LE: Roadside Picnic

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LE: Roadside Picnic

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 21, 9:06 am

I see a new LE is up, Roadside Picnic by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky. Art by Dave McKean. Limited to 600, price is US $395. Looks like a regular edition has been issued too.

helmikuu 21, 9:21 am

I've been hoping someone would do this. A bit disappointed that the artist chosen is once again Dave McKean, but at least it looks like he is properly channeling Francis Bacon this time. I'm not seeing a lot that separates the LE from the standard edition however, so I'll probably just go for the latter. Maybe if the LE was letterpress I'd feel different.

Oh, and kudos that the "American gratuity" isn't outrageous this time. The standard edition only has about a $10 difference (an acceptable buffer for exchange rate fluctuations), and the LE only around $40.

helmikuu 21, 9:30 am

I had no idea that Roadside Picnic was the source for Tarkovsky's Stalker. I love that movie (I even read Geoff Dyer's book about it, Zona). The LE is an easy purchase.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 21, 9:38 am

Is the LE book identical to the standard? I can see there is a different slipcase, but the sheet that states the number with a signature appears loose, alongside the prints, so I think the book is the same?

helmikuu 21, 9:43 am

>2 Shadekeep: I can empathize with the general sentiment that they should not keep relying on the same talent (McKean).

That said, I do like really like McKean's work but not so much Neil Gaiman so I welcome a McKean illustrated title that's not paired with Gaiman and/or not obscenely expensive like Gormenghast. I might actually bite on the LE.

helmikuu 21, 9:45 am

>4 DMulvee: LE is bound in cloth, has a different slipcase, endpaper description seems a bit different (cold foil), and the limitation and prints are enclosed separately. The standard is bound in paper, has a plain slipcase, the endpapers are simply described as printed, and no additional sheets with the limitation and artwork.

In the SE you get almost everything you do in the LE, for a fraction of the cost.

I've wondered why Folio Society has started to do both editions at the same time, but realized most other presses do the same with multiple states. They've probably figured there's not a lot of sales being cannibalized by doing both at the same time, compared to the lag of many months we've seen in the past.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 21, 9:49 am

>4 DMulvee: The standard edition has textured paper covers whereas the LE has cloth covers, and there is a slight difference in the description of the endpapers between the two. But yes, by and large the books appear nearly identical.

EDIT: Once again I've simul-posted...

helmikuu 21, 9:50 am

The standard edition might find its way into a future order of mine. But I'm still keeping to my "no LEs" pledge.

helmikuu 21, 9:57 am

>6 What_What: >7 Shadekeep: Thanks! Re-watching the videos I can now see that the covers are different.

helmikuu 21, 10:06 am

The LE doesn't do enough different to interest me, but this is the first new SE title to excite me in a while.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 21, 10:12 am

>8 coynedj: The internals seem to be exactly the same with same illustrations, page-edge print, use of green ink etc. Not sure yet if for me a different cover/slipcase/endpapers & a few prints add £250 of value over the standard £49.95 edition.

helmikuu 21, 10:25 am

>10 ambyrglow: Same here. This is prompting an order from me, and given the cost of shipping to the US, I'll be tossing a few other titles into the cart.

helmikuu 21, 10:55 am

Has there ever been a book where the limitation isn't in the book itself somehow, but on a separate sheet?

helmikuu 21, 10:59 am

>13 What_What: It certainly seems a curious decision to have the limitation page separate from the volume itself. Not sure how much precedent there is for this, but it's an odd choice to me.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 25, 11:56 am

Viestin kirjoittaja on poistanut viestin.

helmikuu 21, 11:39 am

Too bad about the "bound in paper" again (which kept me away from a few titles that I otherwise would have purchased, such as Haunting of Hill House). I will likely get this one in standard edition anyways, on the strength of everything else, but with some heavy side eye.

Seems like a pattern now with a handful of other mid-level LEs (Hill House and Turn of the Screw, at least).

helmikuu 21, 12:23 pm

>13 What_What: Has there ever been a book where the limitation isn't in the book itself somehow, but on a separate sheet?

I know of one - Travels in Arabia Deserta, where the limitation label is in the separately bound map, pasted onto the inside front board.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 21, 5:28 pm

>13 What_What: I think Studies from Nature has a separated limitation sheet

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 21, 12:40 pm

This looks good, I will think on whether to get the L.E. or standard edition. Knowing me I will lose a separate signature sheet, so would have preferred it within the book.
I think Dave McKean’s artwork is a good match for this book.
Filthy Icarus? Who came up with that font name? It sounds like a cocktail, dirty martini anyone?

Edit: oh, it is filth of Icarus, not sounding as much like a cocktail.

helmikuu 21, 12:39 pm

>16 abysswalker: I am also disappointed about another book "bound in paper". I buy FS books to avoid books bound in paper...

helmikuu 21, 12:43 pm

>19 Hamwick: If it's any consolation, I originally read it as "Fifth of Icarus", which does sound like a bartending term.

helmikuu 21, 1:16 pm

>17 bookfair_e: >18 gmacaree: Thank you for the responses!

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 21, 1:20 pm

Holy smokes! This is another book I've been asking for! And Dave McKean is great.
Seems like there will be a lot more bound in paper books for cost cutting (the recent Blood Meridian was paper, while The Road was cloth). That said the small differences with the LE at 6x the cost is a hard sell. Also interesting to see this taking up the new "low end" pricing of 50 gbp (I'd have expected 70) when imo it's one of the better looking editions they have, with a pretty well known artist (the cost cutting paper responsible?).

I'm definitely buying, but will wait until the spring releases for postage reasons. If it's successful, can we get Hard to be a God next? (Looking at the note on Bormashenko it specifies she's also translated said book, interesting)

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 21, 1:33 pm

>23 A.Godhelm: More from the Brothers Strugatsky would indeed be welcome. I would like to see Monday Begins on Saturday, which is a brilliant book.

EDIT: May as well get the LT touchstone for Roadside Picnic added in too.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 21, 1:36 pm

>24 Shadekeep:

Amazing to see somebody else think of ‘Monday…’. One of my absolute favourite books. I’m definitely getting the Picnic

helmikuu 21, 2:06 pm

Did anyone else notice the reference to AI generated illustrations? It would be the first book I know of that uses such artwork. I wonder how much of it is AI generated, I have used the App before and it does generate complete pictures. You would just need to say, Alien encounter, park, in the style of Dave McKean. An interesting inclusion to this book.

helmikuu 21, 2:16 pm

I think it's wonderful that the FS is publishing a book that for a long time has lacked a deserved beautiful edition! That said, I'm at a bit of a loss as to why is the LE is about 6 times the cost of the standard? The lenticular panel is certainly a bit gimmicky, but not in a poor manner. The four prints are okay. The fact that the limitation page is NOT in the book but in the folder seems quite unusual, and slightly off-putting. All-in-all, I think the regular edition of Roadside Picnic looks like a win. As for the LE, I just do not see a justification for such a price, and for the record, I typically love signed editions. Also, as noted by >2 Shadekeep:, really great to see that prices are now close to parity as they should be.

helmikuu 21, 2:17 pm

>26 Hamwick: I am hoping the extent of AI usage is this item mention in the LE:

Also included is an exclusive original print (created by McKean using elements from AI generated illustrations)

Another thing which frankly turned me off the LE.

helmikuu 21, 2:29 pm

>26 Hamwick:

No? Where does it say that?

helmikuu 21, 2:32 pm

>29 adriano77: It's on the description for the LE, just above the Production Details, as it seems isolated to just the extra print included with it:

"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."

helmikuu 21, 2:38 pm

>30 What_What:

Oh, I was looking at the standard.

I wonder which AI he used. Midjourney, Stable Diffusion or something else. MJ is fantastic when it comes to mimicking artists styles in particular. If I ever want to create my own custom illustrated edition for something, I'll definitely be using it. Fun stuff.

helmikuu 21, 2:52 pm

I wonder if FS will throw in a complimentary pritt stick so DIYers can glue/tip in the limitation page themselves.

helmikuu 21, 4:35 pm

They also had not the book, but a print signed with the limited edition of Mort. I find it really irritating, but it seems to sometimes happen with books signed by illustrators. I'd really prefer the signature in the book, though.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 21, 8:04 pm

I own almost every FS limited edition, but this is one I will not purchase as it offers minimal benefits from the standard edition at more than five times the price. If it had been leather bound like A Turn of the Screw, maybe.
The standard edition price is not as inflated for Australians as previous books. It seems to be about £7 more expensive at AU$105 when the retail exchange rate (rather than wholesale) is considered.

helmikuu 21, 6:30 pm

>31 adriano77: I have used midjourney and I agree, it is fun. As the others have said, looks like there is no AI generated pictures in the book, just in one of the separate prints. I think that is probably wise, but I do like the fact they have included one as part of the package.

helmikuu 21, 6:31 pm

>33 SF-72: The limitation was handwritten into the book though? IIRC.

helmikuu 21, 7:36 pm

>34 wcarter: Agreed It seems like the standards for the LEs are creeping down while the prices are creeping up.

helmikuu 21, 9:08 pm

Both versions look nice. I dislike the paper bound volumes and it will probably keep me away from buying, however. (Just like the Jurassic Park books and Hill House)

But I haven't heard of this book before and new Sci-Fi recommendations are always welcome. I will check it out in another format: my library has an ebook copy with the same forword and afterword.

I think this LE will sell out within a month and at least double on the secondary market. The sci-fi titles always gain value.

The free floating limitation page is the only dumb thing about it.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 21, 9:57 pm

Now I'm leaning against the LE.

A lot of the appeal of the LE is the cloth rather than paper cover and the lenticular slip case but really the lenticular slip was done better on Folio's release of Zamyatin's "We". Here you get a shimmer effect and I get the reference to the shimmer in the story, but it doesn't really work as well compared to the lenticular motion effect the designer came up with for We.

So do I want to pay $325 more for a cloth cover and a gimmicky so-so lenticular? Not really. The SE would probably be good enough and the cover of the SE is slightly more appealing design-wise to my eye.

helmikuu 21, 10:22 pm

Standard edition of Roadside Picnic happily ordered. Tossed in The Arabian Nights, plus Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for my partner. Thanks to Tanglewood for the coupon code TNUR5D, knocked another $20 off (see https://www.librarything.com/topic/270715#8057077).

helmikuu 22, 6:05 am

For me, the editions of Roadside Picnic are similar to the editions of Hill House and Turn of the Screw; I don't find enough extras with the LEs to make them worth it. So, going with the SE of this one too...

helmikuu 23, 1:23 am

If they used AI for the print, they used AI for the other illustrations in the book too. They just won't admit it.

Remember when they obfuscated the poor quality leather of the LOTR LE?

Remember price discrimination for US buyers?

You think they are going to grow a moral backbone over AI?

helmikuu 23, 7:06 am

The illustrator himself said on Facebook he only used it for the one image.

helmikuu 23, 7:37 am

My problem with AI artwork is that it's not AI in the way some people may be thinking. No one has sat there and meticulously taught a program "this is a human face, here are the various ways it can be drawn, here's how you do shading and light and tone...". They've merely tagged a vast pool of raw material and let the algorithm look for patterns of commonality ("80% of faces supplied are peach-colored oval regions with darker regions here and here"), and then apply those with randomisation. The program knows literally nothing about what it is generating, it's just Clever Hans.

This aspect alone I don't object to, it's kind of fun. What I object to is that in order to train up these purported AIs, tons of content is scraped and used without attribution or compensation. This is the way of the web, unfortunately, but stealing the work of artists and writers just to make a fortune yourself with an algorithm is neither just nor moral, and I won't participate in it.

helmikuu 23, 8:00 am

McKean has enough original work that it would be possible for him to use his own name for a keyword in an AI creation that references his past work and recreates his style. Then he can select the versions that he feels are most like something he would have done anyway.

Would that still be a problem for the anti-AI art crowd? He's not exactly ripping off someone else's work, only remixing his own.

helmikuu 23, 8:10 am

>45 NoBueno: I'd say that's a proper application of the technology. As I said, I don't object to the tool itself, but rather the wholesale theft of the work of others in order to enrich oneself.

In some ways current AI art is not that different from the collage artform. It's algorithmically doing much of the same work as collage, namely taking original material and splicing and re-arranging it. But it's certainly not being sold to the public as that. I guarantee you that a lot of people think the machine is "painting" with the same intent and vision as a human would. And they aren't being disabused of this notion, because it's in the interest of the techno-hucksters to continue to be thought cleverer than they actually are.

helmikuu 23, 9:12 am

With skill, astonishing things can be done. Take a look at this:


(paywall, but I think you are allowed one article a month)

A couple of caveats - firstly, this is expensive AI, not the stuff you get a free trial of, and secondly it would take a lot of expertise and produce a vast number of reject images on the way to get results of this quality. However, it does give a taste of what is possible. The text of the article is interesting too.

helmikuu 23, 9:57 am

The standard edition is now available from Island Books for £76.

helmikuu 23, 10:35 am

>48 cronshaw: Keenly priced as usual.

helmikuu 23, 11:42 am

Ordered the SE, and threw in Planet of the Apes to justify the postage.
I like both editions, and initially I thought "Oh £295 is pretty good by recent LE standards"... but £295 is still *a lot*. As with the Lovecraft SE/LE, I can't see enough to justify the significant extra cost (and I feel there was more distinction between editions with the Lovecraft).

Still pretty pleased with the SE.

helmikuu 23, 12:11 pm

The design of this one just isn't for me (particularly the spine, which is of course all I'd see most of the time), and I'm not a huge fan of the artwork inside either, so this is a rare LE pass for me. My wallet is mightily relieved.

The plot sounds interesting, though, and it's not a complete bust as I do like the printed page edges, so I might pick up the SE at some point, particularly if it ends up in a sale.

I should note that I'm not complaining. I'd rather FS try innovative designs, even if some of them put me off, than just go for boring and safe every time.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 25, 7:28 pm

>44 Shadekeep: Is there really much of a difference between the process and the outcome? What difference does it make if the application knows it’s drawing a face as opposed to creating all the components of what we call a face?

It’s a bit like saying language isn’t real because it’s just a bunch of random sounds. At least that’s my initial take, but open to having my mind changed.

helmikuu 25, 3:35 pm

>52 What_What: The term "AI" is indeed misapplied to these neural networks, but on the other hand people seem to think they do more "cut and paste" than they actually do. Rather it's a fusion of influences, which treads much closer to human artists than most care to admit (you could certainly get whatever you want painted "in the style of" any artist, and some artists take their "influences" up and over straight plagiarising, all by humans mind). The debate about whether an AI could ever really learn to do anything is a philosophical problem, I recommend reading interpretations of Searle's "Chinese Room" scenario.
When it comes to McKean in particular, he has worked a lot with collages and mixed media - to my mind this is a very logical step for him to explore. Cut up art and repurposing found objects were revolutionary in the art world about a century ago, I'm honestly stunned the beatnik algorithm blenders can garner such outrage.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 26, 1:49 pm

>52 What_What: Without comprehension it's incapable of improvisation. It can only randomise and amalgamate. In that regard it is not an AI, at least not in the Turing sense. It's more along the lines of what they used to call a neural network, or a fancy algorithm that produces output based on patterned input. I've written enough of those myself to know they are completely different from a true learning network.

When you ask one of these AIs to draw a face, it can only work with the existing pool of training data that includes faces. If instead you could "teach" the AI what makes up a face and what the expressions mean, it could in theory produce something original. But as it stands this is not an AI, it's a parlor trick. Again, it's Clever Hans.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 3, 8:54 am

So has anyone received their copy of either the SE or LE and want to do a mini review of your general impressions?

I'm waiting for the Spring 2023 collection to order and am leaning towards the SE but if the LE is somehow more amazing in person and there's nothing calling me in the new collection I might still consider the LE.

maaliskuu 3, 10:29 am

>55 NoBueno: I received my SE on Weds, and I think it is one of their best regular editions of recent times. The detail and consistency of the design throughout - layout, colours, illustrations - creates a striking and distinctive book. The weight and feel of the Abbey Wove Rough paper is particularly pleasing. Overall I find myself comparing it favorably to more expensive SEs I own - Mythical Beasts, Godot, etc.

maaliskuu 3, 10:36 am

>56 ian_curtin: Thanks - that's what I was hoping to hear regarding the inside paper quality.

The only other hesitation I had was over the SE paper cover. I have a few other titles with paper covers that feel really luxurious but a couple of the paper covers felt sort of cheap. Opinion on the feel of the paper on the SE cover?

maaliskuu 3, 11:28 am

>57 NoBueno: To me, it feels sturdy and tactile, much less smooth and "papery" (for want of a better word) than some other paper-bound editions I have. Without knowing the material you might almost take it for buckram.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 9, 2:05 pm

>58 ian_curtin: Thanks! Sounds like the SE is really solid. It's definitely on the list for the next order. I'm guessing around the 14th of this month for the new collection? Can't wait!

Edit - the Folio website page has been updated to include a video of McKean talking about illustrating Roadside Picnic (with more images of the SE).

maaliskuu 22, 10:02 pm

I might be a bit late to the party but I was pleased with the SE version. To me the cover is like a faux cloth attempt. It has texture and feels slightly tactile, unlike obvious slick paper covers like their Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. While I won’t complain, it would have been nice to see a cloth at this price like their Something Wicked This Way Comes.

What I can say is that the digitally printed page ends are crisp and evenly applied, unlike some sprayed attempts out there. For the price I was extremely happy with the product and my biggest complaint is the spacing of the outer margins. A rough look of my other Folio books showed that they seem to have around a .75 inch inside margin and double the outside. This books outside margin is 1.75 inch and even though its only .25 of an extra inch it just seems too large and draws the eye. However, I only own twelve books from Folio, so I am barely a novice.