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Who Goes There?

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3.86  ·  Rating details ·  6,278 ratings  ·  639 reviews
"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 disc ...more
Paperback, 161 pages
Published April 20th 2009 by Rocket Ride Books (first published August 1938)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
I first read "Who Goes There?," by the well-known Golden Age SF editor John W. Campbell, as a young adult and I have a lot of residual affection for it, and that's clearly coloring my 4 star rating for it. It's gloriously, unabashedly pulp SF and it's from 1938, so just know that going in. Once you get over the occasionally deep purple prose and the fact that there are only male scientists at this camp, there's a great story here.

This is a old-fashioned SF monsters-from-space horror story about
...more
Stephen M
Apr 05, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like their dialogue forced and their prose adverbly packed
Recommended to Stephen M by: Required
"The huge blowtorch McReady had brought coughed solemnly. Abruptly it rumbled disapproval throatily. Then it laughed gurglingly. . ."

Yikes.
Bionic Jean
Who Goes There?, by John W. Campbell Jr., is the novella on which "The Thing", the 1982 film directed by John Carpenter, is based. It was first published in the August 1938 edition of the "Astounding Science Fiction" magazine, under the pen name Don A. Stuart.

The story is set in Antarctica, where an isolated group of scientific researchers find the body of an alien creature in the ice. They realise that its spaceship must have crashed there 20 million years before. With misgivings, they proceed
...more
Jon Nakapalau
Almost every 'we are trapped and a monster is killing us one by one and now we are turning on each other' story or movie is indebted to this novella - highly recommended!
Ken
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The sole reason for wanting to read this book was for the titular novella Who Goes There? - most commonly known for the movie adaptation ‘The Thing’.
I was pleasantly surprised that this edition also included 6 other short stories.

Who Goes There? is the main focus as it’s the first in the collection, amassing 75 pages it’s close to a third of the whole books page count.

It’s certainly the strongest and most memorable story. Even though it’s quite telling by the prose that this was written in the 1
...more
Brian
Jul 11, 2013 rated it did not like it
I can't understate how terribly this thing was written. While the premise was interesting enough to create a classic in the hands of someone with a talent for the craft (I'm looking at you, John Carpenter), this original story fails on all levels. The characters are flat and interchangeable, changing their minds in mid sentence and wandering through tangential info dumps and speculations that come out of nowhere. Even stage direction is so lacking that you can't tell what's happening. People app ...more
Andrea
A: We found an unknown monster frozen in ice for 20 million years.
B: Let's defrost it!
A: Wouldn't the thing come to life or some unknown pathogen wipe out us all?
B: Nah, worked for the snakes.
C: Not on my kitchen table!
A: Okay.

*monster comes to life and rampages*

B: Hit it with human-immune rabbit blood!
A: AAARGH! *dies*
C: How do you know that the blood is a good indicator if one of us is a monster?
B: I'm a scientist, it will work.
C: Isn't assuming things about alien life what got us into this me
...more
Kirsten #helptheinnocentchildrenvictimsofaggression
The premise behind Howard Hawks' 1951 film "The Thing From Another World" -- one of my all time favorite films (not the colorized travesty).

However, if I had read this novella first, I probably would've hated it. The film does not follow the story very closely but it does keep the skeleton of the story. This is one of these classic premises. A group of people isolated and trapped with a killer. Yet, they don't know who the killer is! They can't trust each other, yet they have to trust each other
...more
David
Dec 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Antarctic researchers, shapeshifting aliens pretending to be Goodreads reviewers
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 shapeshi ...more
11811 (Eleven)
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
State of the art sci-fi horror.
The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon)
Okay, maybe to some, this is an obscure short story from an obscure writer better known for thriller science fiction than long involved novels. Or maybe, he's a household name in household's other than my own. Either way, I really liked this story. It's short. It's scary. It has a creative villain that is, perhaps, ahead of his time. At the heart of it it evokes man's fear of the unknown and pits his instinct for survival against his desire to understand the universe around him. Above all, it's ...more
Kate
3.5*
An Antarctic research crew finds unfriendly alien, kills it only to find it can't really be killed.

I love the movie The Thing, a fantastic sci fi horror that oozed paranoia and gore. This just didn't live up to the movie. It was still an interesting read but I didn't get any closure at the end, the flow of the book felt stilted and dialogue forced. There was also too many characters to concentrate on in such a short read and it got a bit confusing trying to keep everyone straight.

Enjoyable e
...more
Bill
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this. A very well done sci-fi/horror novella that definitely stands the test of time. Love the Carpenter movie too. The 2011 movie version sucked.
Jamie
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A seminal sci-fi classic, this is a chilling first contact story set amidst the desolation of Antarctica and a seriously taut, harrowing thriller. First published in 1938, the story holds up amazingly well and it's influence can be seen broadly on modern sci-fi, not least of all on the Alien/Aliens film series. Whether you've seen John Carpenter's classic film adaptation, The Thing, or any of the several others, this is worth a read. It's short and packs a punch!
Elaine
Very, very good - surprisingly so for me, since I don't typically care for older sci-fi (published in 1938).

This is the original story The Thing was based on. I have always loved that 1982 movie, starring Kurt Russell. The special effects seem cheesy now, but when it first came out it scared the bejeezus out of little me. The only thing the movie did better was the ending, which was terrifying in an I-can't-imagine-what-I'd-do-if-it-was-me situation: (view spoiler)
...more
S.P. Aruna
Jun 05, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a landmark book, having inspired 3 film adaptations and perhaps (going out on a limb here) gave rise to the idea in Jack Finney's Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
The author, John W. Campbell Jr, is said to have influenced sci-fi writers from Asimov Isaac to Robert A. Heinlein.

But with all this historical context, I have to say I was still disappointed. If I was limited to one word to describe this novella, I would say 'disjointed,' and this includes the dialogue. It was hard to follow wh
...more
Timothy Boyd
I enjoy reading a classic SiFi story when I can to see how some of the themes and concepts of the genre got started and how some of the older writers used, and in many cases invented them. I am always impressed with these early stories when I think of the time they were written in and how they must have seemed so fresh and new to a reader of that era. This was an interesting read because the story focuses really more on the people trapped with the monster rather than the monster itself. Nice rea ...more
Hunter Shea
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Being that THE THING is my favorite horror movie, I'm shocked it took me so long to read the novella that inspired it. I was most surprised that Carpenter's version was the one to more closely match the book. Though the dialogue is stilted and far from normal conversation, the all too terrifying groundwork is there, as is the fear and isolation. I was lucky enough to snag a yellowed, Dell paperback from mucho decades ago loaded with Campbell short stories.
TraceyL
A great, short science fiction thriller which inspired many movie and TV show adaptations - my favorite being the X-Files episode "Ice."

description

I thought it was very good example of classic science fiction. Worth the read.
...more
Michael
Jun 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
The premise of John W. Campbell's "Who Goes There" is so pervasive in the science-fiction and fantasy genre (alien can look shift to look and sound like any member of a small, isolate group of people) that many readers will find it difficult to put those notions aside and really dig into what is one of the most entertaining and influential novellas of the genre.

Part of that is due to the strong influence of the two movie adaptations of the work, both known as "The Thing." The other is that ever
...more
The Behrg
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star-reads
I've always loved the movie The Thing. As if the setting of Antarctica isn't scary enough, add a shape-shifting alien to the mix and double down on the scares with the caveat -- you can't trust anyone.

It's always a worry when you go back to the source material of a project you love. Will it hold up? Will it be like you remembered? Or will it fall short of what you've no doubt built up within your own head?

While writing has changed immensely since 1938 when this story was first released, I focus
...more
Radiantflux
81st book for 2019.

While I preferred the 1982 movie The Thing with Kurt Russell—somehow the stupid things they did in the book, accidentally destroying the alien spaceship, thawing out the alien without proper supervision, seemed much more reasonable in the movie—it was a pleasure to read the original novella by Campbell.

Also the novella made me realize how rooted this story is in the mindset of US post-War communist paranoia—perhaps obvious in retrospect—accounting no doubt for its enduring su
...more
Matthew Cross
I really enjoyed this but I felt like things missing like it should have been longer , missing plot points so I went online and did some searching - ive just finished reading who goes there and just found out online that an original manuscript buy the author was found and re published containing 40 or so pages cut from who goes there with and original opening to the story its available as ebook /kindle and its called Frozen Hell ( obviously the same author) just purchased it for £5 , it is avail ...more
Paul
Nov 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
Five stars for 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.
Avinash
3.5 Stars actually

This novella is a milestone in sci-fi genre. Three movie adaptations (in 1951, 1982 & 2011) and then a novel based on a 1982 movie are more than enough to prove that. In fact the concept and settings have been adopted and explored so many times (with certain improvisation here and there) over the last 8 decades that unfortunately the story has lost its charm quite a bit.

A group of scientists discover an alien spaceship frozen in Antarctica, where it crashed twenty million years
...more
Adriana (Mea) Gutierrez
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Who Goes There? is the tale of a research group discovering a foreign “thing” which has been frozen in an ice block. They have to decide what to do with the Thing- do they melt it, cast it back where it came from, call for help? The research team which is composed of an extremely smart group of individuals: biologist, physicist, aviation mechanic, meteorologist, etc. who each bring unique theories to the table. You could not have a more intelligent group taking on the world’s most frighting crea ...more
Rick
This a near perfect example of classic pulp-era science fiction. One-part horror, one-part science and one-part social commentary. The prose is fast and lose, sloppy even at points, but the underlying tension is palpable and the implications are devastatingly horrific. The premise is surprisingly simple, and the cultural ramifications are terrifying, it's a pity that Campbell made some rather silly blunders in the last couple chapters that undermine the science in the story. Or did he? What appe ...more
Kirstine
"No thing made by intelligent beings can tangle with the dead immensity of a planet's natural forces and survive."

I didn't know this was a novel before I watched the movie. I might never have known, had it not been one of amazon's kindle daily deals. However, I do know and I've read it and I rather enjoyed it.

The premise is brilliantly thought up. 37 men isolated on Antarctica with a shape-shifting alien. Who's real, who isn't? And for these men to battle something they don't know a thing about
...more
Jonathan Janz
Jan 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Most of what needs to be said about this novella has already been said. It is indeed worth your time, and there are some flaws in it. I won't belabor these flaws but will instead point out one: the characters "speech" at each other rather than speak with each other. And the speeches they direct at one another do begin to take on a disconcerting uniformity. The voice of these speeches is florid, tangential, and a bit pretentious. So at times I found this to be distracting.

Having said that, WHO G
...more
Matt
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent story. I've wanted to read this for years! Such a cool and unique concept especially for 1938!
This has turned into an iconic story and become entrenched in pop culture because of the film adaptations but the story itself is terrific in its own right. A quick paced, sci-fi/horror lover's dream that gives us just enough monster action to satisfy and just enough science to explain. I loved it. The creature descriptions are neat and the characters are good enough. For the time it was writ
...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Correction 1 13 Jun 07, 2018 07:58AM  
The BOOK/MOVIE Club: Book #21 - Who Goes There? (The Thing) 16 33 May 28, 2018 09:32AM  
atavism 1 4 May 27, 2018 01:17PM  
The Ink to Film B...: The Thing 1 5 Feb 23, 2018 11:08AM  
* 1 2 Oct 28, 2017 03:10AM  
Short Fiction: Who Goes There? (aka The Thing) 8 10 Jun 18, 2016 11:52AM  
Books2Movies Club: Who Goes There? 3 17 Nov 11, 2014 02:55AM  

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John Wood Campbell, Jr. was an influential figure in American science fiction. As editor of Astounding Science Fiction (later called Analog Science Fiction and Fact), from late 1937 until his death, he is generally credited with shaping the so-called Golden Age of Science Fiction.
Isaac Asimov called Campbell "the most powerful force in science fiction ever, and for the first ten years of his edito
...more

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