I am trying to find the name of a book I read years ago. All I can remember is that the government(?) is trying to open the last door into a alien spaceship(?) or an alien portal of some kind.

They have opened previous chambers by passing tests in science and reasoning but have been stumped by the last one involving artistic qualities. They recruit a professional guitarist to play his guitar inside the chamber.

The alien AI(?) mimics the guitar playing and they eventually have what would be called a jam session. As he is playing, the wall starts moving and is made up of robots(?).

The robots eventually move and reveal a tunnel. The robots had killed the people who came there before because they failed the test.

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. When was "years ago" that you read this? Do you remember the cover at all?
    – DavidW
    Commented Feb 4, 2021 at 2:48
  • 1
    Sounds like it was inspired by the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, though wrong instrument. Commented Feb 4, 2021 at 17:42

1 Answer 1


Almost certainly Allen Steele's Labyrinth of Night. The Goodreads summary:

In 2029, an American research team ventures to Mars to investigate an astounding find: a labyrinth older than humanity itself, whose maze of rooms conceals the deepest secrets of the red planet. In the final chamber, strange music plays, as chilling as it is beautiful. It will be the last thing the scientist who discovers it ever hears. As the music rises to a climax, the chamber door closes, leaving him to die in the pitch dark.

Where one explorer has failed, Ben Cassidy must not. An internationally famous guitarist, his music is the closest thing on Earth to Mars’s deadly hymn. The government sends him into space to solve a planetary mystery, but what Cassidy encounters is a team of researchers whose jealous competition is every bit as dangerous as the secrets of Mars.

  • 1
    Thank you! That’s the one. Commented Feb 4, 2021 at 2:55

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