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Roadside Picnic (Rediscovered Classics) Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 215 customer reviews

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Length: 226 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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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 
 
 


“Go read Roadside Picnic. It’s a phenomenal book.” —SF Signal

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. 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: 1532 KB
  • Print Length: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (May 1, 2012)
  • Publication Date: May 1, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0087GJ5WI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,879 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What I enjoyed most about this book was the mystery about the deadly alien "artifacts" that are the main drivers of the plot. The descriptions of how they work, how they interact with and change the environment, and how the characters must deal with them make for some compelling reading. They evoke the "cosmic horror" found in an H.P. Lovecraft story - indeed, Lovecraft's "The Colour Out of Space" could fit right into the Roadside Picnic universe as a 19th-century prequel.

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.
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