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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.

95 pages, Kindle Edition

First published May 28, 2019

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About the author

Adrian Tchaikovsky

154 books9,938 followers
ADRIAN TCHAIKOVSKY was born in Lincolnshire and studied zoology and psychology at Reading, before practising law in Leeds. He is a keen live role-player and occasional amateur actor and is trained in stage-fighting. His literary influences include Gene Wolfe, Mervyn Peake, China Miéville, Mary Gently, Steven Erikson, Naomi Novak, Scott Lynch and Alan Campbell.

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907 (27%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 575 reviews
Profile Image for carol..
1,532 reviews7,858 followers
January 26, 2021
'Aldebaran' is a red star whose name comes from the Arabic word for 'follower,' because it seems to follow the Pleides. Interesting choice, although like others, my reading eye slurred it to 'Alderaan,' Princess Leia's world, and I had to wonder if Tchaikovsky is playing with us, just a little. In this novella, scientists have discovered an unusual object and sent a team to explore. It contains some of the best of sci-fi: astronauts, exploration, discovery. Oh, and some of the worst of what can happen.

I have no idea how to review this without spoilers. That's probably okay, as the person telling the story puts spoiler warnings in as well (which was hysterical!).

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: . But I will note that while Tchaikovsky might have been inspired by Mark Watney from "The Martian," he went in entirely different directions.

For those that read it, I'd be interested to discuss (thematic spoiler) Ok, HUGE spoilers follow; don't read if you intend to read the story.

Four and a half aliens, strictly because it doesn't quite suit my must-own requirements.

*I did re-read it.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Rebellion Publishing for the arc.
Profile Image for Nataliya.
743 reviews11.8k followers
March 6, 2022
2020: Well, that was some well-done mindf*ck.

I read it, got to the end, sat there open-mouthed for a bit, then promptly went to the beginning and read it again, this time with the clarity of hindsight picking up on all those clues scattered around like a delicious trail of breadcrumbs. Well - “If they didn’t want to be eaten, they shouldn’t be so delicious.”
“Most of the Crypts are dark as midnight, a horror of endless cold corridors cut in the stone where every step could see you into a trap, a drop, some peculiarity of physics, a reversal of gravity, a sudden drop in pressure or a toxic aerome.
Or the maw of a monster.”
The story is set in an alien labyrinth in an incomprehensible wormhole artifact in the trans-Plutonian outer reaches of the Solar System. Gary Rendell is one of the astronauts on the exploratory mission which goes as wrong as you can only imagine. When we meet him, he is alone wandering the nightmarish never ending corridors of the artifact - The Crypts, a place beyond surreal, where “the Crypt-builders made physics their bitch.”
“The Crypts are an artificial phenomenon which let matter, energy and information thumb their collective nose at relativity, and do it unchanged, without all that infinite-mass nonsense that approaching light speed entails.”
You can’t help but feel pretty strong Mark Watney (of The Martian fame) vibes at the beginning. A lone astronaut in a strange hostile place, armed with a sarcastic attitude and human ingenuity. But then, but then... we’ll, let’s just say that the resemblance ends quickly.
“I just didn’t think there would be so much getting lost and eating corpses.”
This is NOT a narrative of a plucky survival on a space mis-adventure.

This is a narrative of a slow but unstoppable sliding into insanity. A gradual buildup of psychological horror until the abrupt and effectively intense ending.

Somewhere by the middle of the novella I had a definite although initially subtle feeling of something being unmistakably *off*. It was nagging my brain just like that ‘scritch-scritch” noise was eating into Rendell’s thoughts, I guess. It just careened off from there and finally solidified with that ‘goblin’ scene that while disturbing at least gave some long-desired clarity.

They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Or good wishes, I suppose - so be careful what you wish for. Too bad it’s only clear in the hindsight.

Oh shit. Last page. Not the Minotaur as I was suspecting by then. No.
“And that, Toto, is how I got to be the man I am today: hard work and determination and an alien machine that flayed me alive so I could be the best that I could be.”
My mind is still reeling a bit after reading this story twice in one night.

5 stars.


2021: Buddy reread with Carol and jade.

On the reread (a proper one, not the feverish immediate re-inhaling of this wonderfully messed-up story) it’s even better, holds up fully, and all the detail, all the clues, all the delicious tidbits are clear and enjoyable and rewarding.

5 stars without a second thought.

“If they didn’t want to be eaten, they shouldn’t be so delicious.”


2022: How did I not know that the audio book is narrated by no other than Adrian Tchaikovsky himself? And he’s very good at it. The more I read it, the more I love it.

Also posted on my blog.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
September 7, 2019
You know how some books get less impressive as you get some distance from finishing them and think about them some more? You realize the plot had serious holes, or the characters were flat, or whatever. But a few books take a while to seep into your brain, and gradually get more impressive. Walking to Aldebaran is one of those, and I'm bumping it to all 5 well-deserved stars. Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:

I never know what to expect from Adrian Tchaikovsky, but he’s always entertaining. Walking to Aldebaran is unlike anything I’ve read from Tchaikovsky to date, a powerful, literary SF novella with an edgy, dark sense of humor and a strain of horror that gradually intensifies until its shocking ending.

British astronaut Gary Rendell is part of an international space team sent from Earth to explore a moon-sized, alien-made object ― officially called the Artefact, unofficially called the Frog God because of its appearance in photos ― that a space probe has found lurking in the outer reaches of our solar system. Through a series of events that are gradually unfolded to the reader, Rendell is now wandering alone inside the cold, endless, crypt-like tunnels inside of the rocky Artefact, where highly peculiar physics hold sway.
The Crypts are an artificial phenomenon which let matter, energy and information thumb their collective nose at relativity, and do it unchanged, without all that infinite-mass nonsense that approaching light speed entails.
Rendell is separated from his crewmates and desperately trying to find his way back to his ship or even just our solar system (the few exits that he has found seem to lead to other planets).

The chapters of Walking to Aldebaran alternate between the backstory of how Rendell got to be where he is now, and his exploration of the Artefact in current time, coming into contact with the Artefact’s other inhabitants and commenting on his experiences to the reader. The inside of the Artefact is a nightmarish place, dark and dangerous, with countless alien creatures, most of whom want to eat you. About one particularly horrific monster, Rendell observes:
It looks as though it got into God’s desk after school and nicked off with every single nasty toy confiscated from the fallen angels. It writhes towards me along the ceiling, various spiked parts of it clicking and clattering against the stone. It’s in no hurry. It’s probably waited a thousand years for some dumbass Earthman to come along and wake it up.

… Human ingenuity is drawing a blank. Captain Kirk would have thought of something by now, I’m sure, but I have no red-shirted confederates to feed to it.
Meanwhile, there’s also a mysterious scraping, scritching noise constantly echoing inside of Rendell’s skull, something that feels almost understandable to him, driving him to distraction. He develops an obsession with hunting down the source of the mental scratching and stomping it out.

My first reaction on finishing Walking to Aldebaran was, “Well played, Tchaikovsky!” This novella both surprised me and exceeded my expectations. Rendell’s situation and narrative voice at the beginning are similar to Mark Watney’s from The Martian: he’s lost and alone, and has a sarcastic sense of humor, though Gary Rendell’s narration is darker and more erudite. In fact, it’s reminiscent of John Gardner’s Grendel: Gary frequently uses literary allusions, ranging from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to T.S. Eliot, and tosses out vocabulary-challenging words like pareidolia, quotidian, oubliettes, and anagnorisis.

The story gradually evolves into something far more strange and horrifying than The Martian. There’s one final literary reference that was the icing on the cake, but it’s a major spoiler

I’m not normally much of a fan of the horror genre, either in SF or fantasy, but I highly recommend Walking to Aldebaran for readers who enjoy science fiction that has unusual literary depth.

Content notes: a nightmarish setting, some gruesome violence and a handful of F-bombs. Not for sensitive readers.
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
849 reviews5,828 followers
April 16, 2023
We all live in the corpses of each other’s expeditions here.

I came for awesome sci-fi and I received it in fistfulls. And not just fists of sci fi theory fury but also a healthy dose of ‘two-fisted space action! Pow! Bam! Crunch!’ Adrian Tchaikovsky is an absolute charmer and magician in Walking to Aldebaran, drawing you in like prey with a fascinating space anomaly scenario full of global political tension, terrifying space labyrinths and survival-horror fun and then springs for the kill with a sinister twist ending that will leave you too stunned to even bother picking your jaw up off the floor. This is space fun at it’s finest, and tightly packed into a novella that—like the space and time bending anomaly being investigated—seems to contain far vaster universes of ideas than seems possible to pack into it’s size. As someone who grew up playing Myst, I have a huge soft spot for the quiet-yet-tense labyrinth narrative, and while this doesn't feel wholly original with elements that recall movies like Cube or even the recent novel Piranesi, Tchaikovsky manages to make it feel fresh and exciting as you can be so consumed by the story as to be frantically reading to the end.

Always there is the cold and the dark, but now I have a purpose. Someone’s trying to ruin my day and I am going to return the favor…

I’m so glad I finally listened to Nataliya because I am an instant Tchaikovsky convert after this. It is so fun, but also so smart and well crafted. There is a twist, and it’s probably best to know as little about this book as possible going in (I didn’t even read a synopsis which I would also recommend if possible) so I promise not to say much about the story here other than Tchaikovsky pulls an amazing sleight-of-hand here. There are some big clues along the way but when it hits it feels like the floor dropping out from under you as you realize, wow this funny and cool book is also super dark! Throw in some witty Beowulf references, some violent man vs alien in hand to hand combat scenes, tons of awesome yet only hinted at space theories and BAM, you have this stunner of a novella.

Did I mention this book is funny? His writing is so charismatic and self-aware, he just really seems to know his audience and plays to all his strengths so well. It also is very well situated in complex and hot global issues and does so with such subtle dark humor. We learn of the US going through a huge civil war, there’s plenty of international political squabbles that threaten even the possibility of a space mission to the most groundbreaking discovery of all time (and may just be ‘a testament to the indefatigability of human dumbassery’), and even nationalist bloodshed get addressed as a realistic backdrop to quickly explain the social landscapes of the novel’s present. Tchaikovsky makes some good jokes—Boaty McBoatface gets a clever shoutout—but also has a good pulse on the modern world. One astronaut, for example, spends the long travel time ‘teaching us considerate use of pronouns’. In such a short space he is able to create a lived-in reality full of nuance. This complex yet familiar world contrasts beautifully with the desolate and portentously eerie Crypts the narrator must wander alone across the galaxy.

I feel like, in coming out here, we’re bleeding our culture, the humanness of us, out into the void. How can what we are survive contact with the Crypts.

The question of what is humanity is a vaster context of the cosmos is at the heart of this story. The discovery of the ‘artefact’ in space they nickname Frog God is likely to make humanity confront difficult thoughts because ‘either it reinforces your insignificance or it makes you the centre of the universe.’ The former is extremely well explored in Roadside Picnic, whereas Tchaikovsky spends the novella leaving us stuck between the two but entertaining solipsism despite evidence of the former. It reminds us how much kinship we ought to have with humanity and how despite all our wars and disagreements, we would feel a great loneliness if all our kind was lost from us. ‘Just let them be like me,’ he thinks when about to encounter another visitor in the Crypts, ‘I’ll even let them shoot me a bit, just as long as they’ve got fingers to pull the trigger.’ Even in the awesome presence of galactic possibility, the narrator desires to return to his own people. But can we truly return once the mysteries of the cosmos unlock before us? ‘What I am--was--has not survived contact with the Crypts either.

As well as wondering where humanity is in the scale of things, there is also the conflict between who is hunter and who is hunted. Aldebaran is the brightest star in the constellation Taurus, and there is much talk about the Crypts as a passageway across the universe. Then again the name comes from an Arabic word meaning 'follower', but more in the context of a predator following their prey. Are they walking into a trap, is narrator following prey or is he the prey, and if we enter a larger cosmic circle of planets that sustain life, where will humanity wind up on the food chain? The Crypts make for an elaborate hunting ground, however, as they are an artificial phenomenon which let matter, energy and information thumb their collective nose and relativity.’ Each room can be a death trap, its high tension all the way through.

This story goes places. In many senses of meaning. But, wow, when it hits, it really hits. ‘I have battled monsters,’ the narrator tells us, ‘although, to Neitzche’s smug satisfaction, I may also have become one.’ The ways terror, pain (and traumas not of this earth) can change a person might not make a return to normal life an easy task. One could certainly read this story as a bleak examination of PTSD if they wanted to look for it, though the sci fi survival-horror narrative is just so compelling and well executed that the twist seems more in good fun and shock value. It’s a mindblower, I loved it. This has been my first Tchaikovsky but certainly won’t be my last and if you need a quick pick-me-up of twisted good times reading about terrifying bad times in space, pick this up for sure.

Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,964 followers
April 28, 2019
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. :)
Profile Image for Ɗẳɳ  2.☊.
159 reviews292 followers
August 14, 2019
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 went on 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. I thought that 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. I especially savored 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.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
2,171 reviews616 followers
May 31, 2019
This is dark and quirky scifi noir as astronaut Garry Rendell finds himself lost in an alien labyrinth. Part of a combined nations space mission to explore an artifact discovered in the Oort cloud beyond Pluto, Rendell, separated from the rest of the exploration team, recounts his wanderings through the never-ending tunnels, and his encounters with fellow wanderers. Although he has maintained his sense of humour, the experience has clearly transformed him.

Original and imaginative with a twist of horror. Recommended for those who like their SF served with a bit of black comedy!

With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher Rebellion for a digital ARC to read
Profile Image for Faith.
1,843 reviews516 followers
November 30, 2020
“It had a dozen many-jointed legs, and I snapped them off and piled them up, a campfire just like my old scoutmaster taught me, and I used one of my shonky little jury-rigged pieces of nonsense to spark it into flames.” That is astronaut Gary Rendell in survival mode. He is part of the international crew of the Quixote. A probe was sent to look for other planets, but it found the Crypts instead. Rendell is now lost in the Crypts (a/k/a the Frog God a/k/a the artifact) after becoming separated from the rest of his crew mates. The Crypts are a gateway to other universes, but that means that any sentient life forms in those universes can also visit the Crypts and Rendell encounters several of them, including egg people, pyramid people and the intestine monster. Rendell also learns the lesson of being careful what you wish for.

This novella reminded me of a Twilight Zone episode, with a combination of humor, adventure, horror and surprises. I enjoyed the author’s writing style. It demonstrates intelligence, imagination and wit. This is the first book by him that I’ve read and it made me want to read more.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Profile Image for jade.
489 reviews288 followers
February 2, 2021
“they are roads through the great dark without, just as there are roads through the lesser dark within. they let us walk to all the other stars.”

meet gary rendell.

gary is a british astronaut. he’s very polite, and not picky about what he eats. he likes talking to people who aren’t there so he won’t lose his mind, and gets entertainingly snarky about that. gotta stay positive, right? and sometimes, he gets annoyed by things that trip him up.

he’s also thoroughly, utterly fucked.

because gary rendell is stuck in an alien superstructure and he has no idea how to get out. also, he’s most certainly not alone, and there are no exit signs anywhere that say ‘earth’.

© Mike Winkelmann

this is one of those novellas that’s at its best when you know as little as possible about the actual story before you read it. i commend whoever drafted the blurb, because it’s kept simple and to the point -- and it has all you need to know about the premise.

this is existential cosmic horror at its finest.

it explores the fear of a universe beyond our comprehension; deep and dark and lonely and cold. a universe in which we are tiny and insignificant; a mere scattering of ants coalesced on a watery space rock in the middle of nowhere. it’s a book that keeps asking you -- what would it do to you, being faced with the incomprehensible vastness of space every day without a way out?

how do you survive that, and how does it change you?

the best part about this story is that it’s actually fun to read.

because life might give you lemons, but my man gary is out there trying to make lemonade out of every creepy corridor, dead alien, and inexplicable event he comes across. and he does so with a tireless sort of cheerfulness; the tone of his narrative is almost deadpan and satirical.

while he stumbles through the labyrinthian network of crypts he finds himself trapped in, he also recounts the story of how he came to be there. so we get to know all about his old astronaut colleagues, their training on earth, and the beginnings of a space expedition that would eventually lead gary to where he is right now.

“we weren’t stupid about things, is what i’m saying. we weren’t like those dumbass astronauts you see in films, who take their helmets off or bend obligingly low to investigate the killer monster alien eggs.”
so there’s an element of mystery to it as well that is slowly revealed: because how did gary get separated from the others, and why did their mission fail?

walking to aldebaran is one of those books that gets better the longer you think about it. there are layers to it that i could appreciate from a literary perspective: so many hints and clever little references scattered throughout the narrative that you might miss on a first read, but that are actually quite revealing regarding its ending and theme once you know what to look for.

and i also found it a highly entertaining read purely on a surface level thanks to gary’s self-deprecation and sense of humor. so it’s got the best of both worlds, really; it gives you a compelling sci-fi horror story to read while rewarding you for paying attention and trying to think a little deeper about what certain narrative connections or references could mean.

i very much admire tchaikovsky for being able to provide his reader with both; it’s skillfully executed, especially considering its length as a novella. not to mention that, in the often rather depressed field of existential horror, this is the first time i’ve met such a relentlessly positive guy as gary rendell.

a breath of fresh air in the toxic, everything-might-kill-you environment, i gotta tell ya.

© JHKris (SOMA fanart)

i was also incredibly impressed by the ending; it’s one of those mindfuck sort of books where, once you finish the last page, everything slots into place and your mind is instantly trying to connect all the dots.

personally, i was very lucky to read this book together with two lovely people who’d already read it once -- carol and Nataliya -- and that made me appreciate the cleverness of the story even more.

the story was also reminiscent of games such as SOMA to me: narratives that take a closer look at identity and what survival in such an inexplicable, threatening environment does to you, but that’s all i will say about that.

read walking to aldebaran for the existential dread. pick it up for the exploration of a psyche of an astronaut who wields dark humor as a weapon against unbearable loneliness. or read it for the, “holy shit, did he really just pull that off?” feeling of the last few pages.

masterful. i won’t forget this one anytime soon.

5.0 stars.
Profile Image for Dennis.
659 reviews269 followers
July 10, 2022
Fun little novella that pairs a first contact situation with some tasty (body)horror as the first person narrator makes his way through the dark tunnels of an alien artefact, found somewhere beyond Pluto. Turns out he is not alone.

There's not a lot of plot here. It's mainly about what happens to the protagonist's mind (and body?).

What made this so enjoyable for me is the sarcastic voice of the narrator. In that sense, and because of the initial setup, there's indeed some similarity to The Martian. But Gary Rendell most definitely is not Mark Watney.

Perfect narration by Tchaikovsky himself. Definitely recommend the audiobook of this one.

Soundtrack playing in my head: https://youtu.be/htgr3pvBr-I (Couldn't help it)
Profile Image for Beth.
910 reviews102 followers
December 12, 2020
This is a fun novella, a mishmash of "weird," SF, horror, and comedy. I tend to think of myself as squeamish, but am coming to wonder if that's really true, since I chuckled much more than I cringed during this story's rather gruesome second half.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,916 reviews3,402 followers
April 28, 2019

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.

Thanks go to Netgalley for providing this highly entertaining ARC.
Profile Image for Mimi.
694 reviews190 followers
January 16, 2022
Still reeling from the impact of the last page.

OK, so maybe I don't want to go to the Oort Cloud anymore.

* * * * *

Update: May 2020

After an impassioned defense of this novella in an impromptu Q & A session with a GR friend who didn't feel the same way, I should get back to completing this review. Soon.

For now, let it be known that I ❤ Gary Rendell.

* * * * *

More thoughts and spoilers to come.
Profile Image for Milda Page Runner.
299 reviews234 followers
July 17, 2019
Brilliant! As hilarious as it is terrifying.

Somehow it reminded me watching Happy! - you end up hysterically laughing in the most inappropriate gruesome moments.

Recommend to everyone who likes sci-fi, horror and dark humour.
Profile Image for Sarah.
636 reviews143 followers
April 15, 2019
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.

This review originally published at: Hamlets & Hyperspace
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,219 reviews2,051 followers
May 25, 2019
I had read a couple of this author's books already so I was expecting good things when I took up this one and I was not disappointed. Not by a long shot! It was exceptionally good.

I loved the main character, Gary Rendell from Stevenage, with his snarky, sarcastic comments, his self deprecation and his spoiler alerts. The concept of the tunnels leading to other universes was just brilliant and I enjoyed all the aliens including the Egg people and the Pyramid people. (Gary failed to attend the lecture on the naming of newly discovered aliens)

The sudden twist into horror towards the end of the story is masterful. Then I realised (hindsight is a wonderful thing) what Gary had been telling me from the beginning. So very clever.

A short book but a very, very smart one. Very well done Mr. Tchaikovsky.
Profile Image for Melindam.
631 reviews273 followers
July 13, 2020
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.

ARC by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,032 reviews1,423 followers
April 29, 2020
This is the third Tchaikovsky novella I have listened to, over the course of the day, and each has impressed me with both its original concept and the skilful execution of it. All three have been unique, inventive, and with a fully-fleshed story-line not often found in every story I have read, of a similar truncated length as these novellas.

Despite appreciating all three, I think I immediately bonded with this story quicker as it had its roots in the recognisable sci-fi landscape of space. I have read scores of fantasy but remarkably less sci-fi, and those I do gravitate towards tend to be set amongst the stars. It goes without saying that I loved the setting here, and the unique Tchaikovsky spin that this astronaut story takes.
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,082 reviews2,942 followers
May 6, 2023
2.5 Stars
This was a lighter tone than I would have liked for a premise that promises isolation space horror. I just did not like the execution. I was frustrated that the narrative choices skipped over some of the most interesting parts of the ending. This was alright but could have been so much better.
Profile Image for Twila.
128 reviews115 followers
March 8, 2020
I never really know what to expect with this author anymore. His books all seem to be absolutely wild and crazy inventive works of imagination. All I know is that they’ll always be interesting. At the least.

Walking to Aldebaran is the story of an astronaut who's been stranded in an alien cavern somewhere near Neptune. I’ve seen it described as The Martian meets Annihilation and I can totally see that, although I did find it a bit more surprising and astonishing than just that. From its synopsis, I came in immediately expecting a survival horror story and was massively confused when I found the MC, Gary, to be a bright-eyed and carefree guy whose humourous narration reminded me a ton of Mark Watney. The tone and style also reminded me maybe a little of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

However, it quickly evolved into something more edgy and horrifying that kept escalating and building up to what I thought was a perfectly shocking conclusion. The more and more I progressed, the more I went on a grand tour of Gary’s psyche and I really can’t say much because I don’t want to give anything away, but I’d say that the amount people enjoy this novella might be directly correlated with how much they enjoy dark humour. It ended up working for me and to be honest, I was reading the entire second half with my eyes squinted in total shock and appreciation.

Whilst short, it’s memorable and surprising and a great read.

4 stars
Profile Image for JasonA.
292 reviews52 followers
September 15, 2021
In a war-plagued future, a probe from Earth discovers an alien made object on the far side of Neptune. The probe malfunctions, but not before sending back its final images that reveal that the object houses an entrance to a wormhole. The nations of Earth stop fighting long enough to put together an international team of astronauts to investigate. Things quickly go wrong for the first exploration team and astronaut, Gary Rendell finds himself lost and alone in the dark labyrinth. He comes in contact with alien species, explorers like himself, and nightmarish monsters, looking for their next meal. In a place where the laws of physics cease to function and death waits at every intersection, the only way to survive is to evolve . Gary Rendell plans to survive.

This was a fun read. Part science fiction and part horror, the story really sucks you in. If you've read and liked other Adrian Tchaikovsky books, then you'll probably like this one. If you haven't read the author before, then this would be a great starting point. He can get a bit wordy at times (I used the dictionary function more than once), but he can write an engaging story with some dry humor sprinkled in. Definitely worth the read.
Profile Image for Jemppu.
500 reviews91 followers
October 2, 2022
What a densely packed mental thrill ride, narrated by the casual witticism and keen observational skills of an every-guy astronaut, Gary Rendell.

Cleverly composed and perfectly paced mix of fantastical planetary exploration, psychological horror, alien creature studies, and survival. All colored splendid by the driving force of the story: our narrator's ceaseless snarky optimism and casually sophisticated repartee, which at no point let the momentum drop.

This instantly reminded me of a certain other book I read recently, which utterly failed to live up to its blurb text, but which I find most befitting here: "An atmospheric thriller with the intensive drive of The Martian". Rendell's self-aware, fourth-wall breaking, popculture, psychology and societal affairs referencing specialist banter and will-do attitude can go against Mark Watney's any day.

For its compactly packed brilliance and sheer character throughout, this must be the most pleasing whole I've read from Tchaikovsky so far. Beautiful AF.

(Reading updates).
Profile Image for Dave.
3,010 reviews331 followers
March 25, 2019
One of the bright new lights in today’s science fiction offers us a harrowing glimpse of space exploration and madness. With echoes of Space Odyssey, an artifact appears out by Pluto. It’s large. It’s ancient. It has openings that beckon for exploration. And,it is riddled with passages, chambers, and all manner of space aliens from other planets and other dimensions. No one ever imagined this was how the first contact with intelligent life would play out. And, one man, Gary Randell, has survived the expedition-but is condemned to wander the foreboding halls and ponder what he has become. His narration often drips with sarcasm as he addresses “Toto” and explains his actions.

It’s a fascinating exposition, but it is merely novella-length and never achieves grandiose proportions. In short, you wish there was more to the story and to where it would lead. Nevertheless, an enjoyable read and hard to put down.

Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
Profile Image for Allison Hurd.
Author 3 books696 followers
July 24, 2020
A really fun, clever twist on old tropes. I liked the exploration, and I thought the shift from exploration to horror was a different direction than I saw coming. My only teeny tiny nitpick is that the reveal felt a bit hidden away for me. I had to listen several times to the first goblin scene to make sure I was hearing what I was hearing.

4.5 stars rounded up because the audio narration by the author himself was also very well done.

Profile Image for Michael.
1,094 reviews1,508 followers
December 27, 2019
An alien artifact is discovered within reasonable space travel distance from Earth. Our first person narrator Gary is the only survivor of an investigating crew whose mission has identifies the apparent planetoid is some kind of space wormhole gateway accessible by many other alien civilizations. He and diverse alien species, so imaginatively rendered by the author, must leave their spaceships behind to explore labyrinthine pathways (often in the dark) in the hope of gaining access to new worlds. In the many weeks it takes, deadly competition for food and resources emerges among the many wandering species. Gary reminds me of Mark Watney in his sardonic monologue on strategies for survival, the difference being that Gary undergoes a bit of metamorphosis in this dog-eat-dog environment, bring the reader over the line a bit into psychological horror. Compared to my 4-star rating of Tchaikovsky’s Ironclads (a window on cybernetics in future warfare), my pleasure meter renders a bit lower, so 3.5 rounded down. This guy is very prolific, and my experience with these two leads me to expect to find some fine reads (recommendations welcome).

This book was provided for review by the publisher through the Netgalley program.
Profile Image for Justine.
1,132 reviews309 followers
August 7, 2019
I'm a huge fan of Adrian Tchaikovsky, and I usually love his amazing creativity and literate writing style, but this one was just not for me.

The story here was not particularly original or even a fresh take on a familiar one. I also didn't much care for the blackly humorous tone adopted by the protagonist. The whole combination was just a miss for me.

I didn't DNF it early on as it was a novella and I wanted to finish it before making my final call. The last 20% was the best part for me, so I'm glad I finished it, but it wasn't enough to carry the rest of the story. I wouldn't have missed anything by skipping this one altogether.

My advice is to skip this and read the much more accomplished Cage of Souls instead. Hopefully it will be published in North America soon, but in the meantime you can order it from The Book Depository no matter where you live.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,028 reviews2,605 followers
November 12, 2019
4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2019/11/10/...

I confess, I haven’t always had much luck with novellas, even when it comes to those by favorite authors, but I ended up really enjoying this one. For me, it was simply the right mix of humor and horror. Take the witty, smart-alecky narrative style of The Martian and combine it creepy, dread-inducing atmosphere of Alien, and you’d probably end up with something like Walking to Aldebaran. One wouldn’t think that would work so well, but it did.

The book takes us inside the head of our protagonist, astronaut Gary Rendell. And us, we are Toto. Don’t ask. All you have to know is that our man Gary has been on his own for a long time, long enough for him to start going a little stir-crazy, hoping to find another living soul to call friend. They wouldn’t even need to human. At this point, Gary is beyond caring about such trivialities, for you see, he’s trapped on a giant alien artefact that was found drifting at the edge of our solar system, following a disaster that killed the rest of his crewmates. Now he’s lost, frightened and alone, wandering aimlessly through the cold dark tunnels of the megalith.

Gary had thought he was lucky when he was chosen to be part of the exploration team, after a space probe sent back images from the Oort Cloud showing a strange alien rock which was nicknamed “The Frog God” because of its uncanny resemblance to the amphibious animal. But now that he’s in this mess, he can’t help but look back on the past and examine the chain of events which has led him here. And maybe it’s the shadows playing tricks with his eyes, or the fact he’s losing his mind from being so lonely and terrified, but over the course of all this walking, he’s seen and experienced some pretty weird shit. Not to mention, perhaps he’s not so alone in these Crypts after all, though whatever horrible thing is out there, he’s not so sure he wants to meet it.

Hands down, my favorite thing about Walking to Aldebaran was the voice of protagonist. There’s no question that Gary Rendell’s humorous accounting of his journey added much enjoyment to the book, but there’s also another side to it. You know the saying “you gotta laugh or you’ll cry” or ever hear of people cracking jokes as a fear response? There’s definitely an underlying element of this at play in the narrative, and rather than breaking me out of the immersion, the humor actually worked to further emphasize the sheer horror of the situation in which Gary has found himself.

I also liked how the overall story unfolded. For such a short book, there’s quite a lot to unpack. From Gary’s experience in the Crypts to the events that led up to the discovery of the Frog God and how the exploration team came to be on the alien artefact, everything is covered here in a way that balances pacing and the amount of detail being doled out. Adrian Tchaikovsky takes care not to overwhelm the reader with information, nor does he want to push us too far over the edge when it comes to the terror and intensity of the atmosphere. Each time before the plot can veer too far in one direction, he reels things back to build interest in another area, so that we get to cover a lot of ground while moving at a fast clip. Flashback scenes and memories were also done well in a way that doesn’t draw too much attention away from what’s happening in the here and now.

Also, the ending—which I will not go into, because no spoilers here—was one hell of a dark twist, and I never thought I’d be saying this but it might have single-handedly solidified Walking to Aldebaran as one of my favorites by the author, right behind Children of Time. Granted, so far I’ve only read a relatively small sample of his massive bibliography, but this one felt pretty special to me, which is all the more impressive considering how picky I am when it comes to novellas.

Bottom line, I found Walking to Aldebaran to equal parts hilarious and terrifying, and ultimately very rewarding. Of course, I can see it not being to everyone’s tastes, given the narrative tone of the protagonist, but if you don’t mind a bit of lightness with your horror and an interesting approach to the unreliable narrator, I would give this a try. I also don’t recommend novellas too often, but once in a while an exception will come along, and this one I believe would be an excellent introduction to Adrian Tchaikovsky because it’s a wonderful showcase of his talents as a storyteller, if you’ve ever been curious about his work.

Audiobook Comments: It seems I’ve been having all kinds of luck with author-narrated audiobooks lately, because this was Adrian Tchaikovsky gave a superb performance on this one. I also think it worked especially well given the character of Gary Rendell. Tchaikovsky, being his creator, knew exactly how to deliver his protagonist’s narration, right down to the little details like tone and cadence, making this one an awesome listen all around.
Profile Image for Silvana.
1,149 reviews1,120 followers
October 18, 2019
Adrian Tchaikovsky is a chameleon when it comes to writing. I read three books of his already: Children of Time, Guns of the Dawn and now this one. All of which have completely different tone.I guess that's a laudable trait for a writer.

This was recommended to me by Sarah after our disastrous BR on The Luminous Dead. The premise was kind of similar, a solo journey into the unknown. I enjoyed the comedic tone of the main character, a less-sciency British Mark Watney, when he described his experiences which convinced me that I will never be a trailblazer who's willing to take the risk jumping into the unknown, alien territory in which the locales are not thoroughly mapped, researched, and came with instruction for contacts and possible ramifications and exit strategy.

But I digress. The novella might serve better as a novelette, since I was kind of bored near the middle (maybe the author's ploy to lull me into a cozy space?), though it does pick up its pace near the last third. It has a good finale. Is it a happy one? I guess you'll have to find out by yourself.

Thanks for the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read it. Will definitely read more SF from the author.
Profile Image for Shirin T. .
402 reviews40 followers
March 29, 2023
What could I say?!

What, really, could I tell you? What moral lesson has all this suffering taught me? Don’t go into the Crypts? The universe is full of aliens just as dumb as you? Astronaut is delicious once you get the wrapper off?
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