Monday, February 15, 2016

Just another roadside picnic




In an effort to kickstart this blog again, I recently received a copy of Roadside Picnic, which inspired Tarkovsky's Stalker.  I saw the movie years ago, and quite frankly couldn't make heads or tails of it, so am hoping that the book will help me put together some of the pieces before doing another viewing.  It was interesting to read that I wasn't the only one interested in the classic Soviet sci-fi novel.  WGN bought the screen rights to it and is planning a television series based on the novel.   A video game has also been designed around the theme.

Neither of the Strugatsky Brothers are with us anymore, but for decades they were kind of like the Coen Brothers of Soviet science fiction, turning out a great number of novels in the genre dating back to 1958.  They were mostly collaborative efforts, but there were a few solo novels as well, with Boris penning the last work in 2003.

Soviet sci-fi is what propels Victor Pelevin, one of my favorite writers, although he fuses it with contemporary thoughts and observations as was the case in Generation π, or Babylon as it has been retitled in English.

There's quite a  bit of Soviet and Russian science fiction translated into English.  Here's a sampling. Yevgeny Zamyatin is the most well known writer on the list.  We was the basis for another Tarkovsky movie, Solaris, which was also adapted into an American film.

It was more the existential aspect than the science fiction element that attracted Tarkovsky to these novels.  In Stalker, you get more a post-Apocalyptic feeling in which everything has been reduced to ruins and persons are left to interpret what it all means.  I gather the Strugatsky Brothers were more upfront in their novel, so very curious to read what it meant in their minds.

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