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Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell

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“Who Goes There?” is a 1938 science fiction novella by John W. Campbell, Jr. It is about a group of scientists in Antarctica who discover a deadly alien frozen in the ice.

All About The Thing!

I had a fun week with this story: first I spent several days reading the original story, then I read the un-official sequel, then I watched the 1982 movie! I really enjoyed all of them, and now the storyline is completely burned into my memory! Sometimes you gotta just go full blow, you know, to really experience something. Anyway, there are no regrets as it was a very cool story and I consider it time well spent! 🙂

Non-Spoiler Summary

Meat locker by Ciro Boro, CC 2.0 license

This story follows a group of American scientists who are living in a camp in Antarctica and studying the magnetic south pole. When some of them go to investigate a secondary magnetic influence some 80 miles from camp they find an alien vessel that has been buried in the ice for over a million years! Better yet, they also find one of the aliens frozen just below the surface. So they do what any good scientists would do – they dig up the corpse and bring it back to base camp for further investigation. There are a few problems with their actions, though, such as the fact that the alien is really scary looking, it seems to have some sort of telepathic abilities, and it isn’t as dead as they think. And worst of all: it has the ability to change shapes! Well, as you can imagine this starts quite a scare in camp and makes the men super paranoid. As the “Thing” starts to pick off the men the remaining human survivors take some pretty drastic measures to not only rid themselves of the alien but also make sure it never leaves their remote camp!

Some Interesting Tidbits

  • Word count: 21,768 (37 pages)
  • This story has been the basis for several movies: the first in 1951 as The Thing from Another World, the second in 1982 as The Thing and the third in 2011 as a prequel also titled The Thing.
  • If you haven’t seen one of these movies then be sure to check out this creepy trailer of John Carpenter’s 1982 version!

Where To Find Who Goes There?

Craving More SF Stories Like This One?

This is a cool story and after reading it you may want to read about the alien’s point of view! Yeah, be sure to check out “The Things” – a 2010 science fiction short story by Peter Watts which gives you the other side of the story. It doesn’t hurt that it was nominated for multiple awards either!

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