Walking to Aldebaran
by Adrian Tchaikovsky
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Pub Date 28 May 2019 | Archive Date 30 May 2019
I’m lost. I’m scared. And there’s something horrible in here.
My name is Gary Rendell. I’m an astronaut. When they asked me as a kid what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, “astronaut, please!” I dreamed astronaut, I worked astronaut, I studied astronaut.
I got lucky; when a probe exploring the Oort Cloud found a strange alien rock and an international team of scientists was put together to go and look at it, I made the draw.
I got even luckier. When disaster hit and our team was split up, scattered through the endless cold tunnels, I somehow survived.
Now I’m lost, and alone, and scared, and there’s something horrible in here.Lucky me.
Lucky, lucky, lucky.
A new standalone novella by the Arthur C Clarke Award-winning author of Children of Time.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 148 members
5 / 5 stars
So many of my favorite quotes in this novella happen towards the end, and I’m unwilling to use them. That would give too much away, I think. But then, there are SO MANY good quotes everywhere! And Walking to Aldebaran was a good therapeutic read. Maybe this will get me to start talking to myself as I wander around life, too, though I won’t call it Toto. Never liked the Wizard of Oz—I know, that’s just horrible. Don’t judge me too much, please.
“If they didn’t want to be eaten, they shouldn’t be so delicious."
Walking to Aldebaran is a hundred page novella from the master of, well, so many things: Adrian Tchaikovsky. This is only my third Tchaikovsky book—after The Tiger and the Wolf and Children of Time. Walking to Aldebaran reminds me quite a bit of Children, actually. Not so much the plot, as how it’s written. But that would make sense, wouldn’t it?
As for the plot, Tchaikovsky combines the erudite pilot Gary Rendell with some smart-ass in order to win my heart. Or, at least, I assume. Dude is quite possibly my favorite character of the year. Rendell is an astronaut tasked—along with his fellow crewmates—with exploring an alien artefact that hovers just at the edge of our solar system, known by him as ‘the Frog God’, due to it’s froggy visage. But, shortly after entering these Crypts (yeah, they’re the Crypts once he’s inside), a horrible fate befalls him and his crew, stranding Gary all alone in the darkness, forcing him to either curl up and die or traverse the Crypts afoot until he finds his way home. The narrative in Walking to Aldebaran picks up shortly after this (and after Gary begins talking to himself), but features frequent flashbacks that provide the reader with insight about how he got into this mess. And as the Crypts seem to bend time and space so that they can exit/enter into countless alien realms—he’ll be walking for a while. Hence the name.
Seeing as it only took me a handful of hours to finish it (albeit space across a few days), it proved less a journey and more a… jaunt. But still, with an adventurous and exciting novella like this, the length really doesn’t matter. I mean, I would’ve loved for it to have been longer… but it really didn’t need to be. Tchaikovsky knows what he’s doing, and Walking is fitted to match.
I seriously enjoyed this one. Loved it, actually. The narrator, the concept, the setting. The character arc. The quote-unquote “growth”. The cover was really nice, too. A solid 5-stars, I’d say. The real question is whether I’d justify the $10 ebook price, though. Now, normally there’d be no way I’d even consider it. $10 for a 100 page book, a couple hours read? Nah. But Aldebaran is really, really good. So… I’m torn. I guess, like, may…be? I’d definitely justify reading it, no matter how you get there.
Reviewed at: https://arefugefromlife.wordpress.com/
Walking to Aldebaran by Adrian Tchaikovsky is a wonderful, humorous, sci-go novella. Protagonist Gary Rendell provides a funny and often chilling view of his time stranded on an alien artefact.
Adrian Tchaikovsky has a real gift for developing characters that you just can’t help but root for. In times of despair, relative joy and sometimes insanity you get a real sense of astronaut Gary Rendell as a living breathing person.
This review was based on an eARC by Netgalley.
I'm not often a sci-fi guy and haven't read any for a while but I'm really glad I ended my 'sci-fast' with this delicious, darkly-fun novella by Adrian Tchaikovsky.
The story concerns a mission to a mysterious planet-sized artefact, called The Crypts, that has been discovered near Pluto. Of course, said mission turns out to be a bad idea...leaving us following the experiences of a sole English astronaut, Gary Rendell, who is lost in the mind-bending, physics-devouring. alien-inhabited world of The Crypts.
Saying much more on the plot would spoil things but Gary has all manner of strange experiences on his journey, and narrates it all in a wonderfully sarcastic manner.
This is sci-fi with humour, mystery, tension, horror and big ideas. I enjoyed it a lot!
A light humored story about an adventure of first contact. Kind of messed up in places and gets creepier as the story goes on. I loved it.
I was not sure what to expect of this, but found it remarkably engaging. The protagonist being from the UK definitely helped, as the character's dark humour emerged. The ending, and indeed the latter part of the book did become bleaker and darker, but I still found this an enjoyable book. And a fellow Leodensian too !
If you fancy something quite dark, a bit quirky and different, give this a go.
I had to think about this one for a while to be sure of what I wanted to say about it. Even to be sure what I think about it. It hit me with quite a punch, so it was effective in provoking a reaction, but did I like it? And more importantly, do I recommend it?
The short answer is yes, although this novella wasn’t at all what I was expecting from Tchaikovsky this time around. Here’s the long answer.
This is the story, told in the first person, of astronaut Gary Rendell, a member of an international expedition sent to explore a giant, possibly alien artefact that has been discovered out beyond Pluto. And then something happens. Gary is left trapped and alone inside the artefact, walking through endless tunnels, trying to survive and maybe, just possibly, find his way back home.
One of Tchaikovsky’s strengths is his ability to get inside the head of a character and show you things from their point of view. He’s done this incredibly successfully with protagonists as diverse as sentient spiders (Children of Time) and a genetically engineered bio form that thinks of itself as a Good Dog (Dogs of War). In each case, the “voice” was distinctive and different. He’s done it again with human astronaut Gary. From the first line of the story, I felt I knew this character:
"Today I found something I could eat and something I could burn to keep back the darkness. That makes today a good day."
The voice is reminiscent of Andy Weir’s The Martian, colloquial and wisecracking but with a darker edge.
The narrative swings between the present (walking through the tunnels) and the past (the expedition and what happened when they arrived) but unlike many dual narratives, it is perfectly balanced between the two, present action alternating with exposition in a way that is never boring but gradually ratchets up the tension.
It’s a fast read and a compelling one, with little stops along the way for a bit of reflection and philosophy, a bit of deeper meaning:
"I feel like, in coming out here, we’re bleeding our culture, the humanness of us, out into the void."
But they don’t last long, and within a few lines, the light, humorous tone is back:
"I’d eat humble pie with every conspiracy theorist in the world if they’d only lend me one of their tinfoil hats right now."
Gary meets all kinds of creatures in the tunnels and there is plenty of danger, gore and even horror, but it’s all kind of playful, darkly funny, not too serious. And then, suddenly, the whole tone changes and real horror descends. I won’t say any more, but I actually had to stop reading for a moment because it was such a shock. Tchaikovsky knows how to pack a wallop, as Gary himself might say.
This novella is beautifully judged in length, tone and pacing, with a superb ending. A worthy addition to Tchaikovsky’s body of science fiction. I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do next.
A digital A.R.C. of this novel was supplied to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
A novella by award winning author Adrian Tchaikovsky, Walking to Aldebaran is the journey of Gary Rendell, astronaut, through the depths and horrors of the Crypts.
The Crypts are aeromes that lie within the entrances to the Artefact (or ‘Frog God’), a black-hole type planetary object beyond Pluto, to which Gary and a party of fellow astronauts have travelled.
Needless to say things aren’t all plain sailing, and a number of encounters with both amiable and disturbing creatures occur, separating the crew.
I enjoyed this quick read – a rare foray into mainstream sci-fi for me.
I've heard nothing but good things about Tchaikovsky. It was a good book, couldn't really put it down after the first third of it. It's really easy to read, the pace is great, it's also funny and chilling. I had a really good time reading it so I ended up rounding to 4 stars.
An astronaut, Gary Rendell, is part of the team in charge of exploring the Crypts, a.k.a the Artefact, a.k.a. the Frog God, an alien structure found past Pluto. The story is told from Gary's point of view using two different timelines which loosely converge at some point. It's a story about hope and human nature, but it's also a story about losing what makes us human.
Out at the edge of our galaxy, a Big Dumb Object appears. Astronaut Gary Rendell joins a team tasked with going out and attempting to make contact. Things go sideways, and we're left with Gary's first-person account of what he's experiencing in the Crypt, as it comes to be known. The combination of being cut off from his fellow crew members, wandering around this artifact, and having a lack of food, means Gary's not the most reliable of narrators. We're just Toto, along for this wild ride.
I won't spoil any of it, because in this novella, the joy is in the journey--and this journey kept me riveted. In fact, I had to portion out my reading because I oddly felt that I was plowing through it too quickly. Tchaikovsky continues his streak of impressing the heck out of me. Every science fiction and fantasy fan should be reading his stuff.
Gary Rendell, an astronaut, and his team explore the Crypts, a nickname for an unknown alien structure floating past Pluto.
Initially the novella was super hard to get into as I was thoroughly confused. The novella starts to make more sense, even with the flashbacks. The plot was good with the description of the Crypts and other alien lifeforms being my favorite. I loved being able to picture the new and strange aliens.
Gary was alright as a character. I liked reading about his descend into loneliness and lunacy. His inner monologues were interesting as it helped explained his thought process and the rational behind each decision.
The writing style was unique and entertaining once you got used to it. I'm not used to words randomly repeating to make a bigger emphasis on a point.
The ending wasn't great as I was initially confused about what happened and why. Once I pondered it I started to understand it but that also means I didn't like it. Although I wasn't expecting a happy ending for Gary I was hoping for more.
In summary it was a good sci-fi novella and I would strongly suggest it to Tchaikovsky fans or fans of alien first contact novels. My favorite novel by Tchaikovsky is [book:Ironclads|34466691] (I loved it).
Thank you to Netgalley for this ARC.
A short, sharp hit of mindbending sci-fi of the best strain. Redolent of 2001, this book is a straightforward take on the 'artefact found in space' subgenre which is made all the more compelling by the dry humour of the narrator.
Although heady metaphysics are discussed the writing reminded me of 'The Martian' in that its written in a chummy, familiar way which draws the reader into the world.
A quick but brilliant read and a definite primer for Tchaikovsky's writing.
I read Adrian Tchaikovsky’s 2019 stand-alone novella “Walking to Aldebaran” in kindle ebook, which I received from Solaris Books through netgalley.com, in exchange for publishing an honest review on social media platforms and on my book review blog. The novella's publication date is expected to be 28 May 2019. Adrian Tchaikovsky is the pen-name of British writer Adrian Czajkowski, previously known for his Shadows of the Apt series (which I have not read), and his award-winning Children of Time (which I have read and rated highly). Note that the work is in British English, and I may change a spelling here and there in my American English comments.
The story is told in first-person by astronaut Gary Rendell, lost and endlessly wandering the passages of a big alien artifact in the Oort Cloud beyond Pluto. Chapters alternate between two plot lines. The first concerns his exploration of and survival in “the Crypts.” There are the occasional truly alien Aliens with whom he struggles to understand and communicate, or at least co-exist. He forms some theories about the trans-dimensional nature of the artifact, that point towards its purpose. As the only character, the reader has no real choice but to identify with Gary, in a situation that initially draws a comparison to Mark Watney of The Martian. The second plot is the backstory of the international mission of which he is a part. His mysterious current situation can be understood only through his recollection of events from the backstory. One of the strengths of the story unfortunately cannot be told without spoiler. That twist reminded of the great science fiction writer Gene Wolfe.
In my mind, novella was the perfect length for this, and it is getting my top recommendation.
I haven't read anything by the author before, but after this book he will be the author to follow. I really liked the book starting with the language. It was sometimes difficult because of unknown words, but after looking them up they are so precise and rich in meaning that I appreciate them even more. The author's imagination is so great, mostly concerning the different creatures. I also liked the main character, was struggling and suffering with him and wished him luck. The ending was suprising, but because of it I appreciate and like the book even more.
I have no idea how to review this without spoilers.
I was riveted.
I'll re-read it.
Any comparisons may well turn out to be spoilers, so I hesitate to say what this book reminds me of. For those that want an atmospheric idea from other books: (view spoiler: I'd say "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Plath crossed with "The Martian" crossed with "Leviathan." It also reminded me of "The Luminous Dead." ). But I will note that while Tchaikovsky might have been inspired by Mark Watney from "The Martian," he went in entirely different directions.
'Aldebaran' is a red star. The name is Arabic and means 'follower,'because it seems to follow the Pleides. Interesting choice, although like others, my reading eye slurred it to 'Alderaan' of Princess Leia's time.
For those that read it, I'd be interested to discuss (view spoiler)
Four and a half aliens, strictly because it doesn't quite suit my must-own requirements.
I absolutely loved this novella from the moment I picked it up to the moment I put it down. It starts out very light. The protagonist is a funny guy. He's lost on an alien artifact humans have been calling "the Crypts."
The story is told in two timelines, present and past. The past timeline outlines how he came to be lost in the Crypts and tells us a little about the state of the world before he left earth. In the present, he's wandering the Crypts encountering all manner of alien life.
The writing was very good. I enjoyed the stream of consciousness style here, and that isn't always my thing. Tchaikovsky employed it very well. This was a context in which it made sense, and it was easy to follow. Another note about the writing, the present timeline is written in present tense. I know for some readers that can be an issue, but I enjoyed it and thought it brought an added level of excitement to the story.
The pace, initially, is ambling. There are a few exciting things happening, but what drew me in was the humor. Gary Rendell is just a guy you want to hang out with. There are some definite elements of horror, but they were balanced well with the humor. As we near the end the tone becomes darker and darker. Nothing is what it seems.
I have a feeling some of the science in this science fiction has no foundation in reality (disclaimer, I know nothing about physics), but there were several fun little nods to biology. Rendell comments on the way the various aliens are formed and how and why they might have developed that way and I thought it was a nice way to flesh out the MC. There were also a few nods to human psychology, and those passages were some of my favorites.
Overall I thought it was inventive and creative. I'd recommend it to readers who enjoy elements of horror with their science fiction or fans of Tchaikovsky's other work.
Thank you to Netgalley and Solaris for providing me with an eARC to review.
I love Adrian Tchaikovsky's works and this book was as amazing as always. It was a fast sci fi read and a perfect mixture of humor and horror.
Do you happen to know the movie "The Cube" (and/or maybe it's sequel)? What started out as a relatively straightforward space adventure turns into quite similar mindfuckery.
Gary is one of a number of astronauts from all kinds of countries on Earth that are sent to a mysterious Artifact that looks a bit like a frog face. It's huge and somehow not entirely abiding by the laws of physics and we've discovered it behind Pluto.
As these things go, once we finally get over our usual squabbling, we're still not really technologically advanced enough for any of this but like in the movie "Prometheus" we don't care and just wing it (because this is always a good idea, right?).
Anyway, shit goes wrong, of course, and we follow Gary through the maze that is the interior of the froggy face, slowly piecing together what has happened and therefore, maybe, what this place actually is and is capable of.
And of course there is a twist.
It didn't take me too long to pick up hints here and there and my theory turned out to be correct, but that didn't diminish my joy in any way since getting there was delightfully creepy. Body horror, darkness, alien creatures and technology, the fear of the unknown ... it was all here, wonderfully mixed together into a great and very atmospheric scifi horror story.
After having read, and loved, Children of Time by the author, I was quite interested by reading more of him, and this novella was nicely timely!
The story, the tone, the context were quite different from the big and serious "Children of Time", which didn't surprised me: a novella is a very interesting format to show an author personality and range of writing capacities. "Walking to Aldebaran", a short story, a creepy tale, with a mystery hidden in plain sight, is one perfect example. It's main characteristic and appeal is its tone, a dry desperate one, as the hero progress in the nightmarish maze name the crypts and speaks to an imaginary friend, Toto (like the dog in "The magician of Oz"). If the story isn't funny at all, the way it's told is absolutely delicious!
The narrative is cleverly woven, going back and forth from the present to the past in a very comfortable fashion - no effort and no frustration either for the reader. There are some references, apt to speak to the modern reader; even if there aren't quite credible for the narrator, living in a distant futur, this kind of bending is quite acceptable for our reading pleasure!
The atmosphere is downright horrific. It reminded me, for its mix of dread, disgusting-revolting-but-rather-fun facts, its practical and bizarre atmosphere, the Peggy Sue's books by Serge Brussolo that I used to read when my oldest daughter was a child and a fan (yes, there are children books, the kind of weird and horrific stories some children crave!).
The end was good, and quite unpredictable until the last pages - even if, retrospectively, many hints were given. Still, I was a bit dissatisfied, as I'd have liked some points cleared up. An epilogue, from the other humans point of view for instance, would have been nice.
To conclude a very good story, funny and horrifying in the same time, riveting from the very beginning till the end!
It’s worth saying that this is a novella. A short read that packs a punch. Light humour and some rough language. I didn’t think I would like it but was surprised that I did. I will definitely check out more by this author who I have skipped over in the past. I only read it because it was a free pre publication copy from Head of Zeus . I’ll look more closely next time I see. Adrian Tchaikovsky on a book cover.
Walking to Aldebaran by Adrian Tchaikovsky is a little gem of a book. It's actually a novella, but it's worth the price of entry.
Gary Rendell is an astronaut, but he is lost and at least slightly crazed. We alternate between his present, wandering through a bizarre alien maze, encountering others, but not finding the other members of his mission, and the past, giving the lead up to the current mission.
In short, a probe to the outer reaches of the solar system found a giant and bizarre... structure (Gary calls it the face of a frog god) that seems to be fractal in layout. It swallows the probe, but the probe eventually reappears, sending readings that indicate that the structure may actually be a portal to other worlds. After much political fighting, an international mission is sent out to explore the structure. Gary is a member of the mission.
Once there, they find a half-built rocket that looks like something out of a pulp magazine, but is unimaginably ancient. a 'landing' party, including our protagonist, is sent down to establish a base and start exploring, which is of course when things go horribly wrong.
I will admit, I spent most of my book thinking of this book as a modern equivalent to Lovecraft. As a result, it wasn't until the last few pages that I finally figured what classic piece this book was also a retelling of. It was that realization that bumped up my appreciation of the story. I won't say what it was a retelling of, since I don't want to spoil it for other people.
But I will say that if you are a fan of the cosmic horror that Lovecraft praised, you will like this book.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for letting me read this
WOooh-hoooo! What a ride ... walk!! Creepy & intriguing with self-mockery I appreciate.
This has been my first book by author Adrian Tchaikovsky, and certainly not my last!
Sci-Fi is not really the cup of tea that I usually take, but I am really glad I drank this ... or rather gobbled it up pretty quickly despite its being hot and spicy and very unusual. There are also some slight effects of disorientation and dizzyness... also, bewilderment, but in rather a good way.
This book is gripping, atmospheric, stratospheric and rather breathtaking, especially the end that kind of sucker-punches you.
And then I went and read it again.
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