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Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky
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Roadside Picnic (original 1972; edition 2012)

by Arkady Strugatsky, Ursula K. Le Guin (Foreword), Boris Strugatsky

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1,142447,160 (4)73
Member:mark
Title:Roadside Picnic
Authors:Arkady Strugatsky
Other authors:Ursula K. Le Guin (Foreword), Boris Strugatsky
Info:Chicago Review Press (2012), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Read but unowned, Favorites, Read in 2012
Rating:*****
Tags:literature, translated, russia, library, umich, read, 2012, top12, extreme wonderfulness, 20th

Work details

Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky (1972)

  1. 70
    Solaris by Stanisław Lem (S_Meyerson)
  2. 10
    Gateway by Frederik Pohl (Vonini)
  3. 00
    Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room by Geoff Dyer (bertilak)
  4. 00
    The Ugly Swans by Arkady Strugatsky (leigonj)
    leigonj: By the same authors, both books feature strange happenings: in Roadside Picnic the curious effects left by a brief Alien visitation in 'the zone', and in Ugly Swans the perpetual rain and mutants in a small town, caused by who knows what?
  5. 00
    The Cinema of Andrei Tarkovsky (British Film Institute) by Mark Le Fanu (S_Meyerson)
  6. 01
    Complete Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper (Vonini)
  7. 01
    Railsea by China Miéville (bertilak)
  8. 02
    Fortitude [short story] [podcast] by David Brin (bertilak)
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» See also 73 mentions

English (39)  French (3)  Russian (1)  German (1)  All languages (44)
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
Roadside Picnic is a Soviet-era ideological tract about the evils of Capitalism. Interesting idea for the zone but science fiction in the service of ideology is par for the course of this sordid genre. ( )
  Stbalbach | Jun 30, 2014 |
A sf novel from the USSR era. An inspiration for the S.T.A.L.K.E.R movie and game. On a banned books list. Very much an enjoyable read. ( )
2 vote Me-chan | Jun 19, 2014 |
When I finished this story I was reminded of a comment that Rudy Rucker made back in the day about there were limits as to how weird one could make your aliens because our own world was probably about as weird as Humans can handle. Which is another way of saying that what "Roadside Picnic" really has going for it is existential dread, as our protagonist goes from young bravo seeking to make a fast buck from raiding alien artifacts to (over the course of a few years) a desperate man seeking answers to what has happened to his life, and knowing full well that he probably isn't equipped to understand those answers even if they're forthcoming. That the authors cut you no breaks on the ambiguity of the situation in the approved edition of the novel I consider a plus.

What also makes this book look prescient is, on one hand, how it presages the Chernobyl Disaster, and on the other, how it apparently helped to inspire a whole genre of fiction and gaming (survival-horror). ( )
  Shrike58 | May 28, 2014 |
What's most amazing about this book is how the authors write prose that is so thought-provoking but not at all heavy. I might rate it 4 stars for that alone, but add to that the solid, lean prose, interesting characters and the compelling mysteries of the zone, and it's definitely a 5 for me. ( )
2 vote qaphsiel | May 11, 2014 |
What's most amazing about this book is how the authors write prose that is so thought-provoking but not at all heavy. I might rate it 4 stars for that alone, but add to that the solid, lean prose, interesting characters and the compelling mysteries of the zone, and it's definitely a 5 for me. ( )
  qaphsiel | May 11, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
 

» Add other authors (83 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Arkady Strugatskyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Strugatsky, BorisAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Bormashenko, OlenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bouis, Antonina W.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lem, StanislawAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Möckel, AljonnaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
You have to make the good out of the bad because
that's all you have got to make it out of.
Robert Penn Warren
Dedication
First words
I suppose that your first serious discovery, Dr. Pilman, should be considered what is now called the Pilman Radiant?
INTERVIEWER:... I suppose that your first important discovery, Dr. Pillman, was the celebrated Pillman radiant? (tr. Bormashenko, 2012)
Quotations
We usually proceed from a trivial definition: intelligence is the attribute of man that separates his activity from that of the animals. It's a kind of attempt to distinguish the master from his dog, who seems to understand everything but can't speak. However, this trivial definition does lead to wittier ones. They are based on depressing observations of the aforementioned human activity. For example: intelligence is the ability of a living creature to perform pointless or unnatural acts.
It all had to change. Not one life and not two lives, not one fate and not two fates -- every little bit of this stinking world world had to change ...
On the one hand, we are forced to admit, on the other hand, we can't dispute.
I'm anxious about going into the Zone and cold sober to boot. I grab him by the shoulder belt and tell him exactly what he is and just how his mother conceived him.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0575070536, Paperback)

Red Schuhart is a stalker, one of those strange misfits who are compelled by some unknown force to venture illegally into the Zone and, in spite of the extreme danger, collect the mysterious artefacts that the alien visitors left scattered around. His life is dominated by the Zone and the thriving black market in the alien products. Even the nature of his daughter has been determined by the Zone. And it is for her that Red makes his last, tragic foray into the hazardous and hostile depths.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:28:57 -0400)

"Red Schuhart is a stalker, one of those young rebels who are compelled, in spite of the extreme danger, to venture illegally into the Zone to collect the mysterious artifacts that the alien visitors left scattered around. His life is dominated by the place and the thriving black market in the alien products. But when he and his friend Kirill go into the Zone together to pick up a "full empty," something goes wrong. And the news he gets from his girlfriend upon his return makes it inevitable that he'll keep going back to the Zone, again and again, until he finds the answer to all his problems."--… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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