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Roadside Picnic Paperback – Aug 24 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: McArthur & Company / Not Applicable (Aug. 24 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575070536
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575070530
  • Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 1.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 222 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,819,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews

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
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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By Kieran Fox on Nov. 9 2010
Format: Paperback
I had little if any exposure to 'Soviet' sci-fi before reading this book, except for the excellent 'Solaris' by Lem. This ranks up there with Solaris, and among the best sci-fi books I've ever read. The theme of an alien 'visitation' yet with no aliens to be found is extremely original and well-executed. The major theme of the book, explained in title (which I won't ruin here) is profound and deeply thought-provoking, along the lines of what Lem was getting at in Solaris as well - that alien intelligences may be so incredibly different from our own that meaningful 'contact' may be impossible. Expecting basically humanoid forms with an extra eye or blue skin is just ludicrous, and the Strugatsky's give a very interesting perspective on what the implications of this may be for us.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 55 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Excellent, but not the only excellent book of Strugatsky Aug. 18 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
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...
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Tired of hackneyed modern themes in SciFi? Oct. 14 2003
By Jack Purcell - Published on Amazon.com
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.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
One of my favorite books: May 25 2007
By Galina - Published on Amazon.com
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. Such great and desperate was Red's desire to get his daughter back that he took with him an innocent young man, teenager really, perfectly knowing that the man will never return from the Zone. Red found out that after he finally reached the Sphere, he did not know what and how to ask; his only hope was that the magic tool would reach inside his soul and find that his soul was still alive and bleeding from pain and begging for his daughter and for forgiveness.

Andrei Tarkovsky took the final chapter of the book and used the idea of the last trip for the film "Stalker" He himself along with the Strugatsky Brothers had rewritten the screenplay many times until he was satisfied with it. As much as I respect Tarkovsky and admire his films, I am not a fan of "Stalker" and I'd prefer if he had adapted the final chapter the way Strugatsky Brothers wrote it. I found the last chapter of the book much more interesting, deeper, and tragic than all the debates among the characters and monologues of the Stalker and his wife in the film.
28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
SF needs to get back to its roots June 19 2003
By R Bell - Published on Amazon.com
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.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Great book - watch out for overpriced "used" books July 29 2007
By Alan Friesen - Published on Amazon.com
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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