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Roadside Picnic (Rediscovered Classics) Paperback – May 1, 2012


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Product Details

  • Series: Rediscovered Classics
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (May 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781613743416
  • ISBN-13: 978-1613743416
  • ASIN: 1613743416
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (150 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.


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Customer Reviews

I highly recommend this book for science fiction fans the world over.
ANT
This work, and particularly this translation, do a wonderful job of capturing this classic contribution to the sci-fi canon.
Stephen Swanson
My overriding impression after reading this book was that I wanted more of it.
Amazonian

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 56 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 100 REVIEWER on 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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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful By W.A.R. on May 23, 2012
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Clarice Marchman-Jones on 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 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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