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Roadside Picnic (Rediscovered Classics) by…
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Roadside Picnic (Rediscovered Classics) (original 1972; edition 2012)

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

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1,468625,085 (3.99)101
Member:patrickgarson
Title:Roadside Picnic (Rediscovered Classics)
Authors:Arkady Strugatsky
Other authors:Boris Strugatsky, Ursula K. Le Guin (Foreword)
Info:Chicago Review Press (2012), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:ebook, Your library
Rating:***
Tags:scifi, russian, classics

Work details

Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky (1972)

  1. 101
    Solaris by Stanisław Lem (S_Meyerson)
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    Gateway by Frederik Pohl (Vonini)
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  4. 10
    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?
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    Lament for the Afterlife by Lisa L Hannett (ShelfMonkey)
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    Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room by Geoff Dyer (bertilak)
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    Railsea by China Miéville (bertilak)
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    Fortitude [short story] [podcast] by David Brin (bertilak)
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» See also 101 mentions

English (56)  French (4)  Russian (1)  German (1)  English (62)
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
"Zones" have been found around the world which are presumed to have been locations of alien visitations. At least, that's the closest anyone's been able to describe what is thought to have caused the sudden appearance of areas of phenomena for which there are no explanations: corpses rising from the dead, tiny areas of extreme gravity, deadly substances which come out of nowhere and kill or eat parts of humans or animals who get too close, and artifacts humanity is beginning to be able to use but unable to replicate. One scientist thinks the zones are the remains of alien "roadside picnics". The zones are cordoned off and access granted only to researchers, but there is a lively trade in illegally obtained items stolen by "stalkers", who risk their freedom and lives in the hope of eluding innumerable traps, first in the zone itself and then from the police awaiting the stalkers - when they manage to get out. Most have died. Those who survive have deformed children who sometimes don't look human.

The main character is a stalker named Red, a rough-and-tumble sort who's made numerous trips into the zone near his home. He's seen acquaintances disappear or die horribly, and he's spent lengthy spells in prison as the police try to break him of his stalker ways. Red's likable but also course, angry, and violent. He drinks a lot, usually to forget what's he's seen or is planning to do. He's under no illusion that what he does to provide for his family is absolutely insane.

This is the first Strugatsky Brothers novel I've read, and it was marvelous. There's a madcap hysteria about it I didn't think I'd enjoy, but it pulled me right in. There's just no way to predict whether Red or anyone else will survive each page, and the mystery of the zones is obviously unsolvable, so there's no security for either the characters or the reader about what will happen. For some reason, it really works.

Highly recommended. ( )
  auntmarge64 | Nov 29, 2016 |
This 1970s Russian SF novel is considered something of a classic of the field, and I can definitely see why. It's based on a fantastic idea, one that really gets under your skin: Thirteen years ago, aliens briefly visited Earth. Everywhere they landed, bizarre, destructive, inexplicable things happened. Then they took off again, giving no indication of why they'd come in the first place, but leaving the places they touched forever changed into something weird and dangerous, scattered with unfathomable alien technologies and equally unfathomable hazards. People go into these zones to scavenge for these technologies, but often they don't come out again. Or they come out changed. And creepy, impossible things continue to happen around them. What does all this mean? Nobody knows for sure, but one character speculates that perhaps the visitors' stop on Earth was no more than a roadside picnic, and these altered landscapes and abandoned miracles are nothing more than their discarded garbage and forgotten tools, and the careless tracks of their passing. Like I said, it's a fantastic concept.

The story itself, which focuses mainly on one of these scavengers (or "stalkers") isn't very substantially plotty or anything, but it pulled me along nicely, anyway. The setting is a little odd, because it's not quite anywhere in particular, under not quite any political system in particular (an artifact, perhaps, of the restrictions the authors were under while writing in Soviet Russia). But while I found that a little distracting, it mostly works OK in the end. The one really sour note is the book's treatment of women, which is abysmal, even for the 70s: every woman in the story is either a sex object, or is ordered about like a servant, or both, and none of them have the faintest shred of a personality. Still, as annoyed as I was by that, I'm still very glad to have finally filled this gap in my reading of the genre. ( )
1 vote bragan | Oct 15, 2016 |
A fabulous concept for a book. The stalker subplot is the highlight of the book, w immediate cash for items brought out of the zone. I thought the dialogue was a bit awkward, though that may just have been the translation in the pdf that I read.. Could have been 70's, could have been 1920's Russian sci fi. I would have liked more closure at the end also.
I am interested in watching the movie also, but you know how that goes... ( )
  delta351 | Oct 3, 2016 |
As remarkable as advertised. Read on the heels of my first (four) viewings of Tarkovsky's film adaptation, Stalker. Remarks about both over at my blog. ( )
1 vote KateSherrod | Aug 1, 2016 |
Interesting and enticing for the whole missing-information approach - but just didn't deliver the punch I was expecting. ( )
  jculkin | Feb 1, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
 

» Add other authors (32 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Arkady Strugatskyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Strugatsky, Borismain authorall editionsconfirmed
弾, 深見翻訳secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Barceló, MiquelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bormashenko, OlenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bouis, Antonina W.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Capo, LuisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Griese, FriedrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Le Guin, Ursula K.Forewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lem, StanislawAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Möckel, AljonnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rehnström, KjellTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schalekamp, Jean-A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Strugatsky, BorisAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sturgeon, TheodoreIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Uhlířová, MarieTranslatorsecondary 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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:13 -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)

» see all 2 descriptions

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