SciFi Review: Walking to Aldebaran by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Walking to Aldebaran was an entirely odd reading experience, equal parts exciting and exasperating, but I suspect that is exactly what Adrian Tchaikovsky was going for. This is the story of a stranded astronaut, lost and alone in an alien landscape, who is certainly struggling . . . and who may even be going crazy.

The thing is, we feel for Gary. We share his horror, his frustration, his helplessness, and his sense of desperate awe. Normally I would be bothered by the lack of wonder and awe in a story of first contact, but Gary is well beyond that by the time we meet him. He's seen it all, done it all, and is done with it all. After wandering the multidimensional corridors of an alien artifact for so long, running into alien species with whom he has no way to communicate, wondering if any of his fellow astronauts are still alive, he's so very tired.

I thought this was perfectly structured and (almost) perfectly executed. The slow reveal of the backstory - who Gary is, how he got there, what happened to his team, how we learned about the aliens - is all the more effective because we have to wait for it and work or it. While Gary is often exasperating as a narrator and frustrating as a character, I don't know that we can reasonably expect much more of him by this point in his ordeal. It's a dark story, largely hopeless and depressing, but his self-deprecating humor keeps it going. That said, it is a very slow tale, and I spent a lot of time wondering whether it had a point, or whether we'd just end up stuck in some sort of narrative loop.

That brings me to the climax and its twist. I guess we should have seen it coming, and looking back it's clear that Tchaikovsky was always leading up to it, but I still thought it was a nice bit of Twilight Zone horror with which to end the long Walk[ing] to Aldebaran.


Hardcover, 140 pages
Expected publication: May 28th 2019 by Solaris

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ARC of this title from the publisher. This does not in any way affect the honesty or sincerity of my review.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the review! I'm going to add this to my list. I like this kind of stranded, unreliable narrator (seems like it has potential) stories.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment