Arkadii (Natanovich) Strugatskii URSULA K. Le GUIN - Essay

URSULA K. Le GUIN

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Roadside Picnic is a "first contact" story with a difference. Aliens have visited the earth and gone away again, leaving behind them several landing areas (now called The Zones) littered with their refuse. The picnickers have gone; the packrats, wary but curious, approach the crumpled bits of cellophane, the glittering fliptops from beercans, and try to carry them home to their holes …

Some of the mystifying and dangerous debris proves useful—eternal batteries which power automobiles—but the scientists never know if they are using the devices for their proper purpose, or employing (as it were) Geiger counters as hand-axes and electronic components as nose-rings. They cannot figure out...

(The entire section is 666 words.)