Book Reviews

Walking to Aldebaran by Adrian Tchaikovsky


Released: May 2019
Publisher: Solaris
Pages: 140
Rating: 4/5

A standalone science fiction novella written by the award winning author Adrian Tchaikovsky.


Astronaut Gary Rendell has hit the jackpot: he’s one of the select few chosen to explore the most incredible discovery in human history. Near Pluto’s orbit, a massive object has suddenly appeared and it’s clearly been created by an intelligent life form. Probes are sent out to investigate but they send back bizarre results so its decided that a manned expedition needs to be sent out.

Yeah… things do not go well.

Dubbed the Frog God by the crew members due to it resembling a frog’s head, the landing party ventures inside the object. Almost immediately their instruments begin to fail and no amount of tinkering will get them working again. Alone and without functioning equipment, they decide to salvage what they can and venture further in despite their misgivings.

“And we set off again, a testament to the indefatigablility of human dumbassery.”

Something goes horribly wrong as they get further into the Frog God and Gary is separated from the others. Lost in the vast, dark, and unending labyrinth, he wanders aimlessly with the slim hope he may be able to find his way back home. He has no idea if he’s been lost for days, weeks, months, or years. Every corridor of the physics defying Frog God seems more strange (and often more dangerous) than the last.

Along the way he becomes the defacto human ambassador to the various alien life forms he literally stumbles across. These meetings are about as baffling as the Frog God is- Gary can’t communicate with the aliens so it’s hit or miss whether these meetings go well or go violently.

What a jackpot indeed.


Guys, this book was hilarious. It was also quite harrowing and gruesome, but I was still chuckling aloud through most of it. Adrian Tchaikovsky is an author I have been meaning to read for awhile so this standalone novella seemed like a great introduction to his works. If Walking to Aldebaran is anything to go by, Tchaikovsky is not only a talented writer but he’s seriously funny too.

Even when horrendous things were happening, the author could find a way to thoroughly describe it all whilst still being amusing. Take this for example:

“I remember us turning to each other, clumsy in our suits like a pair of comedy puppets waving our arms and panicking at each other. We had not been trained for this, nobody had.”

Or this:

“And sometimes an outlet for your frustration comes along and sometimes that outlet is a gigantic worm monster, and you just go for it.”

Whilst reading, I was reminded of one of my favorite books of all time, Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke. Soon though, this turned into At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft with a dose of The Martian thrown in. Gary Rendell made me laugh almost as much as Mark Watney did.

Other comparisons can be made, but to do so would give away the twist at the end and it’s one killer of a twist.

Speaking of the end, I would have liked to find out what was going on with the rest of the crew back on the spaceship from their point of view. Or to know more about the mysteries of Froggy G that were left unexplained. However, this was a short book and what it did have was done well. Plus, much like Gary pointed out, to really think about everything he was doing and experiencing would probably break even the strongest of minds: “But that way madness lies.”

^ btw that quote is definitely going on my tombstone.


I’m so glad I was given a chance to read this. Despite being about a pretty bleak situation, the subject matter was approached in a light and easy to read way. Considering its length, it’s actually really impressive how fully fleshed out the book was. You could read it in a day but still feel like you read a full length novel. I suppose sometimes less really is more.

The world building and humor in this novella are what really set it apart. I also enjoyed the different elements of other works that seemed to influence the story, especially certain classics from centuries long gone. As much as I’d love to say which classics those are, I’m worried it might be a bit of a spoiler so you’ll just have to read Walking to Aldebaran to find out.

Have you read Walking to Aldebaran? Do you know which classics I mean? Let me know in the comments!

Side note: Aldebaran is a red giant star in the constellation Taurus. From the other reviews I’ve seen, I’m not the only nerd who kept reading it as Alderaan (as in the home planet of Princess Leia). Just to clarify- Gary Rendell did not cross over into the Star Wars universe. I think.


6 thoughts on “Walking to Aldebaran by Adrian Tchaikovsky”

  1. Great review! And if you haven’t read any other works by this author. You’re in for a treat. Children of Time is the best scifi novel I’ve read for a long time. It’s not humorous like this one, but is amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I keep meaning to read it! I wanted to get the sequel as an ARC but since I haven’t read Children of Time I thought it probably wouldn’t be fair to myself or the author.

      Liked by 1 person

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