Who Goes There?, the novella that formed the basis of the film The Thing, is the John W. Campbell classic about an antarctic research camp that discovers and thaws the ancient body of a crash-landed alien.
©1966 John W. Campbell (P)2009 Rocket Ride Books
“John W. Campbell is the most powerful force in science fiction ever.” (Isaac Asimov)
"One of the finest science fiction novellas ever written." (Science Fiction Writers of America)
The plot is quite simple: a scientific expedition isolated in Antarctica discovers a long-frozen alien ship, and a long-frozen alien corpse...
"Who Goes There?" is one of the top science-fiction novellas ever published. Well written, carefully thought out plot, (mostly) realistic characters and setting. Although the plot revolves around alien monsters, the interplay of the human characters makes the story very real and very well-balanced.
In addition to being a great story in itself, many of the themes and concepts have crept into many places in sci-fi and horror. The 1950's movie, "The Thing," and John Carpenter's later remake, are (loosely) based on "Who Goes There?".
William F. Nolan's narration is good, if a little slowly-paced. He is hampered by the fact that there are about a dozen speaking characters (all men), and making them all sound distinct is rough. I think a professional narrator might have done a better job, but Nolan's narration is more than acceptable.
The audiobook edition opens with a 6-or-7 minute introduction written by the narrator which provides background on Campbell, the story and "The Thing." Useful, but longer than needed.
This is a great preamble for those who have not watched The Thing or The Thing From Another World. Or those who have to give you greater insight. It's amazing how this story is so ahead of its time and how it still holds one enthralled. A great, tight little SF thriller that will hold your interest until the end. Highly recommended!
I was so glad to see this wonderful story finally available in audio. An intelligent, frightening, and engaging tale of the discovery of an E.T. frozen in the arctic. And, of course, the "thing" is neither completely dead nor very friendly ... A pioneering early SF story that has been imitated many times but is a refreshing listen in its original form, especially with a wonderful narration by Steve Cooper. Bravo, Audible, for bringing this to audio!!!
I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY (alien sci-fi) - As the summary mentions, this books is about a frozen alien which is thawed by members of an arctic science expedition. Oops.
There is lots that is good about this story -- the way the alien was discovered, its unique traits and the way it tries to survive and grow. The scientists have a monster on their hands, and they must figure how to contain it and keep it from spreading to the populated world. The story is suspenseful and ends well. My biggest complaint is rooted is that I was underwhelmed by the description of the creature itself. I just couldn't get into a blue wormy alien with three red eyes. I guess I'm spoiled by the "advancement" of alien monsters over the last 70 years.
PERFORMANCE - I have no real complaints about the performance, but there is nothing spectacular about it either.
OVERALL - This reads like a B-movie, but it's still entertaining. No cursing or horrific gore. Just a scary monster that turns people against each other and causes death and mayhem. Not recommended for young children, obviously, but recommended for males/females who like sci-fi.
I am brutally honest. Popular, love everything they read, reviewers are scared to go neg. and risk their ranking. It's your money!!!
This is a classic and is recommended by "Must Read 501, Sci Fi" This was written in 1938 and you should keep that in mind when reading it. I believe three movies have been made from this Novella. This is about an alien ship that lands on earth before man even exists. The ship gets buried in Antarctica. Each and every cell in the alien body is an entity in itself and can duplicate other living beings. If one cell escapes and gets into our population then it will take over the world. The whole concept of this story is just so freaking cool.
This is a classic story done several times in the film format, and not always successfully.
I found it funny that the intro criticizes Carpenter's screen play, because the things that Carpenter elaborated on (not really changed) were things I felt were missing from the story or didn't quite make sense as far as reactions and timing. Who watches Popeye during a crisis or lets a murderer get off with a slap on the wrist and a 'just don't kill anyone else, ok?" And while, yes...the Carpenter version is a bit gory, the novel version never really 'GOES THERE' if you catch my drift. Characters will walk into a room and say something like "It's messy when they melt." as though they are talking about the snow on their boots....so, Carpenter is head and shoulders above the novel for bringing this original horrific idea to life. Also, his beginning and end are pure genius compared to the novel.
If you are a horror fan, you must of course add this to your 'read' pile - it's well worth it. If you are gonna to watch a film version, stick with the John Carpenter/Kurt Russell vehicle - it's also a classic. And once you read the book, do watch the film - it's great fun, with many a classic line. My absolute favorite, which makes me burst into uncomfortable, stress reliving laughter, every single time, being....
..."I know you gentleman have been through a lot....but when you find the time....I'd rather not spend the rest of the winter...TIED TO THIS F**K**G CHAIR!!!"
It's just done so much better and more sensibly done than the novel! lol.
While I never read the print version, I am familiar with Carpenter's movie, The Thing, which was based on this story. The is plenty of intrigue and exploring human nature while put in extreme conditions.
The book was well produced and narrated. I think I would have enjoyed it more if it has been longer with the plot more developed. It would be interesting to see how a modern accomplished science fiction writer would rework the story, not unlike Fuzzy Nation.
The history of this story and the film The Thing at the start is pretty interesting and an unexpected treat. The story itself lives up to its legacy. Thrilling for almost the entire runtime.
"Tell don't show syndrome"
While it is a very interesting and well told story, it suffers badly from a severe case of 'Tell Don't Show' making it drag on a bit. Also, you can't just tell the reader how to feel. You have to make them feel that with your writing. Overall, pretty good story, but would recommend John Carpenter's version over this.
"I like the story very much but..."
I really love this story. For the time period it was written it's pretty out there. Narration is good and in keeping with the style. That being said... The John Carpenter film version pips the original to the post. I'd recommend listening to this first though.
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