Book review: Roadside Picnic
Book title: Roadside Picnic
Author: Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
Book genre: Sci-fi
Finish date: 10 July 2017
Before going into the review, I want to tell you how I cam across this story… I came across a PC game called S.T.A.L.K.E.R Shadow of Chernobyl (Steam, GOG, Wikipedia)… I owned the game DVD since 2008 but only was able to play in in 2014…
When I finished this game I felt some sort of a bond to it… Everything about this game was awesome (not talking about bugs…). So I started reading more about it and how it was made. I came to know that this was loosely based on the novel Roadside Picnic. And that was the point where I put this novel on my list, to finally read it and complete it on 10th of July!
I don’t know the date when the events took place.. But because the story was published in early 1970’s I can assume it is in that era… The authors did not mention anything about the date of the technology that is ued in the story and by the characters…
The events happen in a small town that from of what I understood from the story events not much of its original residents left, and new comers are swarming in from many locations… There were small signs of mystery and unknown every now and then while reading through.
The super-natural effects that have been left over by the visits in the zones makes you wonder deep about what caused them and how they work, only to get few answers to those questions when you reach the end of the novel. That made me still thinking about it and wanting to know the answers… That means I go in my own imagination with the events after the story!
The primary characters in the novel are all different in personalities and in objectives! Only one common thing between them all which is the Zone. Everyone of them has his own story with The Zone… And everyone of them has his own objectives and goal… As well as pain.
The primary character in the novel is Redrick. The authors with their great way makes you realize the good in this man and how he only cares about giving his wife and daughter a good life. However because of his connection to The Zone, he is unable to break free!
The characters has relationship with old dead people as well who were stalkers like them… We see them mentioned from time to time to either remember the lessons they taught to the alive ones, or to mourn them…
I will talk again about Red because he is the main character and to me, the most emotional one! I felt sad for him and for his daughter and wife. He is a good man. He only seem to realise part of that before the end of the story, when he was running to the wish granter! I only wish we saw the happy ending for his family… But I believe the authors left that to us to imagine and live through it.
The story is divided into four sections… They are connected but every section has different events than the other. I liked this way of dividing the story. It made sure I never get bored or wanting to finish a section quickly. All the sections takes us to The Zone. But the events are different. Although the events are also different, they are all hover around the artifacts and abnormal findings in The Zone.
One of the sections gives us many answers to what The Zone is and how did it come to existence… Roadside Picnic is the title of this novel, and also it is how The Zone, the events, and the story of the people around it was founded and developed.
The authors explained to us, by one of the characters that the visits to us, like we were on a roadside picnic and found a spot to stop in it. Our activities and our party went unnoticed and we did not notice the residents around us. Those residents being animals and bugs, were all hiding because of our existence, but when we left, they all came out and started collecting our trash and junk.
To me there is a meaning beyond a story in Roadside Picnic… There is something I still to discover between the words, characters, events, and lines of this great story. It has a real life meaning and lesson that the two authors were trying to teach us. Some of these lessons are about greed (shown in the lust for collections of The Zone), treachery, honor, and love (shown in Red and his love and care to his family)…
I loved the novel! It is awesome and it has something unique that sets it aside from other novels… It puts you right into the atmosphere. I felt the characters’ thoughts, and I felt their feelings and I felt very bad for Red and his wife and daughter… I knew this guy has some good in him and I know he will do anything to give his family a good life. His daughter should have got a better life 🙁
The way the authors go inside a character’s head and thought in many places in the novel is just awesome! It shows the good and the bad of each character, and it shows the struggle they are living everyday to stay safe and to keep the ones they love safe…
As for the general atmosphere of the story I felt some sadness in the people and I felt some hope for a better future in everyone’s thought and word.
I would tell everyone who is into sci-fi to check this one out! This is one of the greatest novels I read! I will read it again as I mentioned, because I feel and believe there are some – or many – meanings that need to be discovered in this novel!
The use of Roadside Picnic book cover is only for the sole purpose of identifying the book and illustration. The cover image is owned by its owners and I have no ownership over it