Arkady and boris strugatsky — roadside picnic
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. Roadside Picnic
(‘) Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
(‘) Translated from Russian by Antonina W. Bouis
(‘) MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc, New York
Arkadij i Boris Strugackie "Piknik na obochine"
You have to make the good out of the bad because that is all you have
got to make it out of. * Robert Penn Warren
FROM AN INTERVIEW BY A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT FROM HARMONT RADIO WITH
DOCTOR VALENTINE PILMAN, RECIPIENT OF THE NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSICS FOR 19..
"I suppose that your first serious discovery, Dr. Pilman, should be
considered what is now called the Pilman Radiant?"
"I don't think so. The Pilman Radiant wasn't the first, nor was it
serious, nor was it really a discovery. And it wasn't completely mine,
"Surely you're joking, doctor. The Pilman Radiant is a concept known to
"That doesn't surprise me. According to some sources, the Pilman
Radiant was discovered by a schoolboy. Unfortunately, I don't re member his
name. Look it up in Stetson's History of the Visitation — it's described in
full detail there. His version is that the radiant was discovered by a
schoolboy, that a college student published the coordinates, but that for
some unknown reason it was named after me."
"Yes, many amazing things can happen with a discovery. Would you mind
explaining it to our listeners, Dr. Pilman?"
"The Pilman Radiant is simplicity itself. Imagine that you spin a huge
globe and you start firing bullets into it. The bullet holes would lie on
the surface in a smooth curve. The whole point of what you call my first
serious discovery lies in the simple fact that all six Visitation Zones are
situated on the surface of our planet as though someone had taken six shots
at Earth from a pistol located somewhere along the Earth-Deneb line. Deneb
is the alpha star in Cygnus. The Point in the heavens from which, so to
speak, the shots came is the Pilman Radiant."
"Thank you, doctor. My fellow Harmonites! Finally we have heard a clear
explanation of the Pilman Radiant! By the way, the day before yesterday was
the thirtieth anniversary of the Visitation. Dr Pilman, would you care to
say a few words to Your fellow townsmen on the subject?"
"What in particular interests you? Remember, I wasn't in Harmont at the
"That makes it even more interesting to hear what you felt when your
hometown became the site of an Invasion from a supercivilization from
"To tell the truth, I first thought it was a hoax. It was hard to
imagine that anything like that could possibly happen In our little Harmont.
Gobi or Newfoundland seemed more likely than Harmont."
"Nevertheless, you finally had to believe it."
"Finally — yes."
"It suddenly occurred to me that Harmont and the other five Visitation
Zones — sorry, my mistake, there were only four other sites known at the
time-that all of them fit on a very smooth curve. I calculated the
coordinates and sent them to Nature. "
"And you weren't at all concerned with the fate of your hometown?"
"Not really. You see, by then I had come to believe in the Visitation,
but I simply could not force myself to believe the hysterical reports about
burning neighborhoods and monsters that selectively devoured only old men
and children and about bloody battles between the invulnerable invaders and