Five Stages of Grief After the Alien Invasion.

Brief synopsis: alien terraforming spores land on earth and cause massive environmental death and destruction. Then the aliens themselves show up and say they didn’t realize the planet was inhabited and work to negotiate territory for colonization in exchange for helping to repair the damage. All life on earth is touched by the upheaval, and one family in particular experiences the suffering of loss in a multitude of ways.

Things I liked: advanced, non-humanoid, non-solid (?) alien life. A language based on telepathy, or possibly memory-probing.

Things I was okay with: the fact that an advanced alien civilization would accidentally cause the apocalypse. There’s no reason for these aliens to lie about their intentions. They can do whatever they like without consequences. Unless their goal is for humanity to be their slaves but also their friends? I don’t know, but the story isn’t really about the reason for the end of the world, just its consequences.

Things I didn’t like: the fact that only a year has passed since these spores destroyed the world. Yet, socially, it’s business as usual. The young girl goes to school, the government enters talks with the aliens, people migrate away from uninhabitable areas, and.. that’s it. The grief in this story is entirely personal. Ellie grieves for her lost infant, but it feels like her daughter might as well have died of entirely mundane causes. We are repeatedly told that the alien spores wiped out – that is, caused the total extinction of – every species of bird. This is not presented as a world-destabilizing catastrophe, but as something that makes the survivors, who are otherwise going about their normal lives, sad. This story is about the consequences of the end of the world, and those consequences felt weak. I’m not saying this story should’ve been The Road, but for me the premise was dwarfing any grief the characters were feeling.