Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Roadside Picnic / Tale of the Troika” as Want to Read:
Roadside Picnic / Tale of the Troika
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Roadside Picnic / Tale of the Troika

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  16,362 ratings  ·  932 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
Hardcover, 245 pages
Published May 1977 by Macmillan Publishing Co. (first published 1972)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Roadside Picnic / Tale of the Troika, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Ryan It's difficult to call it hard sci-fi because of the ambiguous nature of the aliens' intent in their visitation; though as the title suggests, earth…moreIt's difficult to call it hard sci-fi because of the ambiguous nature of the aliens' intent in their visitation; though as the title suggests, earth was just a rest stop on a journey for the aliens. Even harder to call it hard sci-fi because of the nature of the anomalies and artifacts left by the visitation, which often defy physics as we know it. When I think of hard sci-fi, I think of books based on theories, hypotheses grounded in what we know of science, there isn't much of that here. That being said, for how short the book is, it is an outstanding read for fans of all types of sci-fi, and a great look into a society that was essentially cut-off from the world at the time of its writing. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details

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
Jeffrey Keeten
”Intelligence is the attribute of man that separates his activity from that of the animals. It’s a kind of attempt to distinguish the master from the dog, who seems to understand everything but can’t speak. However, this trivial definition does lead to wittier ones. They are based on depressing observations of the aforementioned human activity. For example: intelligence is the ability of a living creature to perform pointless or unnatural act.”

“Yes, that’s us!”

 photo Stalker_zpsnki59goq.jpg
There is a 1979 film by Andrei Tar
J.G. 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
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
Nate D
Oct 09, 2014 Nate D rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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

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
Mona Temchin

Gripping Russian Science Fiction

"Roadside Picnic" is a gripping science fiction story written while the U.S.S.R. was still alive and well, although it wasn't published until years after it was first written; and it took longer still for the original version (without cuts) to be published.

The authors, two brothers, have an entirely original viewpoint. There are no American or British science fiction novels like this in any way.

In a way the novella can be read as an indictment of capitalism. It ca
Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance]
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
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.
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
Gwyn Ryan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I suggested this book for the Cardiff SF/F bookclub.

Reading this again after finishing Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance), the debt is obvious. If VanderMeer hasn’t read Roadside Picnic, there’s a whole bunch of similarities: the central idea, that maybe humans and aliens won’t/can’t understand each other, the mysterious and unknowable purpose behind the alien presence, the transformations of people in and around the Zone, even the revenant people who
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
This was an interesting read (and although its showing the SF masterworks cover - I did choose the Gollancz Yellow Jacket edition) as part of a run of classic titles I decided to embark upon. There are as I say much better reviews on this book what I will say is that this is an intriguing book which took a unique concept and turned it in to something quite different. The science fiction aspect of the story really takes second place to the characters - almost a plot device to get the people where ...more
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
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
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
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
4 stars rounded to 5
I have never came across the Strugatsky brothers until I saw this book mentioned in a group read. Since then, I learned that it is one of the must-read books in Soviet-era Russian sci-fi genre and has been included in the Bloomsbury's 100 Must-Read Science Fiction Novels. What a find!

First contact is a common theme in science fiction. Typically, the interaction with aliens brings humankind either great cultural exchanges and technological advances or an invasion with catast
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
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
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
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
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
Too bad I did not read this one prior to VanderMeer's Southern Reach, because now I cannot help thinking about the Zone otherwise than being another Area X, when it obviously should have been the other way around.

It is an untypical sci-fi story, centered on human behavior when facing the unknown, with accents of ethics, psychology and a bit of politics.

It's the kind of book that the more you think about it, the more you'll like it. I guess that Strugatsky brothers' slogan is indeed appropriate
Michael Brookes
This book has been on my to read list for ages and considering the good things I'd heard about it I'm surprised it took me this long to finally read it. Well I have and I'm glad I did as it's a superb sci-fi read.

The core concept is one I enjoy, it deals with a first contact situation but in an unusual way. In this instance the aliens don't seem to notice or care about our presence as they pass through. The analogy of the roadside picnic is a fun one. It also touches on an excession event (Ian M
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.
Whilst reading this splendid book I realised that some of my favourite books are genre books, specifically crime, noir and science fiction. These books are almost always ignored by prestigious mainstream awards despite containing some of the most compelling, imaginative and provocative ideas in fiction.

"Roadside Picnic" by Arkady Strugatsky and Boris Strugatsky is a short science fiction novel written in 1971. By 1998, 38 editions of the novel were published in 20 countries. The film "Stalker"
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 a ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Sci-fi and Heroic...: Roadside Picnic 54 50 Aug 01, 2015 04:46PM  
Sci Fi Aficionados: * March 2013 Themed Read-Roadside Picnic 22 82 Jun 09, 2013 04:52PM  
Recommendations 3 80 Jan 22, 2013 07:46PM  
  • The Futurological Congress: From the Memoirs of Ijon Tichy
  • Dark Benediction
  • Mockingbird
  • The Book of Skulls
  • Star Maker
  • The Inverted World
  • The Child Garden
  • Non-Stop
  • The Slynx
  • Emphyrio
  • Life During Wartime
  • The Rediscovery of Man
  • The Fifth Head of Cerberus
  • Фальшивые зеркала (Лабиринт отражений, #2)
  • The Complete Roderick
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

Share This Book

“Мы будем делать Добро из Зла, потому что его больше не из чего делать.” 54 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.” 47 likes
More quotes…