I’ll be the first one to admit that I don’t reach much science fiction. In fact, the last science fiction novels I remember reading are The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series and The Search for Snout. The first was a high school obsession spanning several years and the second one, I read in grade school.
Hellbent on changing this, I went looking for an approachable sci-fi on Netgalley. And was pretty excited to find Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky and Boris Strugatsky.
Here’s the publisher’s synopsis:
Red Schuhart is a stalker, one of those young rebels who are compelled, in spite of the 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 up a “full empty,” something goes wrong. And the news he gets from his girlfriend upon his return makes it inevitable that he’ll keep going back to the Zone, again and again, until he finds the answer to all his problems.
First published in 1972 and immediately acclaimed as a science-fiction classic, Roadside Picnic is included on almost every list of the hundred greatest science-fiction novels, despite the fact that it has been out of print in the United States for almost thirty years. It was the basis for Andrei Tarkovsky’s filmic masterpiece Stalker and the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. video games, which have proven immensely popular.
This brand-new translation, which corrects many of the errors and omissions of the previous one, has been supplemented with a foreword by Ursula K. Le Guin, and a new afterword by Boris Strugatsky explaining the strange history of its publication in Russia. Finally, one of the greatest science fiction novels—and one of the most popular pieces of Russian fiction—is back in print in an authoritative edition.