Walking to Aldebaran is a mesmerizing descent into absolute madness. What begins as an exciting trek to a mysterious object nestled at the end of our solar system morphs into untold horrors as a single astronaut descends further into the bowels of an endless cavern. The protagonist begins as a human we can empathize with and, by the end, he’s a pure monster that belongs in the darkened halls of this creature-made structure. I was floored by the brilliant writing on display. Tchaikovsky slowly sucks you in, revealing piece by piece in a masterful first-person account. The sanity begins to trickle away until it’s too late, revealing the book is no longer what you thought it was. I’m frankly amazed at what he was able to accomplish in such a short space.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the majesty of what our protagonist continues to discover. It’s a mix between the wonder of a science fiction novel and the horrors of a creature feature. Through it all, our protagonist seemingly keeps his calm, never devolving into absolute terror, save for a single moment early on. This strange place changes him completely, both literally and figuratively, turning these mind-blowing experiences into everyday drivel. He’s aware that he’s narrating his own story as he walks through the tunnels. It’s easy to imagine this crazed man narrating each step he takes, telling his backstory as he sits on the cold ground taking a break. That sense of self-awareness creates an unease the further you dive into this brilliant account.
Overall, Walking to Aldebaran is a masterful combination of science fiction, horror, and a bit of humor. The mood is constantly shifting, the scene ever-evolving, and, in the end, we’re left with more surprises than expected. This is truly a must-read.
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.
Walking to Aldebaran
By Adrian Tchaikovsky
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