Roadside Picnic

Roadside Picnic
By Arkady and Boris Strugatsky (translated by Olena Bormashenko)

roadsidepicnicIn her review of the first English translation of Roadside Picnic (in 1977), Ursula K. Le Guin thought the setting was “perhaps Canada.” The location is actually unspecified, aside from the fact that it is not Russia (because “in Russia they’ve never even heard of stalkers”). What this means is that Harmont is, in fact, somewhere in Russia. Or at least the Soviet Union. The locals are police, bureaucrats, or underworld figures, while the Zone is a blighted rust belt, a polluted wasteland filled with post-industrial wreckage.

SF comes in different cultural flavours. The alien visitors here are unknowable gods, their ways mysterious beyond human understanding. An unbridgeable gap divides them from us. Red Schuhart, meanwhile, carries the revolutionary banner for humanity, charging the barricade while roaring about liberty, fraternity, and equality. No, we’re not in Canada.

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