"Invasion of the Martians"
by Robert Coover
Originally published in the September 12, 2016 issue of The New Yorker.

September 12, 2016Happy Labor Day for those of you in the U.S. I’m engaged in family fun, but I’m excited to see that a new Robert Coover story will be waiting when I’m done. I hope you all are having a great holiday as well, and I’m excited to see if this is Coover in form. Leave your comments below and have fun discussing “Invasion of the Martians”!

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By |2016-09-05T12:24:33-04:00September 5th, 2016|Categories: New Yorker Fiction, Robert Coover|Tags: |7 Comments


  1. Eric September 6, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    Wow. It seems that nobody wants to be the first to touch this one, so I guess I’ll take the plunge. I was put off at first by the over-the-top stereotypes and seemingly gratuitous sexuality in the first two paragraphs; it seemed to me to be of a piece with the knee-jerk contempt that half our polity shows for the other half nowadays. And it kind of was, but, after the beginning, I can’t point to any one paragraph in Coover’s savage satire that I would honestly say is uncalled for. Some might object to the author’s light farcical tone, but the laughs were what kept me reading through the wince-of-recognition stuff.

    Probably a lot of people will hate this, for perfectly valid reasons. But for me it was a tour de force, quite possibly the best distillation of 2016 USA political culture that I’ve seen.

  2. David September 6, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    Eric, it was not so much not wanting to touch it as not feeling strongly enough about it to bother to start the discussion. I liked the light farcical tone of the story and I didn’t mind the first two paragraphs, but I found the obsession with his penis injury to be too juvenile in how it was presented. I also had a similar feeling to when I read “Gender Studies” that in both cases the author wanted to make some statement about current politics but had nothing really new or interesting to say at all. In the interview he says he was more a reflection about the refugee crisis of last year than political debates about illegal immigration, so why not put more of that in the story? Have the aliens who are landing be looking for refuge from some other aliens threatening them. At least that would have been a new idea and closer to the issue he says inspired him.

    The idea of the play on the double meaning of “alien” is not a new thought and some of the comedy seemed borrowed from things like Dr. Strangelove or a Kurt Vonnegut novel. I have read Coover’s New Yorker stories over the last several years and other than “Going For A Beer”, which I quite liked, I have not generally been impressed with his work. But despite my reservations, I did like it more than several of his more recent stories. I did laugh out loud twice, so that’s something, but overall it was just ok.

  3. Trevor September 7, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    I just got to it last night, and I was a bit worried that Coover had gone overboard, but I think my response is similar to Eric’s — he won me over. Personally, the obsession with his penis fit perfectly, going back to stories of LBJ showcasing his member to win over opponents to Trump saying his small hands do not indicate smallness elsewhere. Coover captured a certain type of politician well, though, like David, I felt a lot of it was very reminiscent of Dr. Strangelove.

  4. William September 10, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    this relates to JSF’s story, but that sequence is no longer active, so I am putting it into the latest story discussion.


  5. Peggy September 11, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    I thought this short story was hilarious.

  6. Roger September 12, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    There’s a not-so-fine line between clever and silly, and Coover strode decisively into the silly side in this one.

  7. Greg September 17, 2016 at 9:18 am

    I agree with the consensus view that this is an enjoyable light read.

    And thank you William for sharing that funny article on what Americans typically stuff into their ‘Great American Novel’! I’m quite certain Avataram will enjoy it too since she recently took a jab at the “Jonathans”…..I personally thought mostly of Franzen while reading the article!

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