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Roadside Picnic (Rediscovered Classics) Kindle Edition
|Length: 226 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
However, that was really the only thing that kept me reading. The characters are fairly flat, and they all sound the same. Perhaps some of that is due to the awkward dialogue, a result of the translation from the original Russian.
The plot, when there was a plot, felt too sparse. The story is divided into segments or vignettes divided by several years, with narration shifting from 1st to 3rd person (something I actually didn't realize until just now writing this review). There are few connections between these vignettes aside from the presence of the main character. It seems that the only purpose to this is to allow the main character's motivations to develop a little more... which is fine, but at the end of the book I was left feeling empty - there is no satisfying narrative to be found here, and few questions raised by the plot are answered.
All in all it's worth a read, if nothing else for the unsettling depiction of "The Zone." Just don't expect a huge narrative payoff, or major character development.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A pretty good novel, but can be a bit slow at times. A good example of science fiction, without too much sciencey nonsense as the focus.Published 17 days ago by Nathan Weeden
Only know this by playing the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series. Saw the movie. Read the book. Loved it all. Very thought provoking and atmospheric. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Edmond
After about 4 days of nearly constant reading (in my free time that is), I can say that this book was certainly worth its purchase. Read morePublished 23 days ago by Amazon Customer
An oft-overlooked classic of science fiction that is worthy of being not just on your bookshelf, but in your hands, being read.Published 1 month ago by Matt Moore
Not nearly as good as other reviewers have written about it to be, ending incredibly abruptly when I had expected oh at least another 30 pages of wrapup, and this is the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by cutterjohn
Russian authors write somewhat different one "sees" the story like through murky waters....nothing is clear cut.....but overall they put together a damn good yarn... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jesus Riesco
I enjoyed this translation of this classic. It's a character driver, rather dystopian future (near) that leaves one thinking. Read morePublished 2 months ago by K. R. Phillips