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SF Masterworks #61-70 > #68-Roadside Picnic

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message 1: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte (charlotte-) | 8 comments The reading status alerts don't seem to work well here - I showed when midway, but once I showed my status as finished I disappeared. So it is hard to tell how many in the group are actually reading right now. Anyway, here is my review:
** spoiler alert ** I enjoyed this book. Not being one who likes to delve deep and tease out all the hidden and contorted meanings of a book (hence I have never liked poetry, which seems to have to be read in this deconstructive way) i take it for what appears to me to be its face value. Some aliens visited briefly, perhaps had a picnic, and left behind artifacts that are potentially dangerous and lethal, and can corrupt humans both physically and psychologically. Humans being what they are, curious and greedy, there will always be some who will risk almost anything to make a quick buck, but with the main character we see more happening, as he seems to be a highly rational being who understands how he is being corrupted, although whether he recognizes this as resulting only from normal human influences: human failings, his loyalty to his town (city?), the corrupting influence of those he works with and in the end from being prevented by law from escaping; or also from the effects of the artifacts with which he comes into contact is not entirely clear. The last chapter suggests that his motivation is revenge on the most corrupting of his colleagues, but his relationship with his daughter and his dead father surely suggests that he understands the alien corrupting influence and that he too may be walking to his doom. But I agree with others, his final monologue is not very clear, except that he is going to join the picnic! But it is as satisfactory an ending as that of Gone with the Wind - I remember my sister asking me when I read the book at age 13 whether I thought Rhett would go back to Scarlett & being surprised that I gave the unromantic answer No. The same question could be asked here - will Red survive this? My answer is no. But what remains ambiguous is whether he is at this point simply a raving lunatic, or whether he is truly communicating at some level with the aliens & will in some way join them and not simply die. Of course, the creatures like his father suggest there is no such thing as simple death in the Zone! ... so the questions go on. But this does not mean that the book is unfinished. No story is ever finished, life is not like that.


message 2: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte (charlotte-) | 8 comments Anyone else reading / read Roadside Picnic?


message 3: by Sooz (new)

Sooz Charlotte: i ordered it from my local independent bookstore, but am still waiting for it to come in. sigh.

i did see the film entitled 'Stalker' based on Roadside Picnic, which i liked a great deal. however, as you say you like very straightforward stories and have no love of poetry, i can't see you really enjoying it. it is in Russian with subtitles, is very slow-paced and over-brimming with symbolism. the screenplay was written by the brothers Strugatsky - the authors of the novel

*spoilers ahead*

i am curious to see how the endings compare. in the film it ends with the main character, who is only known to us as the Stalker, returning from a trip to the zone to his family. the final scene is of the Stalker's daughter - considered a 'child of the zone' - who has some disablilites but demonstrates some unusual abilities as well.

do the Stalker's daughter and wife appear in the story?


message 4: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte (charlotte-) | 8 comments Sooz wrote: "Charlotte: i ordered it from my local independent bookstore, but am still waiting for it to come in. sigh.

i did see the film entitled 'Stalker' based on Roadside Picnic, which i liked a great..."

I confess I found a PDF version online - eagerly awaiting my Kindle, so my excuse is getting used to electronic reading!

"spoilers"
Yes, the wife and child are in the book, but I would say it sounds like the film has taken liberties with the conclusion! I will be interested to hear what you think of the ending as compared with the movie. My comments are in my review, so don't read it unless you like spoilers~! (see discussion re "Do you read last page before finishing whole book" under Off Topic in SciFi and Fantasy Book Club)


message 5: by Sooz (new)

Sooz Charlotte - thanks for the scoop on the availability of Roadside Picnic on line. i've found it and will start reading it. unfortunately, i don't have any portable means to access the internet. i will be confined to my desk to read it so i'm not sure how quick i'll get through it.


message 6: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte (charlotte-) | 8 comments Sooz wrote: "Charlotte - thanks for the scoop on the availability of Roadside Picnic on line. i've found it and will start reading it. unfortunately, i don't have any portable means to access the internet. i..."
Yes, I have resisted online reading on my PC, but I found this an easy and fast read - it is not very long.
Getting my Kindle soon (Sept. 10 + shipping!)


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