The other day, we're standing in the repository; it's evening already, nothing left to do but dump the lab suits, then I can head down to the Borscht for my daily dose of booze. I'm relaxing, leaning on the wall, my work all done and a cigarette at the ready, dying for a smoke — I haven't smoked for two hours — while he keeps fiddling with his treasures. One safe is loaded, locked, and sealed shut, and he's loading yet another one — taking the empties from our transporter, inspecting each one from every angle and they are heavy bastards, by the way, fourteen pounds each , and, grunting slightly, carefully depositing them on the shelf. He's been struggling with these empties for ages, and all, in my opinion, with no benefit to humanity or himself.
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Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky. Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky ,. Boris Strugatsky. Theodore Sturgeon Introduction. Antonina W. Bouis Translator. Red Schuhart is a stalker, one of those young rebels who are compelled, in spite of extreme danger, to venture illegally into the Zone to collect the mysterious artifacts that the alien visitors left scattered around.
His life is dominated by the place and the thriving black market in the alien products. But when he and his friend Kirill go into the Zone together to pick u Red Schuhart is a stalker, one of those young rebels who are compelled, in spite of extreme danger, to venture illegally into the Zone to collect the mysterious artifacts that the alien visitors left scattered around. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published August 24th by Gollancz first published More Details Original Title.
Red Schuhart. John W. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Roadside Picnic , please sign up. Is Roadside Picnic hard sf in the Golden Age tradition? Andy No. Not at all. This is a novel about how an incomprehensible alien event changes a community and the people who live there.
There is no attempt to li …more No. There is no attempt to link what happened to any reasonable scientific theory or fact. The author even goes out of his way to show how clueless the scientists in the story are as to how the alien artifacts function. What book be comparable to this one. I would put "Solaris" in the "psychedelic science fiction" book shelf, and "Roadside Picnic" in the …more These books are very different one from the other.
I would put "Solaris" in the "psychedelic science fiction" book shelf, and "Roadside Picnic" in the "dark science fiction" one. See all 6 questions about Roadside Picnic…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews.
Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Roadside Picnic. SF writers typically approach alien contact in grandiose terms, but the Strugatsky brothers wonder instead, "What if it is more like a 'Roadside Picnic? After an interval--however long it takes for an alien to enjoy a meal al fresco--they lift off from our uninteresting planet, probably never to return, leaving behind the star voyager equivalent of empty beer cans, plasti SF writers typically approach alien contact in grandiose terms, but the Strugatsky brothers wonder instead, "What if it is more like a 'Roadside Picnic?
After an interval--however long it takes for an alien to enjoy a meal al fresco--they lift off from our uninteresting planet, probably never to return, leaving behind the star voyager equivalent of empty beer cans, plastic forks, paper napkins, cigarette butts, and perhaps a noxious spill or two. This book is the story of the "stalkers," the smugglers who venture into The Zone to bring back some of these dangerous and ultimately baffling artifacts for sale on the black market.
The book begins as a rather straightforward adventure made superior by the imaginative creation of the Zone and its artifacts the Strugatsky's add just the right details to delineate a place and evoke a mood, never more but it deepens and enriches further as we learn more about Red and the stalkers, what they have risked and how very much they have lost.
The climax is satisfying, for we follow our hero on his last mission, watch him face a grave moral choice, commit a great crime, and yet still reveal himself to us as completely human, and--at bottom--essentially good.
View all 14 comments. When people talk about the "special" feel of Russian literature, I tend to shrug it away as yet another point of confusion "Westerners" have with anything Slavic. This is a story of the aftermath of the aliens' visit to our planet. Well, a visit may be too grand of a word. No wonder that in popular culture Chernobyl and Strugatsky's "stalker" became intertwined. The disheartening insignificance of the contact goes well against the well-established rules of science fiction.
There was no communication, no contact, nothing. It appears that despite the hopes of all the sci-fi writers over decades, we were not that interesting to the other intelligence - actually, we probably weren't even worth noticing. Just a matter-of-fact quick purposeless roadstop and a bunch of refuse - which still proceeds to affect the lives of people around the mysterious Zones.
Picture a forest, a country road, a meadow. Cars drive off the country road into the meadow, a group of young people get out carrying bottles, baskets of food, transistor radios, and cameras. They light fires, pitch tents, turn on the music.
In the morning they leave. The animals, birds, and insects that watched in horror through the long night creep out from their hiding places. And what do they see? Old spark plugs and old filters strewn around Rags, burnt-out bulbs, and a monkey wrench left behind Red Schuhart is a "stalker" - a "riffraff" taking frequent quick forays into the Zone to smuggle out the alien artifacts that are valued on the black market, undeterred by having to live on the outside of the law, always at risk of horrific side effects or death inside and imprisonment outside.
He does what he does not for any noble purpose but simply because there's little else to do. He is a common guy, ordinary, inconsequential, average, hard-hit by life. His goals are not noble - just survival. In life, he is a bottomfeeder. It's underscored many times how inconsequential Red is - and maybe it's precisely why his plight has such an appeal to us. After all, despite the bravado, most of us carry no illusions of our own significance in the grand scheme of things.
The visits to the Zone that we undertake with Red and his less cynical, more wide-eyed companions - first ill-fated Kirill, then just as ill-fated Arthur - are harrowing in a peculiarly surreal fashion. It's not about what's happening - it's about the possibility of something unknown yet dreadful happening, the nerves set completely on the edge, the uneasiness of tense anticipation. You can feel the characters on the verge of snapping, and the uneasy feeling is omnipresent.
And yes, in the true Russian and Soviet fashion, the politics are very much in the background of this story even if it's written as though it's seemingly apolitical.
The idea of little people affected by the "bigger things" that are out of their reach. The caution of us unable to understand and come to grasp with even the refuse of the outside civilization.
The endless corruption that always seen to almost spontaneously spring into being. The mundane drone hopelessness of being just cogs in the machine.
The hollowness of the society. The bitterness of a small person when faced with something larger - be it other worlds, or the government, or the powers that we do not understand, or humanity itself.
And yet there is something akin to hope in the end - or, on the other thought, maybe there is not. Redrick's semi-delusional soliloquy at the end of the book, in the sight of the mysterious Golden Sphere - the feverish, desperate, pleading semi-rational painful revelation as he with horror realizes that "My whole life I haven't had a single thought! Maybe there's no answer, after all. And he was no longer trying to think. He just kept repeating to himself in despair, like a prayer, "I'm an animal, you can see that I'm an animal.
I have no words, they haven't taught me the words; I don't know how to think, those bastards didn't let me learn how to think. But if you really are -- all powerful, all knowing, all understanding -- figure it out! Look into my soul, I know -- everything you need is in there.
It has to be.
It is the brothers' most popular and most widely translated novel outside the former Soviet Union. As of , Boris Strugatsky has counted 55 publications of "Picnic" in 22 countries. The story is published in English in a translation by Antonina W. Stanislaw Lem wrote an afterword to the German edition of The term "stalker" became a part of the Russian language and according to the authors, became the most popular of their neologisms. In the book, a stalker is a person who breaks the prohibition, enters the Zone and takes out artifacts from it, which he sells as a living.