Cover Image: Walking to Aldebaran

Walking to Aldebaran

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Walking to Aldebaran is an absolute corker of a novella. I loved it - if you enjoy science fiction, it’s a no-brainer, but this story is more than that. It’s about the slow (or fast! Err, you need to read it) descent into insanity of a man stranded alone inside a planet/ wormhole/ crypt! The main character, Gary Rendell, gets separated from his fellow crew members when they disembark from their ship to explore a strange planet-sized ‘rock’. It’s creepy, startling and SO WELL WRITTEN! You can’t help but like Gary - whether you should or not is another matter entirely! 

How Adrian Tchaikovsky manages to cram so much in to 140 pages will be why he’s the writer that I want to read (and why I’m not the writer 🤷🏼‍♀️). Oh, and I did like what was done with the names - Gary’s name will become clearer nearer the end of the story! 
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy of this fab book!
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A horror/SF mash up, with a giant mysterious ancient alien artifact at its core, and the monster in the story is not the monster you expect.

Completely different from Children of Time, but still in a good way.

The ending was a bit more 'horror' than I expected, but actually it did fit very well with the plot and the story did lead into it
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Recalls some other works

This novella reminds me very much of Harlan Ellison's "I have no mouth, and I must scream" from 1967. Read them yourself and see if you don't agree. There is a lot of Southern Reach here too.
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Walking to Aldebaran is a strange trip of a book with both science fiction and horror elements. Like Andy Weir's The Martian, this novella explores what may happen to an individual stranded on an alien planet with an internal focus. The different is that the MC in Walking to Aldebaran  is not alone; he meets various alien lifeforms on the way.

Rather than trying to explain what it was like and risk spoilers, it feels more appropriate to share stories and poems of which elements of this novella felt reminiscent.

1. The narrator's questionable mental state: "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
2. The narrator wonders how later generations will perceive him: "The Relic" by John Donne
3. The narrator is alone in space by himself: The Martian by Andy Weir
4. The narrator enters strange, new territory and speaks to a "sidekick" that can't talk back (us, the reader): Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Bum
5. The narrator goes through a physical journey in an unwelcoming environment composed of various stages / phases: Inferno by Dante Alighieri

The novella is told in the first person with the occasional second person address to "Toto," and it alternates between the present (stranded in space) and the past (the preparation for the expedition).

While this is a fascinating read, the narration doesn't feel entirely coherent and doesn't quite follow a logical procession of thought, especially when it alternates between past and present. (I don't see the reason for it and would have preferred it be told in chronological order, but maybe I'm missing out on the purpose for this given how I dnfed less than 50% of the way in.) I understand that this novella is told from the POV of someone seemingly on the verge of madness from all the time he's spent alone, trapped in his own thoughts and uncertain of what the future holds from him. This type of narration style is the type that'll be a hit or a miss depending on the reader and perhaps the type of read he or she is looking for at the time.

Content warning (as far as I read): use of God/Jesus as swear words, outright states that there's no God, shit, bal*s, violence and death, the narrator imagines being like a god at one point.

DNF @ 45%
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La última obra que ha caído en mis manos de Adrian Tchaikovsky no es una lectura fácil. La estructura escogida, un soliloquio de un personaje cuya estabilidad mental deja bastante que desear es de por sí complicada, pero es que además el autor ni quiere ni puede desvelar parte de la historia al principio de la obra, dejándonos un poco perdidos. Cuando empieza a usar flashbacks la fotografía comienza a revelarse ante nosotros y ayudados por la escasa longitud de Walking to Aldebaran conseguimos alcanzar un final satisfactorio, aunque el camino haya sido tortuoso.

Quizá debería haberme dado cuenta antes porque hay bastantes pistas sobre cuál es el principal referente de esta novela corta, pero el autor sabe cómo narrar para que lleguemos a empatizar con el protagonista, a pesar de las acciones que lleva a cabo. Un aspecto muy conseguido de la obra es la ambientación, extremadamente agobiante, con los pasos del protagonistas llevándole a través de un laberinto físico que asemeja al laberinto mental en el que se encuentra. También es capaz de hacer referencias a casi todos los terrores que comúnmente se asocian al espacio exterior y los extraterrestres, con mandíbulas, intestinos, ácidos estomacales y bastante casquería. 
En el libro también podemos ver algo de crítica a la sociedad actual y a los enfrentamientos de los políticos por «ponerse la medalla», pero es solo una pequeña pátina que enluce el resultado final. 
Lo que no me esperaba son los toques de humor que aparecen en la narración, a pesar del tono general de Walking to Aldebaran. Es un gran mérito del autor conseguir que este párrafo, por ejemplo, no desentone para nada en el libro:
“I was also one of the pilots, although space piloting is one of those situations where they should really equip you with a dog, so your job is to feed the dog and the dog’s job is to bite you if you touch any of the expensive equipment.”
Quizá estos toques de comedia oscura son lo que más me ha sorprendido de la obra, que resulta un poco difícil de comentar sin destriparla. Así que será mejor que la leas directamente, para que podamos conocer tu opinión.
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Una muy entretenida obra con dos líneas temporales que te mantienen interesado en todo momento. Un personaje muy carismático y unos seres alienígenas muy originales completan un libro muy recomendable.
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Unfortunately this novella missed the mark for me. It wasn't my favorite scifi read, but I appreciated Adrian Tchaikovsky's evolutionary world-building in Children of Time, and was intrigued by the premise of Walking to Aldebaran: in media res, we are plopped down with a stranded astronaut from some nebulous point in Earth's future. The circumstances of his stranding--how it happened, why he finds himself in an alien crypt--are revealed slowly, as he meanders his way through maze-like passages trying to stay alive.
What kept me from enjoying this was the epically casual writing: a meandering, first-person narrative which mostly amounts to "neurotic man rambles." Sorry, I live in the United States in 2019; I've got enough of that on my plate already. Whether the work delivered satisfyingly on its premise didn't really matter, because the narrative was so frustrating and in need of editorial discipline that each page felt like a chore. 
Thanks to @netgalley and Rebellion for providing a dARC for review.
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I was approved for this book AFTER the book was archive date so I was not actually able to read this.  I emailed the publisher but didn't hear back. I am still interested in reading and reviewing this novella.
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What a brilliant idea!
I was a bit surprised to find, when I started to write this review, that this was a novella rather than a book, just over 100 pages long.  Why was I so surprised?  Well, obviously I had noticed that it wasn't one of those very long books, but the world building was so completed that I didn't think that could have been done in such a short book.
It's not a happy story, but it is certainly a very interesting one, with a great idea at the base of the book.  In fact, it is such a good idea that I'm surprised the author didn't turn it into a longer book or series.  However, I guess that would mean it wouldn't pack such a punch.
The writing is split between what happens 'now' and what happened in the lead up, and it all fits together well.  There are some very interesting parts, especially when we realise the situation the astronaut is in, and by the time it was revealed how he ended up alone, I was very anxious to find out - the suspense had certainly been built!
The ending was a bit more 'horror' than I expected, but actually it did fit very well with the plot and it did lead into it, so I shouldn't have been so surprised - it all did rather make sense, in a very weird kind of way.  I'm not going to explain any more, so you need to read it and find out!
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This a short but incredibly gripping novella. It's the story of an astronaut who is on a mission exploring an unknown object at the edge of the solar system, and is told from a first person perspective as he navigates a bizarre world. It's difficult to discuss the story too much without spoilers, but it leads to a pretty satisfying conclusion and has some nasty, some thoughtful and some surprising twists on the way.

The author manages really well to drip feed details and hints of what is going on, and manages to keep the pages turning by switching to a narrative of the events that led to the current situation just when you think a revelation is due. This works brilliantly though, and the 2 strands of the story weave together really well to keep you engaged right the way through the book.

I'll certainly be reading more of Adrian Tchaikovsky's books in the near future.

My thanks to Solaris/Rebellion Publishing for an eARC via NetGalley of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s novella, ‘Walking to Aldebaran’, in exchange for an honest review.
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Fantastic, tremendous, thrilling. I count myself lucky to have found this book. Everything you could want from a science fiction novel, There are heroes and villains although it is difficult to tell who is who! Characters are well drawn and the world building is thorough. Much of the compelling nature of the story is based around the reader's connection to the fate of humanity and the skill with which the author has presented the alien culture so that when the inevitable clash between the two factions occurs it is difficult to know who to root for. 

The attention to detail to biology and zoology was really good, adding to the story without being overly technical, and thus it became another strong point. I probably learned more about some thing here than in science classes I had. Same goes for Adrian's Children of Time series. There's a lot of similarities here but can't help seeing all of his work stand out each of their own.
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I'm not usually a fan of this type of science fiction but I enjoyed reading this book and recommend it to any science fiction fan
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This is written in a present tense monologue, detailing the experiences of a man lost in a place on Mars he calls The Crypts. His goal is to survive and hopefully to find other humans.

I have to admit that the writing style didn't engage me. There were humorous moments and one liners, but it wasn't enough to make me want to follow the main character through endless tunnels with nothing really happening much of the time.

Other reviewers seem to love it, so I'm glad it's not the first thing I've read by this author.
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‘I think I used to talk to you because it kept me sane, but we’ve rather moved past that stage in the relationship, don’t you think?’

Walking to Aldebaran was a novella I simply could not put down – I devoured it in one sitting! I think part of what makes this such a compelling read is the narrative voice of our main character Gary Rendell. As he roams the desolate and scary passageways of the mysterious crypt you are utterly drawn in by his dry sarcasm, stream of conscious story telling and cultural references. He is such a rounded and interesting character that it made the story a joy to read. I liked how the plot is told in alternating chapters between the past (still being described by Gary) and present. I enjoyed that there was some backstory given to give you a snippet of what caused the mission to be started and the civil unrest back home. I loved the progression of the plot which built slight unease before knocking you dead with a twist I didn’t see coming.

It’s always hard to write 5 star reviews because I just want you to stop reading what I have to say and go read Walking to Aldebaran – you wont regret it! Thank you to NetGalley & Rebellion – Solaris for a copy of the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This review is part of a larger post about all books I read in the month

I decided to switch it up and read some science fiction after a glut of fantasy and urban fantasy. I turned to the short story Walking to Aldebaran by Adrian Tchaikovsky. The story is told by astronaut Gary Rendell. Gary has gone on a mission across the stars to investigate an alien structure. Disaster strikes not long after landing and Gary is alone and lost inside the structure with something or somethings lurking around every corner.

I enjoyed this short story mainly for the witty way in which Tchaikovsky tells the story through Gary's POV. The story switches between the present and the past as Gary recounts how he has ended up in his unique predicament while he wanders through the endless dark tunnels trying to survive. The story is rather light hearted because of Gary's witty story telling until the very end when it gets rather much darker. If you are a science fiction fan and want something that doesn't take ages to read then give Walking to Aldebaran a go.
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Scientists were baffled when the Kaveney probe, sent to investigate a new planet in the Kuiper belt, turned up nothing.  The math checked out.  There was definitely something out there yanking gravity’s chain, and the prime candidate was one of those elusive far-out planets, yet the probe’s instruments showed nothing, nada, zilch.  A project years in the making for nothing more than a little comet dust and a cosmic whiff of disappointment.  But then the probe began to send back pictures all on its own, and what they revealed was even more baffling than all that nothingness.  They appeared to show some kind of alien artefact.  Further testing was inconclusive—the results were maddeningly odd and confusing, but the dye had been cast.  Human curiosity is insatiable, so there was little doubt someone would assemble a team to go and check things out first-hand.  The only question was could we get our collective shit together long enough to make it a coordinated, multinational effort?

Gary Rendell was one of the lucky few chosen for the mission.  But then Gary had always been lucky in life.  Lucky to be born in this new Age of Discovery; lucky to be able to pursue his dreams; lucky to be part of the advanced mission team that breached the artefact; lucky to have his name etched in the history books for achieving first contact; lucky to survive the disaster that ambushed his team; lucky to stumble across the Mother Machine (spoiler alert!); lucky to be lost and alone and starving, wandering the nightmarish halls of a crypt, where terrifying monsters lurk in the dark and the laws of physics took a vacation.  Lucky.  So very lucky.

Heh, books like this are what keep me returning to the science fiction section of my library time and time again. Gary’s snarky first-person account was an excellent, highly immersive, escapist adventure.  With chapters that alternated between the discovery of the artefact and subsequent mission to his hilariously horrifying misadventures through the Crypt—we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto!  The story was short enough to be read in a single sitting but I forced myself to set it aside a few times to prolong the experience and savor that delicious twist which brought to mind the old adage: be careful what you wish for because you just might get it!

This novella was a welcome addition to my Goldilocks Zone shelf, so thank you NetGalley for providing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Yet another unusual take on sci-fi from Tchaikovsky, and we’ll up to his usual standard. The slow reveal of the protagonist’s transformation was quite shocking and truly alien in feel. Excellent!
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Space horror novella. When humanity finds an alien artifact beyond Pluto, the expedition to explore it goes very badly indeed; a surviving astronaut is deeply altered both physically and mentally. Appropriately creepy and much more horror-focused than Pohl’s Gateway to which it has some bare bones plot similarities.
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(A much shorter review than usual, since I have broken my left elbow and am typing with one hand in a cast.)

Not a particularly original story or even mash-up of tropes. Walking to Aldebaran piggy-backs on that time-honoured sub-genre of Big Dumb Object stories. Lots of cool ideas and set pieces from Adrian Tchaikovsky, but very little that is surprising or truly interesting above and beyond the skill of the writing style itself. Thanks to NetGalley and Rebellion for the eARC.

Gary Rendell is your average everyman sci-fi protagonist: British, presumably white, with just the required amount of snark for a stranded astronaut. (Comparisons to The Martian are inevitable, I suppose; I see the similarities, especially in the characterization of the protagonists, but the stories themselves diverge markedly in plot.) This is one of my major points of criticism: I’m just bored of stories about smart, snarky white guys abandoned on alien worlds/alien devices/whatever. I liked it in Farscape (and at least he had companions). But we’ve seen this story so many times before. What, exactly, is new here?

The setting is … fine. Arguably this is a science-fiction horror novella, because the setting and plot are both creepy and existentially threatening. I do enjoy mind-twisty reminders that aliens and their designs would probably be so different from ours—so alien—as to be unfathomable. This is where I point out that I’m not criticizing Tchaikovsky’s skill as a writer or even his imagination.

Similarly, the twist is executed fine but not all that surprising and, again, not all that original. Seen it before.

It just seems like Walking to Aldebaran is one of those stories that got written because the author had the story in his head. That’s fine. Just because a story is worth writing, however, doesn’t automatically imply that it’s worth reading though. You can enjoy this story for its execution, but overall I just didn’t find it very stimulating.

Creative Commons BY-NC License
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In our not too-distant future, astronaut Gary Rendell is part of an international team sent to explore the mysterious object discovered at the edge of our solar system. Instrument readings show it should be the size of a planet; probes send back images of something far smaller but which always presents the same face to the camera even as it tries to orbit.

Gary considered himself lucky. Lucky to be living his childhood dream to be an astronaut, lucky to make the selection for the first mission that might prove alien life. Lucky indeed to survive the cluster-f that said mission turns in to. Lucky… yeah.

There is something quite familiar about a lot of the story: Gary walks the mysterious Crypts, encountering dangers and fellow travellers. I loved that there’s an alien encounter that never manages proper communication, but ends up being co-operative anyway – we don’t see enough of that in fiction, where it’s usual ray-guns blazing.

I could have read this short novella in one sitting, quite frankly. It’s dark and twisty, and a mix of sci-fi and horror. There’s also a huge ‘gotcha!’ that I didn’t quite see coming… I mean, I thought something towards the three-quarters mark, but then… Heh.

Very, very well written. I really should read more of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s work! Recommended.
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