Alien Invasion A Deadly Letdown, According To The New Yorker

It figures. When aliens finally do invade and take over our planet, it'll be just as much an anti-climax as everything else. Are you ready for space conquest with ennui? The New Yorker hopes so.

The new issue of The New Yorker features "The Invasion From Outer Space" by Steven Millhauser, a slight amuse-bouche of a story about alien invasion. It's very short — you can probably read it on your coffee break — and packs just enough of a punch to justify its length. The first half of the story is the funny part, dealing with people's reactions to the news that aliens are going to land in their town — which are entirely conditioned by exposure to alien-invasion narratives in movies and television:

From the beginning we were prepared, we knew just what to do, for hadn't we seen it all a hundred times?-the good people of the town going about their business, the suddenly interrupted TV programs, the faces in the crowd looking up, the little girl pointing in the air, the mouths opening, the dog yapping, the traffic stopped, the shopping bag falling to the sidewalk, and there, in the sky, coming closer . . .

Of course, the alien invasion turns out not to be like a movie at all — in fact, it's something completely different, seemingly harmless at first but ultimately quite terrifying. Anyway, "Invasion" is a fun story, and winds up being very consciously science fictional, even though you think at first it's only going to be commenting on science fiction without actually embracing it. Check it out! [The New Yorker] Thanks Wilson!