Roadside Picnic

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brilliant book, read it once in german and, many years later, in english. an absolute recommendation to anyone who knows how to read!
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Good story. And if you go through the wikipedia article on it, there's a link to download it, down in the references.
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That one available through Wikipedia is the earliest translation of the book into english, if I'm not mistaken.Personally, I'd like to get my hands on Olena Bormashenko's new translation that came out last year. It's a restoration to the original version and I'd like to go through Boris Strugatsky's afterword about the censorship the book was subjected to.
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Great book. I also love the STALKER world that it inspired.You should change your link up top to go to the printing that also has a Kindle version!
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I'm not as well read as many in sci-fi but I had a feeling that "The Lost Room" and subsequently "Warehouse 13" got their inspiration from somewhere.
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Get out of here STALKER..
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for moar: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. was based on Andrei Tarkovsky's film "Stalker", which is also neat to see.reading the book and watching Stalker would be more or less homomorphic to playing Eve and playing Dust.
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So, I love the STALKER games, the movie was pretty cool too, but after SoC came out I decided I needed to read A Roadside Picnic. At the time it wasn't readily available in the US and I ended up having to order it from some place like Romania or something, but I'm glad I did. I was really pleasantly surprised by it. in fact it holds a place in my "Damn Good Sci-fi" bookshelf. I've loaned it out a few times now and it's always been returned with a puzzled look and the words "I'm.. really not sure if I liked that book, it wasn't what I expected when you said STALKER, but I'd absolutely read it again." Seriously, pick this book up. Its no thicker than your thumb, and for being a russian translation its an amazingly fast read, you can easily do it in an afternoon.
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I'm really curious, and unfortunately don't have time to reread it. What kind of censorship was it subjected to? Nothing glaring comes to mind, but I read the version with the cover in the article.
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This book was denied publication for ten years in USSR, however it was published in periodic literature. After ten years a heavily modified version of the book was published in 1980. The original text was only published after the deconstruction of USSR during the nineties.Also from what I read to publish a book in the West, its variants must be removed from publicly available sources (except libraries). However the authors refused to remove the Russian version from their site. That impeded some of their works translation in English.
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An excellent book.
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An excellent read, very different to the standard SciFi fare. The idea of the jelly reminds me a little about several classics which dealt with Amoeba.
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Loved that book. Short but sweet, and long enough to get it's idea's across without overstaying it's welcome.
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That puzzled look happened to me too, I’m pretty sure, lol. Even though I had played the game before, which was what brought me to read Roadside Picnic, it was completely unexpected what I found there in the book. It took me about 10 seconds, after finishing it, to realize I loved it.
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Oh, wow, somehow I completely forgot I wanted to watch "The Lost Room"! I blame our ScyFy channel being terrible with constant re-runs of "Misfits".
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I didn't find any Kindle version there, only an Audible edition. I don't use Amazon much so maybe I'm just being an Amazon newbie. vOv
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Regretfully I cant judge the translation, but if it's at least one tenth as good as original, it is definitely worth reading. Arkadii Strugatski and Boris Strugatski are kind of idols for reading Russians.The book itself has its own approach to the whole concept of extraterrestrial contact and focuses not on the aliens or the moment of contact, but the aftermath of it, the ability of humanity to survive the simple fact of unimaginable force actually being existent.It is very sad that Strugatskis are not popular amongst western readers. I am not trying to downplay the titans of western sci-fi, like A. Clarke or I. Asimov or any other, but I cannot recall anybody showing the picture from this angle - like "What it means to stay human in non-human world?". And to my mind Roadside Picnic and some of their other books can bee a good addition to any library, not only library of sci-fi geek like me.And please bear with my English, Im working on it, but I can imagine it's far from perfect.

Roadside Picnic is not your usual science fiction. Most first contact stories are founded on the fundamental assumption that aliens will find the human race worthy of their attention and interesting enough to engage with—even when the first contact being militaristic in nature, we know at least we are worth having resources wasted on us. But maybe what if they just came, stopped for a picnic, and moved on, leaving behind their equivalent to our plastic wrappers, used batteries, monkey wrenches and pocket knives?

Arkady and Boris Strugatsky don’t approach the alien visitation concept in a grandiose way. This example of a first contact story differs greatly from its western action-packed counterpart; it isn’t heavy on explosions and space lasers.

The book starts several years after “the Visit”, the brief, unobserved landing of aliens in different sites across the planet that created six eerie and blighted landscapes, or “Zones”. The “Zones” are pervaded with dangerous, imperceptible anomalies, like the gravi-concentrates, a spot that suffers from extremely strong gravity, or Witch's Jelly, a colloidal gas that penetrates any material and turns it into more Witch's Jelly.

They are also abounding in odd artifacts left behind by the Visitor, from relatively commonplace objects that are nonetheless valuable to humans and that are worth a lot of money to the right buyer, to unique artifacts that are passed along as legend, like the Golden Sphere, also known as the wish machine.

Roadside Picnic shows a duality in optimism and fatalism. While several characters like to load the alien visitation with purpose and the Zones that were created as a result, there seems to be no message to decode.

One scientist, in particular, believes there was no intent behind these disturbances. To him, the aliens are akin to a group of day trippers, and the prevailing metaphysical longing, the desire to make sense of humanity’s place in the universe, remains unfulfilled. It's the same discomfort that is wrecking everyone’s life as they try to ascribe value and meaning to what might, after all, be nothing but alien junk.

Redrick ‘Red’ Schuhart is the main anti-hero and a laboratory assistant at the International Institute of Extraterrestrial Cultures which was established to study the Zones of the world. He is also a Stalker. Red navigates the Zone and brings back artifacts to sell on the black market. He remains disgruntled throughout the book, intoxicated by the Zone and its semblance of infinite possibilities and simultaneously hoping for the big score that will allow him to quit his sideline job. This inevitably draws him to the search out for the legendary Golden Sphere and its ability to grant any wish, and Red’s last and desperate hope is a sort of plea that humanity will continue to move forward against the universe’s indifference.

Look into my soul, I know — everything you need is in there. It has to be. Because I’ve never sold my soul to anyone! It’s mine, it’s human! Figure out yourself what I want — because I know it can’t be bad! The hell with it all, I just can’t think of a thing other than those words of his — HAPPINESS, FREE, FOR EVERYONE, AND LET NO ONE BE FORGOTTEN!

Roadside Picnic is also a reflection on the sociological repercussions of advanced technology carelessly discarded in our own corner of the galaxy by creatures from outer space. It focuses attentively on the unscrupulous and fiercely competitive atmosphere that would settle among us humans on our rush to turn alien litter into profit to escape poverty and starvation.

The setting and how it influences and informs the characters about life, happiness and freedom might seem analogous to the oppressive conditions in Soviet Russia, but if it renders us a glimpse of the stagnation of the Soviet era in the 70s, it does so by concentrating on how short, scarce and unpredictable are the lives of the fictional men charging into the Zone by need and by greed.

I don’t mean to say it is a book remarkably free of politics, which is not the case, but the focus of the book is largely directed towards the time concerns of unchecked scientific research and nuclear fallout.

Those who know the video game series S.T.A.L.K.E.R., especially the first game in the series, “S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl”, will recognize several main parallel plot points - such as the wish granter - and familiar elements, like the artifacts, the gravitational anomalies, and the ability to throw bolts to scout for anomalies on the trail to the center of the zone. This book did, in fact, inspire the movie that, in turn, inspired the game, so if you liked the game, the suggestion to buy this book is doubled.

Lamora has been playing EVE since—well, not that long ago. When it comes to books, she takes in everything available. She is the online alter ego of a sleep-deprived reader, gamer and film addict. What else is there to do? On twitter @LamoraSolette