In Mrs. Caliban, Rachel Ingalls flexes verisimilitude like a fine muscle with tight, controlled prose that doesn’t let on to the wildness of what’s taking place on the page. Namely, that a Mrs. Caliban is having an affair with a six-foot tall frogman.
Roadside Picnic is a head above your run-of-the-mill pulp—it's surely still pulpy, but one that elevates itself in certain ways. The premise here is that alien life has visited Earth, though there has been no direct contact with the beings. In their wake, there are "Zones" where various alien artifacts, technology, and ephemera are scattered.