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Roadside Picnic

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  13,419 ratings  ·  764 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 209 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Chicago Review Press (first published 1972)
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Nataliya

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.

But when I tried to explain the feeling this book evoked in me to a few "Westerners" I startlingly realized that "it just *feels* so essentially Russian" may indeed be a valid description that encompasses the soul-searching ambiguity, the pursuit of deeper truths shrouded in light sadness, the frustrating but yet revealing lack of answ
...more
Keely
I play video games, now and again, but I don't care about being 'good' at them. I'm not competitive about my skills. I'm interested in the story, the characters, and the world. After a particularly irritating series of losing battles, I frustratedly told a friend "I don't want to have to spend a bunch of time practicing and becoming an expert just to get on with the story. It would be like having to read the same page of the book over and over until I 'got it right' and could proceed to the end! ...more
Bill  Kerwin

SF writers typically approach alien contact in grandiose terms, but the Strugatsky brothers wonder instead, "What if it is more like a 'Roadside Picnic?'"

Aliens trekking through space find they have to rest a spell and land on Terra, for lunch, a little r & r, perhaps a smoke. 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, pl
...more
Forrest
Another gem introduced to me by my friends at Goodreads. This short novel is a "how-to" on sidelong insinuations, information gaps, and inferences that make for a wholly satisfying story. The main character, Redrick Schuhart, starts out as an entrepreneurial collector of alien artifacts, and becomes a hardened, curmudgeonly, but effective artifact hunter searching for (view spoiler). The Strugatsky brot ...more
Hadrian


In the 1940s, during the height of the Pacific island campaigns of the Second World War, the United States, the United Kingdom, and their allies built airbases and other facilities on Melanesian islands. The local inhabitants, who had only previously had localized and temporary contact with the West, if they had any at all, were suddenly introduced to technology far beyond the range of their experience, such as refrigeration, or airplanes, or soft drinks.

When the war ended and we all left, the
...more
Nate D
Oct 09, 2014 Nate D rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Zones
Recommended to Nate D by: Tarkovsky
At long last. Somehow Andrei Tarkovsky was able to read this, extract an absolute masterpiece of pseudo-genre film, and yet actually have almost no relation to the source. Where Tarkovsky took this into ambiguity and philosophic riffs, the original is more specific in its terms, dealing almost entirely with the massive criminal economy that springs up in the wake of a tremendous event (if you've ever wondered what the Zone actually is, here we're simply told in the first pages, but that doesn't ...more
Jason Kelley
This is the novel on which Andrea Tarkovsky based the motion picture Stalker. I have been an enormous fan of this film for years and was excited to finally get my hands on this novel. It wasn't so easy to do just 5 years ago. Thank you internet.

An alien culture visits earth in several different locations. There is no human contact, and the aliens don't stay long. But they do leave behind a myriad collection of technological bits and an immediate landscape that is uninhabitable and very dangerou
...more
Aaron
Absolutely crazy good. A tight little bundle of joy concerning the aftermath of an alien visitation. This speaks to human behavior, the essence of intelligence, and a whole butt load of other wonderful philisophical and moral questions. Pure literature.
Gwyn Ryan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ruby  Tombstone [Uncensored or Else]
Well, this wasn't quite what I was expecting. I came into this knowing that the book was about the debris left behind by alien visitors to Earth, and that it posed questions around what humankind would do if we couldn't figure its mysteries. What if we found alien technology, and had no idea how to use it or for what purpose it might be used? What if we didn't know how it came to be here, never mind what it all might mean? I was expecting this to be a look at the issues of cross-cultural underst ...more
Jim
It has been many years since I last read one of the Strugatsky brothers' sci-fi novels. Although they have gotten to be hard to find, I will make the effort, because I have just finished reading one of the best books I have undertaken during this dying year: Roadside Picnic is deceptively short and simple, but eerie traps lie in wait for the reader; and he will be lucky to escape with his beliefs intact.

The earth has been visited by extraterrestrials. They had landed in a number of evenly spaced
...more
Evgeny
Strugatsky brothers have a cult following on the territories of the former Soviet Union; think Heinlein of the Soviets. This is probably their best-known novel internationally thanks to a movie Stalker by Tarkovsky and several video games by the same name.

The main idea explained right in the prolog. A highly advanced alien race left (discarded?) artifacts and anomalies in several places on Earth called Zones. The Zones are dangerous, but the artifacts are highly prized and so some people called
...more
Chris
In a lot of scifi, the aliens come to Earth with a defined purpose. Share their advanced technology, enslave the human populace, etc. Roadside Picnic takes place after the aliens have come and gone, and no one really knows why they visited this planet. However, they did leave a lot of incomprehensible doodads that fascinate simian minds and sell like hotcakes on the black market. It's an interesting premise focusing on how society (and the humans in it) responds after a mysterious visitation. I ...more
Michael
Aliens have made contact, or have they? Thirteen years after the visitation, an international science cooperative has locked up each landing site, dubbed Zones in an effort to study the unexplained phenomena. Red Schuhart is a stalker, someone that sneaks into the zones and tries to collect artefacts. Despite the legal ramifications, artefacts on the black market sell really well. When Red puts together another team to collect a “full empty” everything goes wrong.

The attempts to gain publication
...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
The Visit occurred sometime in last half of the 20th century. Aliens dropped by earth, landing in six areas scattered across the globe. They stayed a few days and then they left. What becomes known as The Zones are the sites of their brief sojourn on our planet. Behind them the left landscapes where the laws of physic no longer apply, or have perhaps simply taken a vicious turn. They have also left odd detritus, objects of alien manufacture of immense interest to science and very profitable on t ...more
Christopher
I'd previously tried watching "Stalker," the movie that was loosely based upon "Roadside Picnic" but quit it about 15 minutes in, the Soviet stylings and sensibilities still too bleak for my psyche. The only reason I did get to reading the actual book is because I recently learned that many fans considered it to be the inspiration for the SyFy miniseries, "The Lost Room" of which I am a devotee of epically-geek status.

I often read copious amounts of reviews and spoilers before I decide to delve
...more
Ian
May 09, 2012 Ian marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Top Story
A New Translation of The One Russian Science Fiction Novel You Absolutely Must Read

By Annalee Newitz
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. Originally written in the early 1970s, it's back in print in English after 30 years, with a brand-new translation by Olena Bormashenko and a riveting afterword by Boris Strugatsky about how the book was butchered by Soviet censors. It's a s
...more
Greg Bates
Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky is the novel that inspired the Russian film Stalker, and later the popular Russian video game series of the same name. The basic idea is that some extraterrestrial intelligence accidentally (or purposely) seeded the Earth with a number of alien pods that transformed the miles of land around them into capital-z Zones, areas where bizarre flora and fauna thrive and villages stay for decades as rustless and perfect as the were the day of the 'Visitation.' Resear ...more
RandomAnthony
Roadside Picnic is a curious book with a curious story. Written by brothers (how often does that happen?) in the late sixties, the novel's storyline is easier to describe than its feel. An alien visit leaves "zones" throughout the planet where earth-physics don't necessarily apply. The zones are littered with artifacts and "stalkers" sneak past government barricades to steal mysterious items for the black market. These stalkers' health and DNA changes the more they enter a zone. Behind the noir- ...more
Stephen
2.5 stars. This is one of those books that I just didn't get into though it was well written and was full of interesting ideas. I may have to put this one on my list of books to re-read at some point to see if I missed something. For the moment, this one was just a bit too "out there" for me.

Nominee: John W. Campbell Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.
Derek (Guilty of thoughtcrime)
Fascinatingly different. This sat on my "currently reading" shelf for months as I didn't actually read it. Then once I started, I finished it in a day.

What happens when aliens drop by, have a picnic, leave behind all their garbage, and depart without ever even trying to talk to us?

I still can't decide if the ending was hokey.…
...more
Megan Baxter
Being below the concern of alien beings is not a new science fiction theme (although it is a relatively rare one), but I've never read a book that examined the idea quite like this. Ursula K. Le Guin's foreword is right - most of the time, the people who interact with alien technology are highly skilled and educated, even if, as in Rendezvous With Rama, the aliens couldn't care less about us.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforc
...more
Lilla Smee
I've been wanting to read this ever since I read Metro 2033, because of suggested links between the two. But the connection between the two fictions is loose, and the novels themselves are very different, not least of all in length. Roadside Picnic is a very easily consumed 160 pages. It's a faintly claustrophobic and disturbing sociological and philosophical exploration of how the technological remnants of an alien visitation impact humanity.

According to Wikipedia, Roadside Picnic was refused p
...more
Greg McClay
First of all its Russian and that should always be taken in consideration in terms of perspective. Whether its before, after or during the Soviet era Russians seem to be pessimists at heart.

As science fiction goes its a great concept, although the line between science and fantasy is pretty thin throughout the book. The plot is science fiction but the details are all fantasy, the scope is too large and anything can happen with twists that are more mystical than physical. In the end its probably a
...more
Robert
Roadside picnic sees Earth receiving Visitors from the direction of Deneb for a very brief time, leaving behind six Zones where they stayed, and a whole heap of very strange phenomena and artifacts are to be found in each. Scientists want to study but there is a black market for artifacts brought out of the Zones by "stalkers" who risk their lives, illegally entiring the unpredictable and lethal alien affected areas at night.

The story is told from three points of view but is really about only on
...more
Tom Lichtenberg
Roadside Picnic is a classic science fiction story written by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, and is also known as the source of the film Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky. I had not read the story or seen the film in many, many years. Yesterday I re-read it after finding it online and realized that it had made an enormous impression on me, one that stuck through all these years.

Told in a hard-boiled, Dashiell-Hammett like way, the story tells of a 'Zone', a mysterious area where the laws of nature as we
...more
Ben
Roadside Picnic is a conceptually strong science fiction novel dealing with the down-and-dirty side of potential first (one-sided) contact. However, it rarely spends long directly addressing the conceptual side (except during one particular passage of dialogue between Valentine and Noonan). The focus of the novel is on the lives of the Stalkers, particularly Redrick Schuhart - reflecting at the time concerns about nuclear fallout, rampant scientific research, and poverty. Their lives are brutal, ...more
David
Kenzaburo Oe's daughter is rather upset by the film of this book in Oe's "A Quiet Life".

The idea is great, and it is this that they carried over to the film: aliens drop by earth on their way to somewhere far more interesting. At the sites of their "roadside picnics" the aliens have left a wealth of bizarre, confusing and highly dangerous artefacts, plant life, and atmospheric conditions. Science is fucked beyond belief and struggling to hold its shit together and a criminal underworld of "stal
...more
Leo Robertson
It’s clear very early on what a huge influence this book had on Tarkovsky. I couldn’t get that quote from Solaris out my head: “We don’t need other worlds, we need mirrors.” In some of the dialogue, I kept expecting it to be the next sentence. Here we see a world of stalkers and scientists alike trying to make sense of the Zone, living their lives around it, investigating, obsessing, profiting, and succumbing to it, but never truly making sense of it.
I suppose one regret is that I can’t read it
...more
Charlotte
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Sci Fi Aficionados: * March 2013 Themed Read-Roadside Picnic 22 77 Jun 09, 2013 04:52PM  
Recommendations 3 76 Jan 22, 2013 07:46PM  
Reddit SF Book Club: 'Roadside Picnic' by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky is the May Selection 1 21 May 01, 2012 11:13PM  
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The brothers Arkady (Russian: Аркадий; August 28, 1925 – October 12, 1991) and Boris (Russian: Борис; April 14, 1933 – November 19, 2012) Strugatsky (Russian: Стругацкий; alternate spellings: Strugatskiy, Strugatski, Strugatskii) were Soviet-Russian science fiction authors who collaborated on their fiction.
More about Arkady Strugatsky...
Понедельник начинается в субботу Hard to Be a God Обитаемый остров Град обреченный The Snail on the Slope

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“Мы будем делать Добро из Зла, потому что его больше не из чего делать.” 46 likes
“The hypothesis of God, for instance, gives an incomparably absolute opportunity to understand everything and know absolutely nothing. Give man an extremely simplified system of the world and explain every phenomenon away on the basis of that system. An approach like that doesn't require any knowledge. Just a few memorized formulas plus so-called intuition and so-called common sense.” 37 likes
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