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Roadside Picnic (Rediscovered Classics) by [Strugatsky, Arkady, Strugatsky, Boris]
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Roadside Picnic (Rediscovered Classics) Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 242 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"[A] vivid new translation... it has survived triumphantly as a classic." —Publishers Weekly
"[Roadside Picnic] reminds us how well science fiction explores humanity" —Sacramento News & Review
"A new translation of Roadside Picnic is a major event. The novel is routinely included in lists of the 100 greatest science fiction novels, and its influence of popular culture is immense....Besides [Ursula] Le Guin's foreword, the Chicago Review Press edition contains a witty afterword by Boris Strugatsky." —The Oregonian


"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


"[T]his is a fantastic book. One of my favorite recommendations of the year." —Boing Boing

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.


Product Details

  • File Size: 1538 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: #40,685 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By TChris TOP 500 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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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
This is now my favorite sci-fi novel of all time, surpassing (I never thought I’d say this) Phillip K. Dick, Neal Stephenson and other giants of the genre. Not sure how I missed this for so long, but glad I finally found it.

The set up is simple and brilliant: aliens visited the earth some years prior -- possibly on a picnic -- and left behind a messy zone swirling with dangerous, unpredictable areas that run counter to the laws of physics but riddled with artifacts (possibly trash, but light years ahead of our technology). Under an authoritarian military and scientific presence, a community of stalkers — people who risk it all to sneak into the dangerous “zone” to secure the strange items and sell them on the black market — thrives, but at great physical and emotional risk.

What he manages to do with that setting is amazing. First, reading about the strange technology and how unwitting humans would interact with it is nothing short of miraculous. It felt so real, and yet so completely, well, alien. Second, the character development, imbued with the Russian soul of long-suffering pragmatism, was remarkable. Third, and most impressive, is literary depth of this slender work — the insanely nuanced commentary on life under communism, the subversive critiques of capitalism and science and the deep insights into the human condition and our unease with our place in the universe.

Loved lines like this: “Austin isn’t a bad guy, he’s got the right mix of courage and cowardice.” And, “I’m not proud, I just don’t like counting pennies, that’s all.” And, “I think and think, can’t think of a thing, and decide not to give a damn.”

Read it.
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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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