Review: Anomaly by Peter Cawdron

Vertigo

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David Teller is an elementary school teacher but when an alien anomaly appears outside the United Nations in New York he unexpectedly finds himself recruited into the team investigating it. This is a good, solid first contact story with all the hard science being softened by presenting it through the scientifically naïve eyes of David Teller. And that almost justifies the utterly implausible inclusion of such an unqualified person in the investigation team of mainly NASA scientists. The reality is that it just never would have happened in real life but it does make presenting the science without going too deep into obscure details and terminally boring anyone without a degree in at least physics much easier and makes this short little book much more palatable.

Anomaly is self-published and I have to say it is one of the few self-published books that I have found both enjoyable and remarkably free of editing errors; there are a few but these days even the best traditionally published authors rarely get their books out without a few typos still floating around. His prose could have used a bit of additional gentle editing, however, it frequently felt clumsy and in places drifted off into inconsequential detail whilst in others omitted important detail. But this does appear to be one of Cawdron’s earliest works so I have hopes that this will improve as he gains experience.

The anomaly itself, the science of the investigation and communication attempts are all well-handled and maybe Cawdron should have confined the story to just these aspects but he also chooses to look at the religious, social and political aspects of first contact and here the book is altogether weaker; he raises these issues as a background to the main story but I found the events associated with them to be both unlikely and given so much less coverage than I felt they warranted. Ultimately the questions they raised were neither addressed nor concluded, feeling more like a rather scruffy wrapping around the main events of the story.

For the most part that story worked well and had a satisfyingly conclusion. The writing, though mediocre, has promise and is better than most of the other self-published writing I have so far read. The core ideas and science are generally well presented despite some of the peripheral aspects getting rather less attention than they deserved. All in all a good book, though, and I will be reading more of Cawdron’s work in the future.

3/5 stars
 
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Parson

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I've read Anomaly as well and think I liked a tinge better than you did. Probably because I was more interested in the religious, social, and political aspects of the first contact.

Thanks for putting the work into this @Vertigo.
 

Vertigo

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I've read Anomaly as well and think I liked a tinge better than you did. Probably because I was more interested in the religious, social, and political aspects of the first contact.

Thanks for putting the work into this @Vertigo.
That actually was my problem in that he didn't flesh out those religious, social and political aspects more. It's a difficult one as I generally did like the book as far as it went* but at only 200 pages it is by modern standards more a novella rather than a novel and I feel it would have been worth inflating that book size somewhat by exploring the religious, social and political aspects in much greater depth. As it was he mentioned them just enough to get me interested but not enough to be satisfying. Just a little more on that would probably have comfortably lifted my assessment from 3 to 4 stars.

Also to be fair I did get the ebook for free which does make it pretty good value for money! :D And from a publishing perspective that free offer has inspired me (a sceptical self-published reader) to buy more of his work.

*despite my issues with the plausibility of having an elementary school teacher being elevated to a team of scientists it undoubtedly contributed much to making the story more accessible to more people.
 

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