Steven Millhauser, "The Invasion from Outer Space"

The aliens are here, and they’re kinda eh.

(from The New Yorker, Feb. 9 & 16, 2009)

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 . . . And so, when it finally happened, because it was bound to happen, we all knew it was only a matter of time, we felt, in the midst of our curiosity and terror, a certain calm, the calm of familiarity, we knew what was expected of us, at such a moment.

This is a quick one about a small town getting bombarded by single-cell aliens that look like yellow dust and multiply rapidly. The townspeople (the only real characters) are bummed because instead of a benevolent invasion (or even an exciting malevolent one) they’ve just got this dust. I mean, it’ll probably turn out to be a bad thing, but it’s gonna be slow and dull.
Read it here. Recommended accompanying track: Brian Dewan, “The Creatures.”
I’m trying to work my way through a stack of accumulated New Yorkers.
They multiply rapidly. Tom Scharpling is right: A New Yorker subscription is homework.

One thought on “Steven Millhauser, "The Invasion from Outer Space"

  1. Skylar Williams

    Hi Im taking a New York State regents and it would really help if I had a better Understanding of Steven Millhauser’s “The Invasion From Outer Space”. I just would like to know what is the interpertation of this excerpt.


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