140 Words (or Less) Book Review
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
Penned by two brothers in Soviet Russia in the 1970’s, it is ostensibly a novel about first contact with aliens, except no contact with aliens is ever made. The Visitors, whom no one in the book ever describe seeing, came, went, and didn’t bother picking up after themselves.
Redrick Shuhart is a prospector who grew up in one of the pre-Visitation Zone and now makes his living by (mostly) illegal salvage of mysterious alien artifacts. Red, as Ursula K LeGuin notes, is an ordinary man. Through him we get to see the grinding tedium of life in an era where human understanding of science is woefully insufficient.
No analysis of Soviet politics here, just a nice clean, bleak look at how little humanity really knows of the universe and itself.
Should You Bother: Yes, and while you’re at it find the 1979 Andrei Tarkovsky filmad aptation Stalker whose screenplay was written by the Strugatsky brothers.