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Roadside Picnic (SF Collector's Edition) Paperback – August 24, 2000

4.4 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Arkady Strugatsky (1925-1991) and Boris Strugatsky (b.1931) began to collaborate in the early 1950s after Arkady had studied English and Japanese and worked as a technical translator and editor and Boris was a computer mathematician at Pulkova astronomical observatory.
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Product Details

  • Series: Gollancz Collectors' Editions
  • Paperback: 145 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (August 24, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575070536
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575070530
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,646,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It was the first book of A.& B.Strugatsky I've read when I was 16. After that I have re-read it 5 or 6 times... Brilliant thing about the meaning of life, about the place of human being, about happiness and despair. We, Russians, use to call this style "social phantasy", not SF. You can understand this, if you understand in what country this book was written. Developing the theme of postcommunist society, authors have created their own world, and you can find a lot of analogies and heroes that are common for some other books of them. Yes, Picnic is one of the best, but don't stop - there are other exciting works...
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Format: Paperback
The Strugatsky brothers wrote fiction with a slant readers won't find in any western works in the genre. Roadside Picnic is one of the most imaginative. A brief visitation to our planet from some unknown place by unknown beings for reasons incomprehensible. Six locations on the face of the globe, positioned as though someone fired a pistol at it from space as it turned, are permanently changed, studied and fought over by humans. The storyline involves a 'stalker', a young man who was a child in one of the areas at the time of the visitation, who then spends the remainder of his life sneaking past guards and barriers risking his life in bizarre expeditions to remove and blackmarket artifacts. His trails into the hometown of his birth are marked by piles of clothing of other less-fortunate stalkers, guideposts of danger spots. The activities then lead him into prison sentences and an alienation from the bulk of humanity that only the Strugatsky brothers might visualize.
If you love good science fiction you'll love this book. If you don't love science fiction you'll still love it. You'll probably also form a desire to read their other contributions. If so, you are in for a difficult pursuit. These tomes are rapidly becoming obsure.
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Format: Paperback
***This comment may contain Spoilers***

"Picnic na obochine" aka "Roadside Picnic written by the most popular among the Soviet readers of many generations writers in the genre of Science Fiction, brothers Arkadiy and Boris Strugatsky is much more than science fiction. It can be viewed as dark satire and anti-utopia as well. What is important, it is a very well written book which I've read many times and will read again.

The alliens have briefly visited Earth (perhaps for an emegency stop or for a picnic as the title suggests) and left behind many strange and unusual items, some of them funny and useful, some - dangerous and even deadly. These items became so popular on a black market that many people were ready to pay a lot of money or to risque their lives for them. The most desirable and mysterious of all was "Golden Sphere" that could grant any wish but nobody ever was able to reach it. Among stalkers, the persons possessing knoweledge of the area and its dangers, there was Roderick (Red) Schuhart, the main character of the book, He was not a saint; he was a human being with a lot of weaknesses. Red possessed inhuman intuition and luck that had helped him to survive the multiple trips to the Zone. But the Zone caught up with him in the end, and he was paying the ultimate price watching how his only child who was born as a beautiful and joyful girl was turning into the strange and mute animal. That was why Red decided to make the last trip to the Zone and find the legendary Golden Sphere. Red knew he could not go alone because just when you thought that you reached the Sphere there was an ultimate trap that could only be fed by a human being.
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Format: Paperback
SF in English has two problems... 1) it's become branded and commercialised e.g. Star Trek pulp novels and 2) it doesn't know enough about SF in other languages. Reading "Roadside Picnic" is a nice antidote to both. SF is meant to be Science and Fiction, not Pulp and Trash.
As a novel it isn't perfect. I reckon it only really gets going about 3/4 of the way through, but having said that, the first 3/4 ARE readable. Like Lem's "Solaris" it tackles questions about ETs that corporate SF doesn't deal with, like "Can we communicate with aliens?" & "Can we even understand them?". The aliens in Roadside Picnic aren't two dimensional Klingons or Vulcans, but genuinely alien.
Some of the dialogue could do with tidying up too (translator's fault?), but unlike the majority of junk that masquerades as classic Science Fiction in English, it stands up as literature and a good novel in its own right. Theodore Sturgeon's excellent foreword points this out better than I can.
One more thing... you might be surprised to find out that Russian characters are actually thin on the ground in this novel. They seem to be in the minority - apart from Kirill. There are no obvious "Soviet vibes" from it either, political or otherwise.
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Format: Paperback
There are several used book sellers here selling a copy of this book for far, far too much. The 2007 SF Masterworks version is currently selling on Amazon.co.uk for about 3 pounds, an order of magnitude less than these scoundrels are selling it for. If you want a copy of this book and don't want to pay an arm and a leg for it, make sure to get this new edition straight from Amazon.co.uk. (Fantastic book!)
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