Archive for the ‘Arkady Strugatsky’ Category


S3E6B – Roadside Picnic (book)*


“Roadside Picnic” took a surreal concept, wrote about it in Russian, translated it into English, and eventually into its highest form, became the subject of this month’s podcast.

As I write this I feel that the book is calling to me, daring me to reread it. I gave it a paltry three stars, but that was only because it was overly complex. Sort of like a Radiohead album. It’s the sort of thing you need to read a couple times to appreciate because it is so dense and rich.

We all enjoyed it. And we did not interpret the book in the same way, yet we all agreed that it was a masterful work. It was dark, enchanting, foreboding, horrible, and mysterious.  It evoked different emotions in all of us and led to a decent debate about the actions and intentions of the characters. Ultimately the overall theme of the book struck me as a statement about the profound meaningless of our lives, whereas Ryan gleaned something completely different. Ryan also rated the book as a five star read, his second time doing so in three years.

Of all the books discussed on our podcast to date, none have sparked such a pleasant disagreement. We had a general accord that this book was somewhere beyond the brink of acceptable genius. It was an unexpected gift that we devoured hungrily. And we still want more. Worth tuning in for and worth reading. So until next time, spit out your gum and rub it on your bum, cause there is no deodorant in outer space!



Ryan: 5 Stars “…A moody morass rallying against the gray walls of reality, in perfect tone…

Wilk: 4 Stars “…Excellent surreal journey into the heart of Russia’s most celebrated science fiction writers minds…

Rick: 4 1/2 Stars “…Very streetwise which is uncommon in this genre…


(Click the links to read full written reviews on


This book was originally written in Russian, and took about eight years to publish under the communist system in place at the time due in part to censorship issues.  An English language version came out in the United States in 1977.  However, it wasn’t until 1991 that the author-endorsed original version came out in the Russian language.

In 2012, another version was released with a new translation by Olena Bormashenko (in part, correcting some issues in the previous translation). This newer version also contains a forward by author Ursula K. LeGuin (but watch out for some spoileresque language) and an afterward by Boris Strugatsky about the censorship issues the book suffered. Here’s an article by Annalee Newitz at iO9 praising the newer version: “A New Translation of The One Russian Science Fiction Novel You Absolutely Must Read.”


* DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that the views and opinions of the hosts and guests of NDIOS are completely their own and do not necessarily reflect the views and beliefs of the other hosts and guests or that of NDIOS.


S3E6P – Preview Episode (Roadside Picnic)*


Book: “Roadside Picnic (1972)” by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

“Amazing. . . . The Strugatskys’ deft and supple handling of loyalty and greed, of friendship and love, of despair and frustration and loneliness [produces] a truly superb tale. . . . You won’t forget it -Theodore Sturgeon Red Schuhart is a stalker, one of those young rebels who are compelled, in spite of the extreme danger, to venture illegally into the Zone to collect the mysterious artifacts that the alien visitors left scattered around. But when he and his friend Kirill go into the Zone together to pick up a “full empty” something goes terribly wrong. . . . First published in 1972 and immediately acclaimed as a science-fiction classic, Roadside Picnic is included on almost every list of the hundred greatest science-fiction novels, despite the fact that it has been out of print in the United States for almost thirty years. It was the basis for Andrei Tarkovsky’s filmic masterpiece Stalker and the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. video games that have proven immensely popular. This brand new translation corrects many of the errors and omissions of the previous one. Finally, one of the greatest science fiction novels-and one of the most popular pieces of Russian fiction-is back in print in an authoritative version. Arkady and Boris Strugatsky are the most famous and popular Russian writers of science fiction. Their books have been widely translated and have been made into a number of films. Arkady died in 1991; Boris lives in St. Petersburg.” (from

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Film: “Stalker (1979)” by Andrei Tarkovsky (Alexander Kaidanovsky)

“One of Andrei Tarkovsky(Solaris, The Sacrifice) most acclaimed films, Stalker is an unforgettable film experience that evokes the spiritual lucidity of Carl Dreyer and the unbridled imagination of Philip K. Dick. Since its release in 1979, Stalker has inspired filmmakers as diverse as David Lynch and Steven Spielberg and ensnared audiences in a labyrinth of striking imagery revealing the familiar in the strange, the poetic in the disturbing and the mythic in the mordant. In the near future, an unseen alien force has taken possession of an area of Russian wilderness that authorities, have dubbed The Zone. The only thing known for sure about the region is that few who enter it ever return. Led by a Stalker one of a small group of outlaws able to safely navigate the Zone, a renegade scientist and a cynical, burnt out writer penetrate the dangers outside in search of the power and transcendence rumored to exist inside. The Stalker longs to un-do a mysterious physical transformation the Zone has performed on his young daughter. The scientist will risk anything to see that reason triumphs over faith. The writer seeks a germ of inspiration that the crumbling and corrupt world beyond the Zone no longer provides. Together, these three men become desperate pilgrims walking a desolate trail leading to one of the most enigmatic and tantalizing endings in the history of cinema. A haunting and honest meditation on the intersections of science, feeling, and faith.Stalker is both profoundly unsettling and deeply moving.” (from

* DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that the views and opinions of the hosts and guests of NDIOS are completely their own and do not necessarily reflect the views and beliefs of the other hosts and guests or that of NDIOS.