Walking to Aldebaran
One member of an team assigned to explore an anomalous portal on the fringes of the solar system finds himself walking an endless labyrinth. He’s surviving, but changed in ways he didn’t anticipate or welcome.
I miss the days of ubiquitous bookstores – where you could walk the aisles and spot good books by author, publisher, and cover, and the only filter was the bookstore’s purchasing manager, who decided what to buy. (Some such stores do still exist, of course, largely deserted by patrons like me who want e-books, but that’s a different story.) The point is that, for those of us who distrust popularity and 5 star reviews, browsing is difficult these days. NetGalley, surprisingly, helps me fill the gap. That’s where I picked up Walking to Aldebaran.
I’d heard Adrian Tchaikovsky’s name, but had disregarded it as the latest fan favorite. That may be true, but I was pleased to find there’s a good reason behind it. The piece had a bit of a rough start – the idea (alien labyrinth) is a familiar one; the tone (slightly sardonic, with asides) didn’t really work for me – and a couple of chapters in, I found myself pessimistic about enjoying the book. By chapter three, however, that had already started to turn around.
The book is intelligently written – the character (as he himself notes) doesn’t do the stupid things we all hate – and the humor (once you get past the asides) is sardonic and nicely balanced. The book overall is carefully constructed, though Tchaikovsky could have found a better balance of hints, foreshadowing, etc. Still, at the end, he doesn’t take the easy way out, and while the resolution doesn’t feel quite complete, it’s intriguing and fair. Plus, he introduced me to a word (anagnorisis) that I really should have known, but didn’t.
Overall, after a somewhat rocky start, this was a pleasant surprise – not just for the book itself, but because Tchaikovsky is clearly an author I’ll need to investigate more.
26 May 2019 Science fiction | Adrian Tchaikovsky |