The Strugatsky Brothers’ science fiction mastery meets David McKean’s phenomenal artistic talent in this new Folio limited edition. Introduced and signed by the artist, and limited to just 600 copies, this is a stunning issue of Roadside Picnic.
‘Brilliantly and beautifully written . . . a truly superb work of science fiction.’
Years after the aliens have been and gone, six landing sites, or Zones, around the world still contain the mysterious remnants of the visitation. Toxic wastelands of unimaginable terror, they hold dangerous artefacts and silvery threads of death that compel the straight-talking stalker, Redrick Shuhart, to keep coming back, his life dominated by the black-market trade in alien products. First published in 1972 from behind the Iron Curtain, the Strugatsky Brothers’ Roadside Picnic became a globally revered sci-fi classic and inspired the Andrei Tarkovsky film Stalker.
Award-winning illustrator Dave McKean describes the creative process in his exclusive new introduction: ‘Visualizing this place is in some ways like trying to bottle magnetism.’ Incredibly, this is precisely what McKean has achieved: from subtle nods to 1970s graphics and unnerving topographical renderings, to the arresting painterly illustrations of terrifying visits into the Zone, McKean’s arresting artwork is a startling vision of a bleak world.
Limited to just 600 hand-numbered copies, each signed by Dave McKean, this ultimate edition is a tribute to the Strugatskys’ masterpiece. Also included is an exclusive original print (created by McKean using elements from AI generated illustrations) and four prints with designs by the artist, as well as a spectacular lenticular slipcase that creates a mind-bending optical illusion as the book is removed, recalling the shimmering air of the Zone.
240 pages printed in dark green ink with integrated illustrations
7 double-page spread colour illustrations, including one double-sided fold-out
Cold-foiled and printed endpapers
Digitally printed page edges
Blocked cloth slipcase with a printed lenticular panel in a die-cut shape
Folder with separate print, 4 prints of cover and slipcase designs from the unnumbered edition, and numbered limitation page signed by the artist
10˝ x 6¼˝
Illustrating the Strugatsky brothers’ work was a lifetime ambition for award-winning illustrator Dave McKean. ‘I first visited the Zone in art school. Before then, I didn’t feel the warp of time and reality that art can achieve […] my childhood kicks were all sitting on the surface of normality.’ McKean’s love for the novel is obvious, as he draws the reader into the strange topography of the Zones and their enigmatic artefacts. Seven double-page illustrations, including a double-sided fold-out, reveal his startling vision, and the design on the foil-printed endpapers is a beguiling interpretation of the mythical Golden Sphere – a recurring obsession in this dystopian tale. McKean’s exclusive new introduction contextualises his artwork: ‘I’m not surprised Roadside Picnic and the film it seeded, Stalker, have become talismanic artifacts for some of us, some seekers, psychogeographers, and creators. It crystalizes the creative act, of visiting a place where the laws of physics and rationality are unreliable.’
‘The picnickers have gone; the pack rats, wary but curious, approach the crumpled bits of cellophane, the glittering pull tabs from beer cans, and try to carry them home to their holes.’
Ursula K. Le Guin
A mind-bending, hugely influential cult classic, Roadside Picnic is a unique take on a ‘first contact’ story. Featuring Ursula K. Le Guin’s compelling 2012 foreword and a fascinating new introduction by illustrator Dave McKean, this incredible limited edition cements the book’s cult status. Boris Strugatsky’s afterword provides an insight into the novel’s complicated censorship history, defending ‘vulgarisms and slang expressions’, and reveals how lucky we are that this original version remains intact. A stark exploration of a potential post-capitalist society and a hard-eyed look at our place in the universe, it’s as relevant today as when first published.
Arkady (1925–91) and Boris (1933–2012) Strugatsky were brothers who wrote some of the most highly acclaimed science fiction published in the Soviet Union. Arkady studied foreign languages and worked as a writer, editor and translator; Boris was an astronomer based near Leningrad before taking up writing full-time. Much of the brothers’ socially critical science fiction is set in the ‘Noon Universe’, a utopia in which communism has been victorious. It was steadily translated into English from the 1970s but the Strugatsky brothers are especially renowned in several Eastern European countries. Their works have often been adapted for film and TV, most notably Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, based on Roadside Picnic.
Dave McKean has released 60 books as an illustrator, author, photographer and designer, including Cages (1990–6, winner of two Harvey Awards, the Ignatz Award, La Pantera Award, and the Alph-Art Award), Pictures That Tick (2009, V&A Illustrated Book of the Year), and Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash (2016, a 14–18 NOW Foundation/Imperial War Museum/LICAF commission). He has collaborated with Neil Gaiman (Sandman, 1989–97; Coraline, 2002), John Cale (What’s Welsh for Zen, 1998; Sedition and Alchemy, 2003), David Almond (The Savage, 2008), Richard Dawkins (The Magic of Reality, 2011), Heston Blumenthal (as Director of Story at The Fat Duck), and others. He has worked in theatre, galleries, and the music industry, and has written and directed three feature films: MirrorMask (2005), The Gospel of Us (2012, winner of two Cymru BAFTAs), and Luna (2014, winner of the Raindance Award for Best Picture, BIFA). For the Folio Society he has illustrated Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (2017), Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend(2018) and Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast (2022).
Olena Bormashenko was born in Ukraine and moved to Canada as a child in the 1990s. She has a PhD in mathematics from Stanford University and has worked a lecturer at the University of Texas Austin. As well as Roadside Picnic she has translated the Strugatskys’ Hard to Be a God into English.
Lose yourself in the gothic majesty of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy presented in this truly visionary edition from Folio. Introduced by master of modern fantasy Neil Gaiman, illustrated by the extraordinary Dave McKean and signed by both contributors, this is a startlingly original take on a cornerstone of speculative fiction.