I'm looking for the name of a (English-language) book read in the 1970s

  • The main plot focused on an alien scout-ship crash-landing and killing half of a town.

  • The (crashed) aliens take the identities of people who were killed in the crash and live among the population for around 20 years and have children who don't know they're are aliens.

  • The aliens were taking injections (shots) to keep themselves looking human.

  • They ultimately defend the town from an (impending) alien invasion by committing acts of sabotage. The fleet is getting close.

  • The lead looked uncannily like an old lady's son who died in vietnam.

  • Roughly speaking, when did you read this book? Was it in English? Did it seem to be part of a series? Can you recall or describe anything about the characters (genders, ages, names, descriptions, etc)?
    – phantom42
    Oct 14, 2014 at 4:57
  • was in English, in the late 70's. main characters weer high school age, Male lead character. Aliens were living in town for about 20 years. teens taking shots to keep them looking like dead people form 20 years age, lead looked like old ladys son who died in vietnam. also, the invasion fleet was getting close.
    – rich
    Oct 14, 2014 at 14:10
  • @rich - I've made an edit to try to make include the info you gave in your comment. Have a read and make sure I've understood you.
    – Valorum
    Oct 14, 2014 at 17:22
  • I'm pretty sure I've read this - just can't recall the name. The aliens take on the identities via dna, but the kids bodies start rejecting it as they go through puberty, and it can't be fixed - the dna's gone. All the aliens are part of the same church. One of the aliens had his tv antenna pointed the wrong way (looking for the invasion fleet's signal). the kids didn't know they weren't human till they started changing. the main character slowly figures out he doesn't want the invasion, tries to slow or sabotage it and later finds out his parents were doing the same, only more organized.
    – Megha
    Dec 19, 2015 at 12:48
  • possibly the same as scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/173216/… (which is newer but has an accepted answer)
    – Otis
    Nov 4, 2017 at 13:46

1 Answer 1


The Dark Side of Nowhere by Neal Shusterman, published 1996. There are a lot of similarities to the scenario you're describing. I thought of the story immediately, but had to find the book name and author before writing it as a reply.

  • The alien scout-ship crashed, disguised as a tornado. Between that and the radiation, they killed about a quarter of the town.

  • They take on the identities of some of those who are killed, using their dna, and used the excuse of an epidemic for the rest.

  • Their children are similarly hidden very young and brought up not knowing their history. This changes when one of the adults (who had his satellite pointing the wrong way listening for aliens) hears the signal that the fleet is finally coming, and he works to recruit the kids.

  • The kids (not the adults) have to take monthly shots to keep looking human (because their bodies reject the alien dna as they grow), it fails as the kids go through puberty and they won't be able to replace the disguise because the original dna is lost.

  • The main character looked exactly like a dead man, one JJ Bridges (having been hidden with his dna), whose elderly mother is found at one point, and recognizes the similarity. I think he might have fought in vietnam, but he didn't die there (or they wouldn't have his dna).

  • The lead (and a few others) ultimately decide that the invasion shouldn't succeed, that this conquest is wrong, they have lived as, and so become, more human than alien. They use work to halt the adults' plan (which was to sabotage human society so they'd be easy pickings) and warn the government about the coming fleet. The lead's parents also use sabotage, having come to the same conclusion earlier, but believing the kids weren't listening.

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