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Roadside Picnic Paperback – May 1 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (May 1 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781613743416
  • ISBN-13: 978-1613743416
  • ASIN: 1613743416
  • Product Dimensions: 21.7 x 14.2 x 1.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #51,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 50 REVIEWER on March 7 2013
Format: Paperback
Several alien spaceships have visited Earth at some point in the late twentieth century. Their landing sites seem to have been chosen at random, and during their visit they made almost no attempt at contact with humans. When they finally left, their landing sites were permanently altered and “polluted” with various artifacts and substances, and the sites themselves exhibit many strange and troubling behaviors. In the years and decades following the aliens’ departure a vast array of scholars, scientists, technology experts, military interests, and black market opportunists tried to make sense of the visit and leverage the landing sites for their own varying interests. However, exploring the sites was always a very risky activity, and those who dared to venture within their carefully guarded perimeters frequently exposed themselves to harmful and often lethal consequences. These landing site visits, however brief, had impact not only on the explorers, but also subsequently on almost everyone who the explorers came in touch with.

This short Sci Fi novel reduces the subgenre of the alien visit to its most basic elements: the landing sites themselves, mysterious left-over artifacts, and the fundamental and irrevocable change that this visit has brought upon the human civilization. Within this minimalistic setup it is still possible to extract a surprising amount of narrative richness and human and intellectual drama. The main protagonist, Redrick “Red” Schuhart, is a hard-nosed “stalker” – an opportunistic and illegal rummager of the visitation zones – who is trying to make the most of his ability to extract valuable artifacts and sell them on the black market. Red is an almost prototypical antihero who is nonetheless guided by some high-minded principles and moral standard.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok TOP 500 REVIEWER on Jan. 2 2013
Format: Paperback
One of the best science fiction novels published last year is, oddly enough, among the oldest; Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's "Roadside Picnic", the inspiration for Andrei Tarkovksy's critically acclaimed film "Stalker". When it was published originally in its abbreviated English translation decades ago, none other than Theodore Sturgeon acclaimed "Roadside Picnic" as the product of "....[the] Strugatskys' deft and subtle handling of friendship and love, of despair and frustration and loneliness [produces] a truly superb tale..... You won't forget it." These are sentiments which I not only share but I believe are strongly emphasized in the newly translated edition of the entire original text of "Roadside Picnic", which is considered still as the greatest Russian science fiction novel of the 20th Century, as an excellent example of the traditional science fiction trope of "First Contact", but as Ursula Le Guin notes in the foreword to this edition, it is a "First Contact" tale in which aliens have visited Earth and ignored us, leaving behind in several areas, "Zones", debris that is potentially useful - and dangerous - to humans, especially to those willing to scavenge - "the stalkers" - it. Set somewhere unspecified in English-speaking North America, most likely Canada, "Roadside Picnic" is a most memorable odyssey of a young stalker, Red Schuhart, who is willing to test the limits of friendship and loyalty, love and desire in realizing that he must return again and again to the nearest "Zone" as a means of finding himself, as a means of finding solutions to all the problems he is facing.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Saul Bottcher on Feb. 25 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The best book I've read when it comes to conjuring up a hostile alien environment. The environment in question is the Zone, of course, which is here on Earth -- an area transformed by an alien visit before the start of the book. More than just a physically dangerous place, the Zone invokes a certain existential terror, because its hazards are often invisible, faceless, and incomprehensible. At the same time, it holds wonders that are equally incomprehensible, such as coin-sized batteries that can power a car and never run out of energy.

However, the book is more than just inventive and evocative sci-fi. The characters have a raw authenticity that puts other sci-fi books to shame, and though the book contains elements of tragedy and hopefulness, the overwhelming feeling is one of human insignificance in the wider universe.

A great book that will satisfy your urge for new ideas -- but leave you existentially disquieted.
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