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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

“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)

Featured Article: The Best Sci-Fi Book-to-Film/TV Adaptations


Beyond raising fascinating possibilities, the best works of science fiction ask big questions: What does it mean to be human? What will the future look like? What mysteries does the universe hold, and what do they mean for life on Earth? Whether you choose to escape via audiobook, movie, or television, these science fiction stories are truly out of this world—in all their incarnations.

What listeners say about Who Goes There?

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Astounding ... Incredible ...

So unbelievably good! Up there with anything from Matheson, Asimov, Clark. Great economy of words, while weaving intense suspense. Makes the two movies that followed feel like pale imitations. Also, terrific narration, gripping.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

An Absolute Classic!

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.

39 people found this helpful

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Pretty cool

I love old sci-fi! I had never heard of this one before. Apparently it was quite popular. Although it's an older story it still holds up quite well today!

6 people found this helpful

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Classic Sci-Fi Novella. Good, Not Great.

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.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Scary arctic adventure - great narration.

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!!!

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful story!

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!

16 people found this helpful

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Great little SCI-FI pulp!

If you're at all a fan of the John Carpenter movie this is a must listen. This short story does not go in depth into the various characters as in the film; but feels more like a very detailed campfire story or 1-shot comic book

Its only about 2 hours long so you'll be able to get through it in a single sitting.

The narrator gives an excellent performance and never once becomes annoying or repetitive. Steve Cooper, Sci-fi writer himself, makes you feel the madness creeping into the camp as the scientists attempt to discover who among them is "The Thing."

This short story was recently found out to be a short version of a larger story John W Campbell had been working on. Found in a box of manuscripts Campbell had previously sent to Harvard University. The Manuscripts were collected and published in 2018 under the title "Frozen Hell." Any fan of "Who Goes There" any of the various "The Thing" movies or H.P. Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness" should check it out.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Classic

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.

31 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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great idea, bettered by Carpenter.

Any additional comments?

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.

Enjoy!

13 people found this helpful

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classic 5 stars for a classic

grew up on the 1951 movie The Thing
enjoyed the 80's remake of the movie. i saw in the credits of that movie "based on the story - Who Goes There 1938" by JW Campbell. The story puts both movies to shame.
Cooper captures the characters and the story theme perfectly. I'm there...with the thing....

1 person found this helpful

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  • bread ROLL
  • 04-17-20

You're a dead man McReady!

The origin to one of my all time favourite films.

Written well and unfolds at a good pace, some may struggle with the style being from the 1930's but I didn't find this an issue.

I would say overall I prefer the film but there is a great story here that is performed really well by the narrator. I also enjoyed the intro that gave the history of the book and its adaptations.

If you like the movie or are just a fan of Sci-Fi and literature written before the whole "woke" movement ruined everything, pick this one up

4 people found this helpful

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  • Sean
  • 11-20-21

Not what I expected

I loved the John Carpenter film so I thought it was about time I read the short story it’s based on. Boy am I glad I didn’t read this before seeing the film. The narrator is excellent but the story is so lifeless and is 90 percent exposition dumps. It lacked the suspense, action and paranoia the film evoked so well. John Carpenter is a genius to make such a great film from so little.

2 people found this helpful

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  • jalf
  • 04-08-19

Wonderful simple story that works so effectively.

Such a good story that dives into the paranoia of man in a very isolated place. If you enjoy the movie you'll love it but in no way is one piece dependant on it's counter part. Perfection of short story telling.

2 people found this helpful

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  • James Ogdon
  • 06-10-21

Great Book

As a fan of the film The Thing I thought I would give the source material a go and I was not disappointed. It is similar to the film but different enough to be it's own thing and it was highly enjoyable ,a definite recommendation.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Thomas Main
  • 03-14-22

Excellent adaptation of an excellent novella.

One can immediately see how John Carpenter tried to keep as true as possible to the novella. The elements added do the movie only go to illustrate what a good book this is and is not diminished by time in any way.

A really enjoyable read and highly recommended to everyone.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-19-22

Nice!

loved it, the movie by carpenter was soooooo close to it but I think the movie ending was superior

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  • David Rowe
  • 01-31-22

dated

have to say the John carpenter film is better then the book and that is seldom the case, the idea behind the book is a really good but the clanky why the story is told is very off putting

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-08-21

Not too difficult to follow and perfect length

While not short, like your typical 45 to 1 and a half hour radio show, it has a nice length of over 2 hours. Good for those not so short bus / train rides.

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  • Emma J
  • 04-23-21

Chilling.

A fantastic, thrilling story, by a fantastic narrator. I'd gladly to listen to anything narrated by him.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Forgotten-Static
  • 03-06-21

Good but lackluster short

Good but it's a simple listen and leaves you wishing for more to sink yourself into so in that regard it's going to leave you feeling short changed but nevertheless it's a good listen

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  • Thomas
  • 04-15-19

More Human Than Human

This is a fantastic and terrifying study of what fear and paranoia can do. I know I'm not infected but I'm not so sure about you. Are you sure about me?

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-22-17

Fantastic.

Just as suspensful as the movie. (By John Carpenter) It definitely sheds light on why movie goers and critiques who may have read the book said that his movie was a 'splatter fest' as The Thing in this book is more peaceful. Waiting to the very last moment to strike in self defence. It definitely gives a new perspective and it's fun to see the story beats that lead to the film. Unfortunately short, but a great listen.

1 person found this helpful