A comparison of the star Aldebaran to the size of the Sun
Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri) is a type K5 giant star in the constellation Taurus that is frequently featured in works of science fiction. Aldebaran is a subject for ancient myths in multiple cultures (Inuit, Mexican, Native American) and, in more recent times, the mythologizing of science fiction.
References to Aldebaran not as an astronomical location in space or the center of a planetary system include:
"Return to Aldebaran", by martial-industrial artist "Legionarii" on the album "Age of Taurus"
The Cthulhu Mythos (1921- ), a fictional universe created by H. P. Lovecraftet al. Hastur is a fictional entity in the Mythos, ambiguously referred to as a place, an object, or a deity, and developed into a Great Old One by August Derleth. Robert W. Chambers uses Hastur to represent both a person and a place associated with the names of several stars, including Aldebaran: more particularly, Hastur inhabits the shores of Lake Hali on a planet circling a dark star near Aldebaran.
Lensman series (1934–48), novels by E. E. "Doc" Smith. The Lensman series takes place over a vast sweep of space and on many different worlds. These include the planets Aldebaran I, occupied by the Wheelmen, and the scene of Kimball Kinnison's first major injury requiring hospitalization (leading to his first meeting with Clarrissa MacDougall), and Aldebaran II, one of the first human-settled planets, and the scene of several of Kinnison's adventures. Smith's work is strongly identified with the beginnings of US pulp science fiction as a separate marketing genre and did much to define its essential territory, galactic space, featuring many planets such as those orbiting Aldebaran.
The Starmen (1952), a novel by Leigh Brackett. Llyrdis, the fourth planet of Aldebaran, is the home of the starfaring Vardda. The novel is a space opera in which the Vardda are the only race that is able to endure the rigors of interstellar travel. Boucher and McComas gave the novel a lukewarm review, describing it as "an able job of writing a completely routine and uncreative space opera." The book, a prime example of the midcentury shift in science fiction authors' attention away from planets in the Solar System to worlds in orbit around other stars, pales in comparison to Brackett's best single work of the same period, The Long Tomorrow.
The Stars My Destination (1956), classic science fiction novel (titled Tiger! Tiger! in the UK) written by Alfred Bester. After his apotheosis in the burning cathedral, the legendary Gully Foyle teleports stark naked to the vicinity of several stars, including Aldebaran: "Aldebaran in Taurus, a monstrous red star of a pair of stars whose sixteen planets wove high-velocity ellipses around their gyrating parents." The interstellar "jaunting" sequence is typical of Bester's signature pyrotechnics, his quick successions of hard, bright images, and mingled images of decay and new life.
"I'm a Stranger Here Myself" (1960), a short story by Mack Reynolds, published in Amazing Stories. When a couple of aliens walk into a bar, conversation ensues. "I felt your mind probe back a few minutes ago ... Telepathy is a sense not trained by the humanoids. If they had it, your job—and mine—would be considerably more difficult. Let's face it, in spite of these human bodies we're disguised in, neither of us is humanoid. Where are you really from, Rupert?"/ "Aldebaran," I said. "How about you?"/ "Deneb," he told me, shaking. We had a laugh and ordered another beer. "What're you doing here on Earth?" I asked him./ "Researching for one of our meat trusts. We're protein eaters. Humanoid flesh is considered quite a delicacy. How about you?"/ "Scouting the place for thrill tourists. My job is to go around to these backward cultures and help stir up inter-tribal, or international, conflicts—all according to how advanced they are."
The Lathe of Heaven (1971), a novel by Ursula K. Le Guin. Protagonist George Orr, in an alternate-reality Oregon, is an effective dreamer: his dreams have the power to alter reality. Under the guidance of Svengali-like sleep researcher William Haber, he dreams into existence a series of increasingly intolerable alternate worlds: dreaming for "world peace," he creates an alien invasion of Earth's lunar colony Moondome (uniting humanity against the threat). The attackers are "natives of a methane atmosphere planet of the star Aldebaran, [and] had to wear their outlandish turtle-like suits perpetually on Earth or the Moon, but they didn't seem to mind." In the 2008 Prentice paperback, the flying turtle-aliens and their Tauran homeworld are imagined in cover art by Timothy Goodman. Like all of Le Guin's work, Lathe of Heaven is shaped around a recurrent motif—in this case, the balance of the archetypal symbols of arrogance and submission.
The Forever War (1974), a novel written by Joe Haldeman. Protagonist William Mandella joins an elite task force assigned to counterattack the invading Taurans. The new soldiers depart for action, traveling via wormhole-like phenomena called "collapsars" that allow ships to cover thousands of light-years in a split second. In an expository section, Mandella explains the collapsar mechanism, as well as the derivation of the name adopted by humanity for the invaders: "This [initial unprovoked attack] happened near Aldebaran, in the constellation Taurus, but since 'Aldebaranian' is a little hard to handle, they named the enemy 'Taurans'."
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979), a novel by Douglas Adams. Aldebaran, which is noted for its fine wines and liqueurs, is a subject of the ditty: Aldebaran's "great, okay, / Algol's pretty neat, / Betelgeuse's pretty girls / Will knock you off your feet. / They'll do anything you like / Real fast and then real slow, ..."
Legend of the Galactic Heroes (1982-1987), Japanese novel series by Yoshiki Tanaka. In its backstory, the capital of the Galactic Federation, a polity that unified humanity after decades of chaos following a successful anti-Earth rebellion, is located on a planet in the Aldebaran system.
Narabedla Ltd. (1988), a novel by Frederik Pohl. On a planet orbiting Aldebaran, Narabedla Ltd. "Narabedla" being the retrogram of Aldebaran) is a corporation that is owned by aliens and run by their human agents. The protagonist, an accountant for various famous performers, discovers that many of his best clients are disappearing—after they sign mysterious contracts for prolonged, lucrative series of private engagements. It turns out that Narabedla is a corporate impresario for artists' tours that cater to alien venues on alien worlds.
Aldébaran (1994–1998), series of comic books by Luiz Eduardo de Oliveira (as by Léo). The series is set mostly on the Earthlike and human-inhabited world Aldebaran IV often referred to simply as Aldebaran.
Blue Mars (1996), a novel by Kim Stanley Robinson. Jackie Boone, the granddaughter of original Mars colonist John Boone, takes an interstellar vessel to "a star near Aldebaran, where a Mars-like planet rolled in an Earth-like orbit around a sun-like sun." Having terraformed most of the Solar System, humankind is now off to terraform the galaxy. Robinson writes that, at "several percent" of the speed of light, the trip to this star will take 20 years, implying that the 'star near Aldebaran' is closer than Aldebaran itself.
Fallen Dragon (2001), a novel by Peter F. Hamilton. Not the pushovers they were imagined to be, the villagers of Artoon resist the soldiers of the rapacious Zantiu-Braun corporation with the use of hyper-advanced technology provided them by a dragon-like alien being. Protagonist Lawrence Newton, disillusioned with the life of the interstellar mercenary, deserts his unit and joins the villagers in hijacking a company starship to search out the red-giant home system of the dragons, saying, "I don't need a deal. I'm going to help you anyway." / "What do you mean?" [Denise] asked slowly. / "You want to take the dragon fragment to Aldebaran, right? The closest red giant, where all the real dragons are." Where they are indeed. When Denise and Lawrence arrive at the red star they quickly find millions of the kilometer scale dragons dwelling in deep space around Aldebaran.
Johnny Mackintosh: Star Blaze (2010), novel by Keith Mansfield. In this second of the Johnny Mackintosh novels, Johnny's custom-built computer Kovac detects an extraterrestrial signal and he begins his adventures, leaving the Earth on a journey through time and space that takes him to a gas giant orbiting Aldebaran, where he falls through the deep atmosphere witnessing amazing creatures inspired by Carl Sagan's TV series Cosmos.
Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World- (2014-), Japanese light novel series written by Tappei Nagatsuki. The main character of the novel is named after another star, Subaru (Pleiades), and is summoned to a fantasy world from our world. Aldebaran is a minor character who was also summoned from our world to this fantasy world just 18 years before Subaru. He prefers to be referred to simply as Al. Subaru and Aldebaran are both stars in the constellation Taurus.
"Amok Time" (1967), episode of Star Trek: The Original Series written by Theodore Sturgeon. Suffering through his first infliction of pon farr, the Vulcan biological mating urge, Spock must return to Vulcan to marry his betrothed or he will perish—and certain complications at the ceremony pit him against Captain Kirk in a ritual "fight to the death." Spock's failure to disclose this potential disaster, and his general reticence about pon farr, lead Dr. McCoy to call him "as tight-lipped as an Aldebaran shellmouth," a reference with a clear enough meaning. (Non-canonical references[which?] describe the Aldebaran shellmouth as an indigenous molluskoid creature, commonly fished for and consumed as a food item.)
"Hide and Q" (1987), episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation written by C J Holland and Gene Roddenberry. The Aldebaran serpent is a reptilian lifeform native to the Aldebaran system. It has three semi-transparent cobra-like heads extending from a brilliantly glowing sphere hovering above the ground, surrounded by lights. Q, a powerful but untrustworthy entity from a race of omnipotent, godlike beings also known as The Q, briefly assumes the form of an Aldebaran serpent when he introduces himself on a visit to the USS Enterprise-D in 2364.
"Relics" (1992), episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation written by Ronald D. Moore. Montgomery "Scotty" Scott, a Star Trek: TOS character who has been rescued in this TNG episode after 75 years of suspended animation inside the transporter of a starship, the Jenolen, entrapped inside an immense Dyson Sphere, arrives in the Ten Forward lounge of the USS Enterprise-D and orders a drink of Scotch whisky. He is aghast when he tastes the drink, perceiving immediately that it is artificial, and not real Scotch. Data offers him a "real" alcoholic drink of Aldebaran whiskey from the personal supply of the mysterious bartender Guinan, which non-drinker Data cannot describe any better than by saying that "It is... it is... It is green." This was the same description that Scott himself had given to an exotic alien beverage, which he had obtained from the Ganymede colony, in the TOS episode "By Any Other Name". Having drunk most of the bottle's contents, Scotty then visits the holodeck, running a simulation of the bridge of his Enterprise, where he is soon joined by Captain Picard, who also takes a drink; finishing the entire glass before Scott can finish warning him about its potency, the captain identifies it as Aldebaran whiskey and says that it was he who had initially given it to Guinan.
"Anomaly" (2003), episode of Star Trek: Enterprise written by Mike Sussman. Trip Tucker, chief engineer on the Enterprise, leads the pursuit of Osaarian pirates who have stolen weapons, food, and precious supplies from the ship. During the episode Tucker reports to sickbay with an injury, where he is offered a treatment that uses Aldebaran mud leeches. The regimen requires the placement of the creatures on the chest and abdomen, and that the patient sleep supine to avoid angering them. But Tucker declines the treatment.
Other film and television
"The Plot to Kill a City" (1979), episodes 106 and 107 in the television series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century written by Alan Brennert and directed by Dick Lowry. After capturing Raphael Argus, a notorious assassin, Buck learns that the killer is to attend a conclave of terrorists on the planet Aldebaran II. Buck assumes his identity, visits the Aldebaran system, discovers a plot to destroy New Chicago, is himself discovered, and manages to get back to Earth to foil the conspiracy.
The Lathe of Heaven (1980), PBS television film based on the Ursula K. Le Guin novel The Lathe of Heaven (see Literature section above), film written by Diane English and Roger Swaybill and directed by David Loxton and Fred Barzyk. With Ed Emshwiller on board as its visual consultant, the movie made innovative use of existing reality (futuristic high-rises in Dallas, for instance) to produce a striking "future reality" on a budget of only $250,000. For a number of years it stood as the best science fiction television film ever made.