Roadside Picnic

Arkady Strugatsky + Boris Strugatsky

translated from the Russian by Antonina W. Bouis
Penguin 1979

World's End

Joan D. Vinge

Tom Doherty 1984
A book review by Danny Yee © 1994
Roadside Picnic is the novel on which Tarkovsky's film Stalker was based. Aliens have visited the Earth, leaving behind the Zones, places of immense danger where incomprehensible technological wonders can be found. A frontier culture has developed around these areas, where "stalkers" risk their lives in illegal expeditions to extract items. The result is a powerful but understated portrayal of mankind facing the unknown.

World's End, a sequel to the Hugo award winning The Snow Queen, has an very similar setting. World's End is a localised area where ordinary physics is warped and reality is somewhat unstable, and where down-at-heel adventurers try to make their fortune prospecting. In this case the plot is rather different, with the focus on the individual quest of the protagonist to find himself and an ongoing plot rather than the broader view of the Strugatskys. Whether Vinge copied from the Strugatskys' novel is not clear, but Roadside Picnic is, in my opinion, by far the better novel.

June 1994

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Related reviews:
- Arkady Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky - Definitely Maybe
- more Russian literature
- more science fiction
- books published by Tom Doherty
%T Roadside Picnic
%A Strugatsky, Arkady
%A Strugatsky, Boris
%M Russian
%F Bouis, Antonina W.
%I Penguin
%D 1979
%O paperback
%G ISBN 014005135X
%P 160pp

%T World's End
%A Vinge, Joan D.
%I Tom Doherty
%D 1984
%O paperback
%G ISBN 0812523687
%P 284pp