work shows promise and, with practice and a willingness to work on your weaknesses, you can get better.
(review of free book)