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Home News by Category Infinite Jest PopMatters - The Collision of 'Roadside Picnic' and 'Infinite Jest'

PopMatters - The Collision of 'Roadside Picnic' and 'Infinite Jest'

Gareth Watkins' article for PopMatters doesn't convince me at all, The Collision of 'Roadside Picnic' and 'Infinite Jest'. Here's a taster:
A device exists that can give you what you have always wanted. The basic and most primal need at the heart of who you are can be fulfilled—everything can be good forever. That, or it can destroy all life at its most fundamental level. The device is at the heart of a deadly and forbidden zone, and everyone who has tried to use it has died horribly.

This is, more or less, the plot of a best-seller that Time called one of the 100 best books since 1923, written by a recipient of the MacArthur ‘genius’ grant and one of the most challenging and polarizing novelists of his generation. Or, it is (again more or less) the synopsis of a relatively obscure Russian science-fiction novel which would have sunk in to obscurity had it not been adapted for the screen by a visionary film-maker and served as the inspiration for an acclaimed video game franchise. There are enough similarities between David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest and Boris and Arkaday Strugatsky’s Roadside Picnic that it is a safe bet that the former had read the latter and incorporated it in to his work, but making a crucial change that allows Infinite Jest’s moral and even spiritual message to be better understood.
Um...  no? I don't think it's a safe bet. And out of interest I checked the archive and Roadside Picnic isn't in Wallace's library either.
Last Updated on Friday, 30 September 2011 08:23  

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