January 20, 2014
Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky (Review)
Author: Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
First published: 1972
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To say that this book is a Sci-Fi classic is to say exactly nothing. Everything Strugatsky brothers wrote has become a classic, but among all their books this is the cult one. Not only has it inspired the famous computer game S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and formed a separate stalker sub-genre of Sci-Fi literature, it has also marked the beginning of the popularity of a new hobby - urban exploration or urban tourism. I've known some guys who define themselves as stalkers - they break into old destroyed plants' territories, explore manifolds with underground rivers... It's dangerous and illegal, and it has been very, very popular in Russia since the 80th when a lot of objects from the Soviet times were abandoned and deteriorating. I guess there are not many books that have had such an impact on popular culture.
Such an influential novel simply has to be awesome, and this one totally is. The world has survived an invasion. It has come and gone, leaving after itself several Zones. They may look normal from afar, but abnormal, inexplicable things happen there and all kinds of curious objects can be found there. While scientists are trying to make sense of it, some people are ready to pay money for the stuff from there, and special people - stalkers - steal to the Zone at night to get these objects for sale, risking their life and health every time they do it. There are legends connected with the Zone, one of them telling about a golden sphere that can give you whatever you ask for, if only you are good enough to get to it...
There are so many fascinating ideas in the book, that I will not even try to talk about them - you simply have to read the novel by yourself. What I will talk about here is writing - I have forgotten how well the Strugatsky brothers can show the way a person is thinking. The main character talks and thinks differently when he's 23 and when he's 31, but it's obviously the same very well recognizable man.
In my book:
It's simply a masterpiece and must be read.