Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell Jr.

“Who Goes There?” The novella that formed the basis of “The Thing” is the John W. Campbell classic about an antarctic research camp that discovers and thaws the ancient, frozen body of a crash-landed alien.

The creature revives with terrifying results, shape-shifting to assume the exact form of animal and man, alike. Paranoia ensues as a band of frightened men work to discern friend from foe, and destroy the menace before it challenges all of humanity!

My Thoughts

kurt russel in the thing - very cold and frosted over

I’m a big fan of the film The Thing, it’s one of the Hallowe’en favourites in my house and we watch it at least once a year. So I was excited to read this, a collection containing the short story it was based on. Set in Antarctica a group of scientists find an alien frozen in the ice. They bring it back to camp and defrost it, accidentally bringing it back to life!

It was written in the 1930s but, apart from a few references to the way they were living, this could easily be a modern-day story. The film was made in the 80s and they didn’t really have to do much to it then to bring it up to date. The sci-fi side of the story I enjoyed and is what made this an enjoyable read for me. Though I’m not sure how accurate the biology in the story is, probably not very, he seems to explain most of it with the idea that it’s alien and therefore works differently. And giving the alien blue hair like worms and telepathy I felt was an odd touch that undermined the rest of the story. Other than that I think this has aged well and it can stand up against modern sci-fi with few issues.

As a horror story I’m not convinced it works that well, the feeling of isolation and fear of the people around you that I was expecting just wasn’t there. This is one of the few times where I would have liked a little bit less science discussion in favour of more emotion.
The rest of the stories in the collection really weren’t my sort of thing. A few of them are written as one person telling someone else a tale of extraordinary events that have happened to them. I found them far fetched and not particularly interesting and I don’t think they’ve aged well.

Worth reading for the first story in the collection, especially if you’re a fan of the film but I wouldn’t bother with the rest of the stories.

Who Goes There?
John W. Campbell Jr.
Sci-Fi
1938
248

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