The aliens have already packed up and left as Roadside Picnic begins, but their brief and apparently pointless visit has left the earth irrevocably altered. And in writing this brief, beguiling novel of first contact, the Strugatsky brothers forever altered the terrain of science fiction; their book has gone on to inspire successive generations of artists and writers, most famously Andrei Tarkovsky and Jeff VanderMeer.
In my mind, the thing that really makes this edition essential for science fiction readers is the forward provided by another pillar of the genre, Ursula K. Le Guin. In a few short, pithy pages, Le Guin uses the numerous possible readings of Roadside Picnic--a parable of Soviet failure? a referendum on human intelligence?--to prompt a much broader meditation on the possibilities of the genre.— From Theo
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 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, Roadside Picnic is still widely regarded as one of the greatest science fiction novels, despite the fact that it has been out of print in the United States for almost thirty years. This authoritative new translation corrects many errors and omissions and has been supplemented with a foreword by Ursula K. Le Guin and a new afterword by Boris Strugatsky explaining the strange history of the novel’s publication in Russia.
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky are the most famous and popular Russian writers of science fiction, and the authors of over 25 novels and novellas. Their books have been widely translated and have been made into a number of films. Arkady Strugatsky died in 1991. Boris Strugatsky died in November 2012. Ursula K. Le Guin is the author of A Wizard of Earthsea, The Left Hand of Darkness, and other science-fiction classics.