Redrick (Red) Schuhart
Redrick (Red) Schuhart, the protagonist, a daring, competent, and roguish “stalker” from the Visitation town of Harmont. He is nicknamed “Red” because of his bright red hair. A laboratory assistant at the Harmont Institute for Extraterrestrial Cultures at the age of twenty-three, with time he deals more and more in illegal Visitation Zone contraband. By the age of twenty-eight, he has only his illegal career. He remains insatiable in his desire to face the hidden terrors of the Zone and to find value (both material and spiritual) among the alien remains, despite being imprisoned twice for illegal activities and despite many brushes with death. He frequents the Borscht, a stalker bar, where he finds oblivion in drink. He is contemptuous of priggish authority, talkative greenhorns, and stalkers who break the code. He is hot-tempered but can be calm and cool when necessary. He has quick reflexes, a basic instinct for survival, and a knowledge of the peculiarities of the Zone that comes only from experience, but he is always a physical wreck after his excursions there. A loner who talks tough and acts tough, he has a soft heart for friends and family; beneath his protective shell and surface hate is a deep-seated, though intermittent, humanism. After sacrificing his companion to his quest, he requests from the hard-earned magical Golden Ball “Happiness for everybody, free, and no one will go away unsatisfied.”
Buzzard Burbridge, an infamous, avaricious old stalker, a survivor known for his desertion of companions in trouble. Schuhart rightly calls him “a rat.” He is a wife-beater and a sadist. Buzzard loses his legs on one trip (they melt) and thereafter tries to bribe Schuhart (who brought him back alive) into going after a booby-trapped Golden Ball, reputedly an Aladdin’s lamp that will grant any truly wanted wish. His only redeeming quality is his love for his two handsome...
(The entire section is 811 words.)