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.
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!!!
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!
My taste vary. I love a good, blood stained horror, but also a well written kids story. Lots of Sci-Fi, but also Hist. Fiction. No boring!!!
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.
I love the movie so this story had a high standard with me but I did enjoy Steve Cooper. His voice fits the story well: strong, assertive. Worth the listen.
Id just make it longer and a little more action packed.
No but I will check some more from him after this. He was a really good performer and he pulled you in.
While I did enjoy the story, I found it to be quite slow going. It was tense but I wanted more from it. It was a very short and quick read and overall, quite enjoyable.
A Sci Fi junkie who occasionally goes slumming to read other literature.
A story ahead of its time. Writing quality?... there are enough adverbs to sink a battleship. Poor writing typically draws harsh criticism out of me, but when I consider the multiple themes and ideas packed into this little jewel of a story, and put it into the context of its time, it is superb.
Narrator Steve Cooper is OK, but his voice is not one I would want to spend more than about three hours with.
One of the things that surprised me about this 1938 Hugo-winner was its conformity to modern science. I am not enough of a historian to always remember at what point people knew what facts, so I was a little surprised at the references to atomic power, and fairly advanced discussions of biochemistry. Physicists or biologists would probably find some fault with the technical details in this novella, but it reads as quite a plausible, relatively "hard" SF story given that the premise is a shapeshifting alien being thawed after spending 20 million years frozen in Antarctica.
This novella is better known, of course, by the movie based on it, John Carpenter's The Thing, which was a remake of 1951's The Thing from Another World.
Characterization is sparse, as is typical of 1930s sci-fi. The team of scientists and research camp staff are not much more than names and roles — which isn't much of a fault in a story where most of the characters are expendable. What's notable is how much Campbell does convey in his sparse descriptions.
"Vance Norris moved angrily. He was comparatively short in this gathering of big men, some five feet eight, and his stocky, powerful build tended to make him seem shorter. His black hair was crisp and hard, like short, steel wires, and his eyes were the gray of fractured steel. If McReady was a man of bronze, Norris was all steel. His movements, his thoughts, his whole bearing had the quick, hard impulse of a steel spring. His nerves were steel—hard, quick acting—swift corroding."
After finding an alien spaceship that was generating a magnetic field strong enough to distort their compasses from miles away, they bring back a frozen thing in a block of ice. Obviously, such a remarkable scientific discovery cannot just be left alone - they make plans to bring it back to New York. Which means thawing it out.
Obviously, this is not going to end well. Despite the biologist's confident assurances that the thing couldn't possibly still be alive after being frozen for 20 millions years, they are soon playing a game of "Monster, monster, who's the monster?"
This story reminded me quite a bit of H.P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness — not just because of the Antarctic setting, but also the stark terror of ordinary, rationalist-minded men facing alien, cosmic horror. Campbell did a lot more with psychological suspense, though, as the survivors eye one another knowing that one or more of them is actually an alien.
A classic for good reason, and the remote, Antarctic setting, not changed all that much in the decades since, means it hasn't aged too badly.
"The Original and still the best Scifi Short Story!!!"
Well thought out and interesting concept! As with the subsequent films this book is as fresh now as it was then & makes you think of what could be out there and what would we do if we met it!
"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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