After Reading “Invaders” by John Kessel


The short-story “Invaders” has a lot of interesting factors to analyze as a science fiction. Choosing which aspect to look into deeply was a difficult task for me and puzzled me for a long time. I ended up deciding to analyze the analogy and dissimilarity between the Spaniards and the Krel, and how they were used for John to get his points across to his audience.

You would have already noticed that Krel may represent the Spaniards as the writer hinted it in many different places in the story. The Spaniards invaded the Inca in the name of their God; they possessed an extraordinary strength and used it to earn gold from the civilization. The Spaniards’ greediness resulted in the huge influx of gold into the Europe, causing the economic catastrophe in the area. The Krel was the same. They came to the Earth on the behalf of the God, and used their extraordinarily developed technologies to gain money. They also caused economic catastrophe in the world by releasing a tremendous amount of dollars in currency markets. It is clear that the Krel were meant to be taken as the Spaniards.

However, there are some differences between the two. Pizarro, the main character of Spaniards, doesn’t know how to read. Flash, the main character of the Krel, knows how to read, but doesn’t read. He sees non-fiction as the least advanced, fiction the next, and the mind-distorting drugs the most as an escaping tool from reality. He thinks that there are a lot of assumptions and intentions in books and that ruling elites use those to manipulate readers in their way. Books are good, but he assaults that those side-effects follow. On the other hand, drugs don’t have those side-effects; they are a ‘perfect’ escaping tool. In the end, Flash completely escapes from reality through drugs. He dies in drugs.

Also, the Spaniards believed in the power of prayer. They said they would win the battle with the Inca and be covered in glory for five hundred years if they would accompany with the God. Pizarro felt the power of God on his arms before the battle, and actually won the battle dominantly. Like this, the Spaniards’ prayer seemed to be powerful and would fulfill the glory for five hundred years as well. But their world broke down by a time-traveler, remaining just a few decades from 500 years. At first, the Krel seemed to believe in God and the power of prayer, too. They said they were guided by God and that they could travel the interstellar distance by the power of prayer. But Flash confessed that all of those were lies. There was nothing to be fulfilled and turned out as truth in the end; God and the power of prayer seemed to be mere delusions in the story.

Apparently, John seems to see the religions, drugs, and science fictions as essentially the same – they are all just methods of escaping from reality and human nature. He seems to stand on the positive perspective on using these escaping tools. However, he subtly steps back to the neutral position at the end of the story using faint nuisance. Before death, Flash implicitly said that the time travel method he sold was merely a hallucinogen for eternity. In other words, the time traveler was captured in his own imagination and beliefs, and the reality wouldn’t get affected or changed at all. The story ended with the sentence, “the traveler and everyone had lived happily ever after”, with a strong implication of being in the hallucination. Would the time traveler be truly happy? Would escaping from reality through science fictions or drugs get you to true happiness? John throws these questions at the audience and leaves them in thoughts, without an attempt to manipulate the readers.

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