REVIEW SUMMARY: A “slow invasion” story that reads quickly, but moves slowly.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A group of aliens stranded on Earth impact the small seaside town of Thatcham.
PROS: Interesting premise; quick-moving, to-the-point prose; reminds us that alien invasion stories don’t have to be stitched-together action sequences; wonderfully creepy final act.
CONS: Takes a while before the really good stuff happens, then it’s over; characters acting inconsistently or illogically.
BOTTOM LINE: A bit of a misfire from a talented writer.
When science fiction fans think of alien invasion, they tend think of the action-filled special effects spectacles shown in film. In literature, invasions are often meatier, usually offering a more personal look at the impact of our alien foes. The depiction is more complicated when the invasion is more subtle, like this one depicted by David Moody.
REVIEW SUMMARY: A fantastic, character-driven story of alien contact.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Years after Earth is visited by an alien presence, individuals known as Stalkers move in and out of the Zones to illegally collect artifacts left behind. Red Schuhart is one of these Stalkers, and encounters many strange things over his years of collecting.
PROS: Fantastic and plausible conceptualization of the nature of alien contact, with vividly drawn characters.
CONS: Pacing wasn’t to my liking.
BOTTOM LINE: A brilliant, thought-provoking novel.
I’ll confess that I’d never heard of Roadside Picnic before it was re-released recently by the Chicago Review Press earlier this year. This new edition is the preferred text, following a dramatic history with Soviet censors when it was first published in the 1970s. This edition has a particularly good introduction by Ursula K. LeGuin. Continue reading