Red Schuhart is a stalker, one of those strange misfits who are compelled by some unknown force to venture illegally into the Zone and, in spite of the extreme danger, collect the mysterious artefacts that the alien visitors left scattered around. His life is dominated by the Zone and the thriving black market in the alien products. Even the nature of his daughter has been determined by the Zone. And it is for her that Red makes his last, tragic foray into the hazardous and hostile depths.
Since its 1972 appearance in Russia, the Strugatsky brothers novel has been published worldwide, inspired Andrei Tarkovsky s memorable film Stalker, and been the basis for the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. video games. As this vivid new translation demonstrates, it also remains a powerful study of human behavior in the presence of superhuman power. The action takes place in and near a Visit Zone, one of six areas suddenly scattered with incomprehensible artifacts and disturbing phenomena; one baffled scientist ruefully suggests that aliens visited Earth like careless tourists and dumped their trash here. While cautious people keep their distance, furtive explorers called stalkers enter the Zones to retrieve objects that are wonderful but unpredictably deadly. Over-lapping narratives show stalker Red Schuhart s struggle to master the Zone s inexplicable treasures and terrors. Boris Strugatsky s afterword describes how uneasy the manuscript made myopic Soviet bureaucrats; it has survived triumphantly as a classic because it expresses humanity s inarticulate rage and wonder at life s frustrations and promises.