Cover Image: Walking to Aldebaran

Walking to Aldebaran

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I've loved his Children of Time series so this was rather a disappointment. Read like a "The Martian" copy. Don't get me wrong, some nice ideas but really rather shallow. Having said that, there was a nice pay off at the end.
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This one took me a long time to rate and to write a review, it is just too complex and I wanted to give myself time to process. I didn’t expect the author would go where he went with the story and it was one of the most interesting and insane books I’ve ever read. That being said, I believe it would make a fantastic artsy science fiction movie, because the story is amazing, but the writing just didn’t work for me. Some sentences and words were too complicated to understand and to follow and, although I thought that was unnecessary, I can understand how some people would get even more immersed in this book because of the writing, but for me it was struggle to finish such a short book, even if I wanted to keep following the main character on his journey. I recommend it a lot if you want a deep character-driven sci-fi that will mess with your head.
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https://www.runalongtheshelves.net/blog/2019/5/6/walking-to-aldebaran-by-adrian-tchaikovsky

One of the attractions for science fiction is that temptation to boldly go. The unknown lies in the infinite and we want to get there and understand it. Of course, there is always a possibility that we humans will be over ambitious and bite off more than we can chew. In a vast universe there are going to be things way beyond our current understanding of science and society and when we face such a challenge, we may find ourselves clearly out of our depth. Adrian Tchaikovsky gives us a tale of one such expedition that while narrated by one of the most cheerful characters you’ll meet clearly underlines we all have our limits.

Our narrator is Gary Rendell and he is a bit lost travelling an endless dark corridor with no regular food or other company just the occasional dead alien fellow traveller. He is currently residing inside ‘the Crypts’ part of an immense alien artefact cut off from everyone he knows and as he wanders and meets other lost travellers from other expeditions, he tells us the tale of Earth’s greatest scientific discovery and the doomed group that went off to investigate it

Following the deep space Kaveney probe finding a mysterious gravitational distortion that eventually turns out to be smaller but weirder.  What obviously looks to have been built and was cruelly described as the ‘sacred effigy of the Galactic Frog God’. An international team is set up and sent in deep sleep to travel the furthest anyone has gone to investigate what is inside.  Probes get lost in it as soon as they enter. Ultimately Gary and a few other of the scientist astronauts decide to go in and then it all goes horribly wrong.

This will be one of my more circumspect reviews as the pleasure is in the unveiling of Gary’s tale. What I loved was two-fold the strangeness of the places that the astronauts visit is absolute – dimensions, gravity and all sorts of weird creatures reside in this ancient place in ways that make little sense. Clearly older than humanity but its purpose is unclear – is there even anyone left in charge anymore.  Its unsettling and undeniably an alien environment. The reader alongside Gary doesn’t know what to expect – this was way beyond a standard first contact tale. The humans are just something in the way or possibly something to play with.

What makes it doubly horrific is that Gary is just so engaging.  He has humour and isn’t the standard lead lantern jaw character he is very much just the driver of the team shuttle but very glad to finally make his dream reality.  In alternating chapters explaining his current predicament we get his insights into the build up to the expedition and the playful set of astronauts who came together to make history. Little human moments such as a lead scientist with a Doctor Who scarf; a team learning Danish to annoy those back home and a Russian stating that the USSR has no doubt already been there.  It’s all quite light and funny pricking the idea of a big 2001 style sombre mission which makes bad things happening to these people more upsetting and emotionally investing. Gary’s journey I think is the most tragic as he just wants to get home but as we start to look around and pull the pieces of the tale together, we realise that is unlikely and something has a more sinister intention in mind for our lead.  Tchaikovsky builds up the tension and when the plot is finally revealed its both monstrous and heart-breaking in what Gary is hiding from.

Very hard to read this and not think of Event Horizon and its very much a horror SF tale but I think with a better emphasis on character. Gary reminds me of the lead narrator in the Martian – positive and funny but here rather than survival against impossible odds and science saving the day we instead have a battle against something so much more advanced than humanity that it doesn’t even come across as human. Is there any escape…. well have a read and find out but this one will creep into your mind long afterwards….
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I love pd this humerous, laugh out loud novella. Science fiction at its best. This book made a refreshing change to the space operas I normally read. Brilliant and thank you for the laughs,
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Summary
This follows Gary, an astronaut who is lost, wandering The Crypts - an alien artifact located just beyond Pluto. As Gary wanders in the dark, he talks to himself, relaying everything that has happened to get him to where he is.

Overview
This is a short, 140ish page novel, told in an internal monologue format - Gary tells his story to the reader as if they were there. 
This is high science fiction! The aliens, science, setting, are nothing similar to Earth or humans. Which can make picturing the creatures or scene a little tricky. This is definitely not a sci-fi beginner book.

What I Liked
1. I NEEDED to know what was going on! This story opens up and you have no idea how Gary got to where he is, what the Crypts are, or anything else for that matter. And I was completely sucked in by all the open questions. I needed answers.
2. Both the setting and aliens were so unique and descriptive. Nothing was humanoid which I really appreciated and the Crypts were so creepy and atmospheric.
3. I loved the bits of humor that were thrown in. This story overall is bleak and depressing, so the bits of humor gave it a perfect balance.
4. I really liked the style choice for this story. I thought it was such a unique choice to have the main character talking to the reader as an internal monologue. And it worked perfectly considering the character's mental state. It was just such a perfect choice.
5. The twist ending. Oh man, so good.

What I Didn't Like
1. For about 3/4 of this book I kept questioning if this story had a point. It was very meandering and slow (it took me 4 days to read 140 pages). And with all the heavy description for the world and alien creatures, I felt a little bogged down.

Overall, this is one of the strangest stories I've ever read (in a good way!). And it has a really great sci-fi twist! If you're a science fiction reader, I definitely recommend checking this out!
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This was pretty much designed to hit all my buttons - a horror/SF mash up, with a giant mysterious and ancient alien artifact at its core? Oh yes please. It's not hard to extract strands of it's DNA - think Rendezvous With Rama, Cube, Diamond Dogs (Alastair Reynolds, not David Bowie), Alien, Rogue Moon - but then again, some of those works are my very favourites, and this can stand with them. Fats paced and just the right length, this is one to enjoy and then to savour on rereading.
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Gary Rendell is the lucky (lucky, so lucky!) astronaut chosen as part of a team to investigate a mysterious artifact found in the outer reaches of the solar system. As Gary descends into the depths of the artifact, he also descends further and further into insanity as the Crypts slowly strip of him of any remaining humanity. 

Coming into this book after The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling, I was prepared for a novella heavy on survival horror elements. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Tchaikovsky takes us on a tour of the human psyche, slowly dismantling Gary bit by bit as walks through the mysterious Crypts. His knowledge of time, of distance, and of any human metric you or I might use to measure our lives has been rendered meaningless.

The novel opens on Gary’s discovery of an alien corpse, which he is thrilled by – not only is it edible, it’s also flammable. An opportunity to keep the darkness at bay. Gary’s madness is a quirky one – while his actions are eminently practical, we get our first glimpse of the humor present in this book when Gary names the strange insectoid explorer of old Clive. Later on, he provides a full backstory for where Clive might have come from and where he might have been going.

It had a dozen many-jointed legs, and I snapped them off and piled them up, a camp fire just like my old scoutmaster taught me, and I used one of my shonky little jury-rigged pieces of nonsense to spark it into flame. 

Tchaikovsky moves us between the past and future, slipping back and forth as Gary’s thoughts and narration scatter between the two. We have small snippets of an optimistic back-story. Once, Gary was a bright-eyed youngster who wanted nothing more than to explore; between this and the humorous, eccentric narration, it’s often difficult in the beginning to truly feel the gravity of the situation Gary is in.

We encounter numerous fun little aliens in the first half of the novella. Some cute little egg-shaped machine-like guys, a few little fellows shaped like pyramids with a fondness for arts and crafts. However, we’re also introduced to the dangers of the Crypts, which are filled to the brim with monstrous ambush predators. 

I see it unfold itself from the far wall. Most of the Crypt fauna are low-energy ambush predators, capable of lying dormant a long time between meals. This one had been camouflaged amongst the carvings, long worm body clutched to the wall, terminating in a horrifying assemblage of hooked arms about a saw-edged mouth. 

All this ramps up gradually to a peak about three quarters in. While I won’t spoil, I will share my reaction: 

“Oh. Oh god. WTF.”

“Jesus.”

“Fuck.”

Which really sums up all of my feelings on the matter, to be quite frank. Excellent, horrifying ending. This book had me fooled for quite a while, thinking that it was going to continue to quirky with fun little aliens, but I was so, so wrong. I’ll definitely be checking out more of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s works in the future. I’ve had Children of Time recommended to me several times now, and it might be about time to give that a shot…

My only complaint about this book was that I felt the pacing was a little off at times. It would have been nice if the slide towards the conclusion was a little smoother; there were several spots that seemed to plateau and did not move along as well as they should have. This is especially evident in novellas such as this – with only 140 pages to work with, each page needs to be important to the overall story.
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Walking to Aldebaran is a standalone novella from acclaimed writer Adrian Tchaikovsky. It centres around Astronaut Gary Rendell as he navigates through a place he calls the Artefact. Just past Pluto and recently discovered, the Artefact is an alien construction of chambers and tunnels. Gary is part of a group of Astronauts that are tasked with exploring the new discovery. The only problem is, Gary is lost. Split up from his team, he makes his way through the tunnels in an effort to reunite with them, however, they aren’t alone up there.

Tchaikovsky blends sci-fi and horror masterfully over the books 140 pages. I’ve really enjoyed his books, I read ‘Children of Time’ last year, and was fortunate to get a proof copy of Children of Ruin a few months ago. Walking to Aldebaran reminded me somewhat of Harlan Ellison’s ‘I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream’, exploring the horrors of an unknown and seemingly endless labyrinth.

I think the only problem I had with this book is there wasn’t more of it! However it’s nice to have something to sate my appetite until (I hope) there’s another in the Children of Time series. Early days, I know. Four out of five stars.
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This is the first thing I've read by Adrian Tchaikovsky, but it won't be the last. I'm amazed at how much story was packed into a relatively small amount of pages. The world building was interesting, and the whole tale played with my brain. It also helped that there was some humor, espeically at the first. It really helped me get into the story. The aliens were very alien, as was the setting. I really liked it!
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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC. Adrian Tchaikovsky really knows how to pull a reader into a story. This book is told by a member of a space expedition to investigate a planet sized object outside the orbit of Pluto. The narrator alternates timelines between his time in the object and the time period starting with the formation of the expedition. The story only gets weirder, grosser, and more confrontational from there. Tchaikovsky does a great job of putting together an entertaining story while leaving much up to the readers interpretation.
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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.
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Due to be published by Solaris, 28th May 2019. 
This review copy from Netgalley.
A science fiction/horror novella. When a strange artefact, looking like a giant frog-face, appears on the farthest edge of our solar system a combined expedition is sent to investigate. Inside, there's an atmosphere and a maze of tunnels. What is its purpose? Does it link to other stars, or maybe even to other galaxies or even universes? One lone astronaut, Gary Rendell, survives and this is his story. It's told in the present, alternating with chapters of the past and how he got to be wandering around the maze of weirdness and a somewhat altered post-human state.

"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. Now I’m lost, and alone, and scared, and there’s something horrible in here."

A beautifully written and fascinating examination of one human in impossible circumstances, doing what he needs to do to survive.
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Bwahahahahahaha!

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.
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I loved 'Children of Time' by Adrian Tchaikovsky, so I was eager to read this novella.
I was hooked from the beginning. 

Tchaikovsky writes well-rounded, believable characters. Here he lets poor Gary Rendell tell his story. We learn how he became stranded from his ship-mates whilst exploring a mysterious artefact in deep space, and his herculean efforts to be reunited with them. This is no easy ride, but our hero has the guts and the sheer instinct to survive to keep him focused on his quest. 

In creating the crypts, Tchaikovsky has given us a tantalising glimpse into the depths of his extraordinary imagination - an inspired feast - but however strange the crypts appear, they are always written in a compelling and believable way. 

The story is told with a humorous touch - Gary talks to the reader, telling us we are 'Toto,' to stop him from going mad, and his observations lighten the otherwise horrific atmosphere. He deals with everything in a matter-of-fact way - but he's been lost for a long time, and time is another crazy mixed up thing in the Crypts. He cannot give in to despair - it doesn't keep you alive.

This story taps into our greatest fears - unknown monsters lurking in the depths. Tchaikovsky takes this concept and flips it on its head, and we are forced to look at things from a different perspective. Up or down, right or wrong, and mad or bad all depend on your current position and viewpoint. 
This is SF at its best.

A digital copy of this novel was supplied to me by Solaris Books through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.
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Walking to Aldebaran by Adrian Tchaikovsky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You know those times when you are reading Harlan Ellison and you say to yourself, "Where are all the newer writers doing DARK FREAKING TWISTS in their SF, full of humor, horror, and anxiety?"

Ah, good news, ya'll! This one fits the bill. :) In fact, I think I should make a little bookshelf named "MUAHAHAHAHAHA".

Yep. Expect a first-contact scenario playing out in flashback, wry and disturbing humor as we catch up with our poor pedestrian walking through the halls of the Frog God, and explore distant worlds and galaxies by foot. Expect, hunger, thirst, SO MANY OTHER aliens in the same boat, and especially...

A wonderful twist or two.

Come on. If Tchaikovsky is channeling Harlan, YOU KNOW it has to come. :) Ah, transformations. Well-rounded characters. Muahahahahahaha.

So fun. :)
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I really liked "Children of Time" book, and was hoping I will like the Walking to Aldebaran, but I didn't enjoy it as much. I liked the first half of the book and I liked learning the story of what happened and what was that mysterious artifact found and how the protagonist got there. But it kind of fizzled out when it came to talking about the artifact itself and what it was. It felt like the author didn't actually come up with a clear idea of what it was supposed to be, and how to end the book, so it left me rather dissatisfied at the end. There is a lot of cruelty and lot of graphic violence and the character degradation.

I received a digital copy of the book via NetGalley
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Bizarre, horrific sci-fi that I couldn't put down - I read it in one sitting.                       .
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I love this author, but I don't love this novella. It was good, but I was anxious for it to be over with. 

I really don't know what else to say. I should probably stop getting books off Netgalley to read as I kinda suck at reviews unless I love the book.
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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/
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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.
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