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Roadside Picnic (SF Collector's Edition) Paperback – August 24, 2000
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
"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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The overall story is amazing however this particular translation is not. It is not necessarily a bad translation it jut feature some different terminology such as "visit... Read morePublished 10 months ago by William Iannuccilli
Hey! You stinkin' aliens - get back here and pick up your rubbish!
Well, I kinda felt that this book was supposed to have some deep and meaningful message, but if it... Read more
A masterpiece that has made history even until this day. The brilliant minds of the Strugatsky brothers combined with a masterful command of words gave birth to a flawless story. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Melinda De Ross
i am interested in knowing how the russians view sf. it is likely me, but i gave it 3 stars because i find it difficult to understand. not a page turner.Published 14 months ago by Margaret Arthur
This book has been on my to read list for ages and considering the good things I'd heard about it I'm surprised it took me this long to finally read it. Read morePublished 15 months ago by M. Brookes
Strange, unexpected. One of the best I've read in several years.Published 18 months ago by K. Sherman
Great old novel, a good example of non-English language SF.
A shame that the picture made of it was nowhere near as good.
It should be remade.