It’s clear very early on what a huge influence this book had on [a:Tarkovsky|16014|Andrei Tarkovsky|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1217349397p2/16014.jpg]. I couldn’t get that quote from Solaris out my head: “We don’t need other worlds, we need mirrors.” In some of the dialogue, I kept expecting it to be the next sentence. Here we see a world of stalkers and scientists alike trying to make sense of the Zone, living their lives around it, investigating, obsessing, profiting, and succumbing to it, but never truly making sense of it.
I suppose one regret is that I can’t read it with Tarkovsky’s eyes. While [a:Stanisław Lem|10991|Stanisław Lem|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1246185166p2/10991.jpg] didn’t like Tarkovsky’s Solaris
, it explored arguments and concepts that I never thought were in the original novel. Similarly, how Roadside Picnic becomes Stalker
is beyond me, but in this case the development is at least a little clearer. The story skims the surface of the world’s evident depth, and characters speak to each other very plainly about the world they live in, and the reader is always kept somewhat out of this discussion- decades of life are skipped when characters are revisited, and all that has passed in the interstitial years is for us to deduce. For this carefully-tuned permeating mystery and the timelessness of the main message, the book has endured. We don’t need other worlds, we need mirrors, and ours is the only world we have.
Highly recommended for those who enjoy that flavour of deep redemptive tragedy that only something which is very, very Russian can provide.