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Roadside Picnic (Rediscovered Classics) [Kindle Edition]

Arkady Strugatsky , Boris Strugatsky , Ursula K. Le Guin , Olena Bormashenko
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Red Schuhart is a stalker, one of those young rebels who are compelled, in spite of 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.

 

First published in 1972, Roadside Picnic is still widely regarded as one of the greatest science fiction novels, despite the fact that it has been out of print in the United States for almost thirty years. This authoritative new translation corrects many errors and omissions and has been supplemented with a foreword by Ursula K. Le Guin and a new afterword by Boris Strugatsky explaining the strange history of the novel’s publication in Russia.



Editorial Reviews

Review

"[a] vivid new translation... it has survived triumphantly as a classic." —Publishers Weekly


"The story is carried out with a controlled fierceness that doesn't waver for a minute."  —Kirkus Reviews


"Brilliantly and beautifully written . . . a truly superb work of science fiction."  —Infinity Plus


"Lively, racy, and likable . . . complex in event, imaginative in detail, ethically and intellectually sophisticated." —Ursula K. Le Guin


"Amazing. . . . The Strugatskys' deft and supple handling of loyalty and greed, of friendship and love, of despair and frustration and loneliness [produces] a truly superb tale. . . . You won't forget it."  —Theodore Sturgeon


"No doubt: a powerful, classic work of science fiction. Certainly recommended."  —The Complete Review 


"If you're going to read just one Soviet-era Russian science fiction novel, it should be Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's dark, ambiguous Roadside Picnic." —io9

 


"The Strugatskys' worldview remains both uniquely cutting and replete with humanity . . . The characters' conflicted views of their troubled world make for a read that still feels fresh today. It's also a book that's bound to make you feel a little less sure of humanity's place in the universe."  —Discover 
 
 

About the Author

Arkady and Boris Strugatsky are the most famous and popular Russian writers of science fiction, and the authors of over 25 novels and novellas. Their books have been widely translated and have been made into a number of films. Arkady Strugatsky died in 1991. Boris Strugatsky died in November 2012. Ursula K. Le Guin is the author of A Wizard of Earthsea, The Left Hand of Darkness, and other science-fiction classics.


Product Details

  • File Size: 1053 KB
  • Print Length: 226 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1613743416
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (May 1, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0087GJ5WI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,641 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic work of Soviet sf April 28, 2012
Format:Paperback
Soviet science fiction tended to be dark and surreal and ironic, a response to the oppressive environment in which it was born. Roadside Picnic, written by the Strugastky brothers in 1971, is no exception.

When aliens visited Earth, stopping briefly for (some speculate) a roadside picnic, they left their detritus behind in an area now known as the Zone. Surrounded by a wall and guarded by police, the Zone is accessible only to scientists and other employees of the Institute, including the explorers for alien artifacts who have been dubbed stalkers. A stalker who enters the Zone looking for alien treasure -- either as an employee of the Institute or to smuggle out items at night -- is always at risk: pockets of accelerated gravity, hell slime, and death lamps pose a constant threat. Apart from causing mutations in stalkers and their children, contact with the Zone leads to other anomalies, including animated corpses and -- for those who move away -- a tendency to attract accidents and natural disasters.

Red Schuhart is a stalker until, having seen enough friends die, he quits. After fathering a furry daughter, Schuhart returns to his old ways, dodging the police outside the Zone and death inside. He knows that stalkers who continue to push their luck end up dead, but when a final prize is dangled before him -- the mythical Golden Sphere that is said to grant wishes -- Schuhart cannot resist one last journey into the Zone.

Why does Schuhart risk his life as a stalker? Because self-reliance is all that has ever saved him from oblivion. He has always wanted to be his own boss, free from the slavery he associates with reporting to an employer. He considers himself an animal, riffraff, but he has never sold his soul, and that is the source of his strength.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exellent! May 23, 2012
By W.A.R.
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this book originally in Russian when I was eleven years old. I'm almost forty now and have to say that neither time nor language have taken anything away from this wonderful book. In my opinion this book is a great introduction to Brothers Strugatsky and Soviet Science Fiction in general.
I have to give special recognition to Olena Bormashenko for the excellent translation, she truly did justices to Strugatsky's unique style, staying true to both form and substance.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique Approach to Extraterrestrial Visitation June 16, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this unique approach to Extraterrestrial visitation.

When this story begins, it has been years since "the visitation". These ETs were neither benevolent bringers of technology and enlightenment nor conquerors with malevolent intent. Earth was just a stop-over - like a roadside picnic - and they didn't notice the humans of earth any more than we would notice the small animals, birds or insects hiding in the bushes on the side of the road. The ETs left without making contact leaving their "litter" covering several square miles in 6 locations around the Earth which are now known as Visitation Zones. The Zones are controlled by the various governments and entry by anyone but authorized government technicians is prohibited because of the toxins and radiation and dangerous unexplained phenomena.

The story revolves around one Visitation Zone in Harmont, a town in a Fictitious Commonwealth country (which I assumed was somewhere on the American continent), and follows the main protagonist, Redrick "Red" Schuhart, over an eight-year period. By day, Red is an authorized laboratory assistant at the international institute which studies the Zone, and by night, he is a "stalker" who enters the Zone illegally to acquire Zone "artifacts" which he sells on the black market. This is another aspect of the story that I really liked - the main character is not a super intelligent scientist who understands everything or a high-testosterone space adventurer who intends to save humanity. Red is just a normal, lower-middle-class-type guy trying to eke out a living from the Zone without getting killed by the hazards in the Zone or his rival stalkers or incarcerated by the clueless law enforcement.

Very interesting characters and plot lines. Highly recommended for Sci-Fi fans.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book July 1, 2012
By Arvin
Format:Paperback
I had not heard about this before, and am now a bit more interested in Soviet SF(!?), and after seeing a small piece on it in Popular Mechanics, got it quickly. I like 'found alien artifact' stories and this one has not dissapointed. Overall it is more a critique on the concept of how we as people would react to such an event, but there are enough small SF details to make it interesting to me. I recommend it for SF readers interested in SF philosophy and alien contact stories.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cerebral Classic of Soviet Science Fiction March 7, 2013
Format:Paperback
Several alien spaceships have visited Earth at some point in the late twentieth century. Their landing sites seem to have been chosen at random, and during their visit they made almost no attempt at contact with humans. When they finally left, their landing sites were permanently altered and “polluted” with various artifacts and substances, and the sites themselves exhibit many strange and troubling behaviors. In the years and decades following the aliens’ departure a vast array of scholars, scientists, technology experts, military interests, and black market opportunists tried to make sense of the visit and leverage the landing sites for their own varying interests. However, exploring the sites was always a very risky activity, and those who dared to venture within their carefully guarded perimeters frequently exposed themselves to harmful and often lethal consequences. These landing site visits, however brief, had impact not only on the explorers, but also subsequently on almost everyone who the explorers came in touch with.

This short Sci Fi novel reduces the subgenre of the alien visit to its most basic elements: the landing sites themselves, mysterious left-over artifacts, and the fundamental and irrevocable change that this visit has brought upon the human civilization. Within this minimalistic setup it is still possible to extract a surprising amount of narrative richness and human and intellectual drama. The main protagonist, Redrick “Red” Schuhart, is a hard-nosed “stalker” – an opportunistic and illegal rummager of the visitation zones – who is trying to make the most of his ability to extract valuable artifacts and sell them on the black market. Red is an almost prototypical antihero who is nonetheless guided by some high-minded principles and moral standard.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars first contact without intent
Good scifi can make us think about our assumptions, this book does. UNDER THE DOME by Stephen king is another take on the same issues. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
This is great science fiction. It has inspired many other works in both books and video games. The best praise I can offer is that I am reading it a second time a few months after... Read more
Published 1 month ago by JOHN from Staten Island
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm not sure it's all that well written, but the ideas are so powerful...
What can I say? A classic. Aliens that are not just people in rubber suits or space nazis or whatever but really, truly, unknowingly, alien. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Symmetry Breaker
5.0 out of 5 stars a book worth reading
Just as full of meaning forty years later as it was the year it was published. Beautifully written, poignant, a wonderful meditation on the meaning of life and
Published 2 months ago by Dragoise
3.0 out of 5 stars Ehhh
Not too sure where I expecrted this one to head but this wasn't it. It's a classic for sure and I really do enjoy sci-fi but this one failed to please.
Published 2 months ago by John Y
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good
Good and interesting setting. Read that this book was the inspiration for the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. video game series and I believe it.
Published 3 months ago by Zombienifty
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book
I read this in one sitting, which is rare for me. The writing is well done, the characters are full of, well, character, and you are taken along their path with each step. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Geraldine Ahrens
5.0 out of 5 stars loved the afterword
Fantastic read, and the afterword too. No issues with format or translation. A sci fi story of the grail... enjoy!
Published 3 months ago by Reed
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read Sci Fi
A very solid, smooth translation - as far as I can tell. A wonderful account of ordinary people put into extra-ordinary circumstances and not necessarily becoming the overpowered... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Kayden
5.0 out of 5 stars Bleak and thought-provoking Soviet SF masterpiece
They came thirteen years ago and went forty-eight hours later, leaving shattered landscapes and strange debris in their wake. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Chris Bekofske
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