Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rare Book Review: Who Goes There?

October turned out to be all things Thing for me.  I saw the shitty prequel, re-watched the amazing original and the even more amazing Carpenter re-make, survived The Thing haunted attraction at Universal Studios, and finally, read the original short story all of this is based on: Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell Jr. 

First appearing in Astounding Stories in 1938, Who Goes There? is a classic tale of fear and paranoia set in Antarctica.  Those familiar with Carpenter's film will be familiar with this story: The Thing follows the novella pretty closely.  A group of 37 men are doing scientific research in Antarctica when they discover a ship frozen in ice (The Thing prequel released this year actually follows this part of the story.)   They also discover the alien pilot, frozen in ice.  They take the specimen back to their base and attempt to thaw if out for further research.  Bad idea.....

It soon becomes clear to the men that this "thing" is still alive, and able to "imitate" both man and beast.  It also is telepathic, an element that is missing from the film.  Second in Command McReady (upgraded from pilot) takes over when it becomes clear Commander Garry may be compromised.  McReady develops a "test" similar to the one in Carpenter's film.  Only during this test, 14 men a proven to be "thing" and they are immediately killed.  There is no messing around in this story...

I loved Who Goes There?  It is fast paced, scary, and funny as hell.  The humor in this story is something I found missing in every filmed version.  I don't want to give anything away, but lets just say the ending is a bit more upbeat here than in Carpenter's film.  My only complaint is that there are too many characters: it gets a bit hard to keep track.  One complaint about Carpenter's film is that there are no women, something the prequel tried to remedy.  Well, there are no women in this story either.  Just a whole lot of dogs, a lot of hairy stinky men, and one nasty "thing." 

So now I would like to introduce my first Thing ranking.  Most loved to least loved..

1.The Thing 1982
2.Who Goes There? 1938
3.The Thing from Another World 1951
4.Any Thing rip off film every made
5.The Thing: The Musical
6.The Thing 2011

I hope this helps you with all of your "Thing" needs...

"Because they came from another sun, a star beyond the stars.  They came from a world with a bluer sun."


1 comment:

Will Errickson said...

Cool! Great review. Never read it, but I bet I have it in an SF anthology somewhere on my paperback shelves. I was pretty disappointed to hear the negative reviews of the most recent version...