30 Dec 2022


Concerns over New Technology in the Roadside Picnic

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The book is about science fiction, and it addresses the facts of the events that took place decades after aliens had visited the universe. The visitors, aliens, moved in and out of their landing sites, which the book refers to as the Zones, and this was without anyone seeing them or their vehicles. The residents saw these Zones, spread across the earth in places that had been visited by the aliens, as well as the odd objects that they left behind. The Zones were unsafe and occupied with strange traps, as well as deadly monsters, but still, adventurers, who were also referred to as stalkers, sneaked into the areas to illegally collect artifacts which they later sell. 

The Strugatskys narrate the life of stalkers and the people who deal with the bizarre artifacts that were left behind in the universe after what was an otherwise mysterious visit by the aliens in question. Moreover, the author portrays the technology that was left behind in the dangerous Zones as very dangerous, though they are important and valuable to the adventurers like Redrick Schuhart who collected them for study but later illegally sold them to the black market. 

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The Roadside Picnic tempted me to believe that the novel did a great job of enhancing the notion that the visit by the aliens was not good for humanity, but rather, the visitation brought with it dangerous forms of technology that caused more harm than good to the human race( Strugatsky & Strugatsky, 2016). Science fiction has a general trope that human beings are desperately searching for answers to their problems in the society. As such, they tend to rely on the strange technologies whose origins they are not aware of or familiar with and for this reason, they may be dangerous to their very existence. The technology that is been brought on earth as a result of the visitation by the alien community worsens the people’s problems, and this is in comparison to the benefits that come with this very visitation. In as much as it brings endless energy, there are lots of squabbles, regarding the individuals who have the right to benefit from the artifacts that are extracted from the Zones, which can also be referred to as the industrial landscape. The scenarios in which the human species fight for the right to use some of the technologies that were mysteriously placed in sites ended up increasing. 

I realize through Redrick Schuhart that the Zones; in essential the sites at which the aliens landed, profoundly changed formerly recognizable physics laws, and rendered the regions uninhabitable (Strugatsky & Strugatsky, 2016). The strange physical incidents, as well as the alien plant life that grew in the Zones, could possibly kill or maim the adventurers. Even though the value of the artifacts tempted the stalkers to creep into the Zones in order for them to collect them, their lives gradually fell apart due to the prolonged periods of associating with the artifacts, whose negative effects were not well known to them. For instance, Redrick is portrayed at the end of the novel as a shell of his previous self because of his prolonged activities in the Zones. Additionally, his former workmates were also adversely affected, and they showed similar strains and symptoms such as the ones Redrick had. However, symptoms also came from other various sources such as working with the excessively restraining Institute’s bureaucracy. 

The regular visits at the Zones, as well as the encounter with the technology, were more vicious to almost all the individuals who lived within the proximity of the sites. The dangers of the Zones to the human species are illustrated by Redrick whose genome was changed because of his frequent contact with the physical phenomenon in the zones. On the other hand, other explorers of the Zones have also died. It was also claimed that the individuals who were in the Zones when the aliens visited, either demised horribly, abruptly perished years after the visitation, or have changed to creatures that are no longer humans. Strugatsky and Strugatsky (2016) also pinpoint the humanity’s inability to comprehend the technology left behind by the aliens as well as the weird occurrences in the Zones. The information that the book reveals seem to be useless since no one has context to support their research, including the authors. Nobody knows whether the artifacts are presently being used appropriately as were used by the aliens. The title of the book is a reference to a parable that is provided by the authors to describe a scenario of misusing the artifacts. For instance, a group of student’s stops by the road for a picnic, and during that period they leave all kinds of debris and litter at the place they stayed. After they leave, ants cloud the picnic place, hunting for food. The ants will not be aware of the useful and the dangerous debris and litters that they carry to their nest until they use them. Such an example is a similar case to the one that the authors write about in the Roadside Picnic. 

It is imperative to note that the book, through its authors, questions the significance of meeting an advanced creature, in respect to the human race. Conversely, the narrative by Strugatsky and Strugatsky (2016) fails to provide the traditional standard answer of “yes” that science fictional works always give, but they dwell on the perspective associated the idea that it is not a good for humanity to meet an advanced creatures. Additionally, they belabor on the fact that regions that advanced creatures occupy before they mysteriously vanish can harbor very dangerous technologies that could kill or maim the residents. An advanced creature or species may bring technologies that may prove to be destructive to humans’ habitat as well as the humans themselves. The book also proves that answers by extraterrestrials cannot be solutions to fixing social hurdles that human beings go through. 

The Roadside Picnic can also be used to analyze the events that took place in the Soviet world of the 1970s. The government of the Soviets gradually created a structural economy that didn’t do quite well because it concentrated its efforts mainly on the industrial-military sector (World Heritage Encyclopedia, n.d). This economy precipitated the growth of a black market that could not be controlled, especially by the rigid policy making at every government level. Such trends can also be observed in the novel, for it portrays some of the hurdles that did result from institutions within the book. For instance, the explorers are hardly paid their wages by the Institute. Additionally, the Institute’s excessively bureaucratic processes focus on the punishment of lawbreakers whilst at the same time, ignoring the root of the problems that arise due to smuggling. As such, the likes of Redrick, smuggle their collections from the Zones into the black markets because they needed to pay their bills, since the Institute poorly paid them. 

In conclusion, Roadside Picnic is a book that portrays the dangers that the human race is exposed to due to the mysterious artifacts that were left behind by an alien visitation. Such dangers range from the maiming to the killing of people who frequently exposed their bodies to the sites as they looked to collect artifacts for selling in the black market in order to earn a living. The book also pinpoints humanity’s inability to comprehend the technologies left behind by the aliens, or even relate to the weird occurrences in the Zones. 


Strugatsky , A., & Strugatsky , B. (2016). Roadside Picnic. Cryptomyoist Editions. 

World Heritage Encyclopedia . (n.d) . Roadside Picnic: Stalker (1979 film), Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Deneb in Fiction, The Ugly Swans, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernoby. Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia. 

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