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Who Goes There?: The Novella That Formed the…

Who Goes There?: The Novella That Formed the Basis of the Thing (1938)

by John W. Jr. Campbell

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2961337,920 (3.76)1 / 34

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I rated this tale so highly not only because of its quality as a sci-fi horror thriller but also for its influence. I wonder how many later stories of humans taken over by alien viruses or suits or pods would have existed without this story. Campbell did a fine job of making it a hard science fiction story, as fine as he could before the DNA molecule was described and genetic engineering began. ( )
  Coach_of_Alva | Aug 7, 2017 |
"We've got monsters, madmen, and murderers. Any more 'M's' you can think of, Caldwell? If there are, we'll probably have 'em before long."

Yup, that about covers it! This is a nice, creepy lil' short story! Makes me want to stay the hell away from Antarctica, I'll tell you what! Blech!

(I'd like to add that this addition includes a screen treatment by William F. Nolan, for no reason that I can see. He also wrote the introduction. For me, I'd suggest just sticking to the words of Mr. John W. Campbell. Nolan can get his own book.) ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Jun 14, 2017 |
Creepy novella that packs all the horror thrill my weak stomach can handle; I can't carry that stomach anywhere near the 1982 film version that director John Carpenter cooked up. An awful-looking alien being is found frozen in the Antarctic and thawed out by researchers in the name of science. Foolish, foolish researchers. The horror is generated first by the alien's appearance, then by its awful abilities. Campbell was great with description and his characters prove their smarts as they creatively analyze and seek to correct their mistake. Very gripping once things start rolling, and just the right length for its subject. There's good reason why it keeps inspiring. ( )
  Cecrow | Jun 24, 2016 |
This book is actually a novella - quite brief, actually. The story is perhaps best known as the basis for the movie The Thing, the 1951 version directed by Howard Hawks, and the 1982 version directed by John Carpenter (a third version was made in 2011).

The story takes place at a research station in Antarctica. The remains of a crashed spaceship is found under the ice, and the body of one of its occupants is found nearby. The body is thawed and comes to life, with dire consequences for the inhabitants of the station. Whoa!!!

Author John W. Campbell, Jr. relies heavily on dialogue, and the descriptive narration is particularly weak. It does have some effective moments, but in all, it is a fairly cut-and-dried, second-rate, science fiction story.

If you have not watched the Hawks version, you get a typical 1950s B movie treatment: low on special effects, so-so acting. The Carpenter version is a classic - effectively produced, a nice set of actors, exceptional special effects, outstanding atmosphere. I haven't seen the 2011 version, but it is poorly rated on Rotten Tomatoes (35% - compared to 80% for Carpenter's take). Watch the movie - far better than the story.

If you have seen the film (especially Carpenter's), don't bother reading the book - it is disappointing. ( )
1 vote jpporter | Jan 13, 2016 |
This novella is the SF horror story that formed the basis for the various film versions of The Thing (from Outer Space). While it has tense moments, I think it takes too long to get to the point (despite being only 75 pages) and the long opening chapter contains a lot of scientific exposition that didn't grab me. The creature's powers are truly terrifying in their implications, but don't seem entirely consistent throughout. I also thought some of the dialogue was rather odd. Campbell, while a great SF editor, lacked the story-telling power of his most famous associate Isaac Asimov. ( )
1 vote john257hopper | Dec 30, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0899667341, Hardcover)

The tie-in to the upcoming blockbuster prequel to John Carpenter's THE THING - the never before told story of the original doomed Norwegian expedition. When a group of scientific researchers, isolated in Antarctica, stumble across an alien spaceship buried in the ice it seems like an incredible opportunity. The alien pilot can just be seen - a shadowy figure frozen just a short depth into the ice. It looks as though he survived the crash only to be flash-frozen on the Antarctic plateau. The team fight the frozen conditions to free the ship from the ice - with disastrous consequences - and rescue the alien. As they transport the corpse, one of their greatest finds, out on the ice back to their camp, several scientists begin to experience extraordinary, vivid and unsettling dreams. They're dismissed as the product of stress and the harsh conditions ...but the nightmare is only beginning.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:18 -0400)

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A distant, remote scientific expedition taking place at the North Pole is invaded by a space alien who has reawakened after lying dormant for centuries after a crash landing. A cunning, intelligent alien who can shape-shift, thereby assuming the personality and form of anything and anyone it destroys. Soon, it is among the men of the expedition, killing each in turn and replacing them by assuming their shape, lulling the scientists one by one into inattention (and trust) and eventually, their destruction. The shape-shifting, transformed alien can pass every effort at detection, and the expedition seems doomed until the scientists discover the secret vulnerability of the alien and are able to destroy it.ccording to science fiction historian Sam Moskowitz (1920-1997), Who Goes There? had a autobiographical impetus: Campbell's mother and aunt were identical twins and enjoyed teasing him in a game of substituting one for the other while in his care when they were infants and young children, thereby confusing him again and again with false (switched) identities. Moskowitz theorized that it was this game which lead to uncertainty of identity and clever masquerade which lead to feelings of helplessness and terror that Campbell funneled into what would be his greatest novel. This word is regarded as one of the greatest horror stories to emerge in the field of science fiction writing. It was also the basis for one of the great early science fiction films and its remake decades later.… (more)

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