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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you're a fan of the movie, buy the book, March 22, 2004
This review is from: The Thing: A Novel (Mass Market Paperback)
The Thing has gone through some interesting evolution from its original story, "Who Goes There?" In Who Goes There?, 30+ men working at a Cosmic Ray facility in the Antarctic discover, well, a thing. And that thing is part disease, part animal, part predator. It's a mimic that can replicate any form. And it has a desire to propagate. If it escapes from the facilities in the frozen wasteland, it will spread to humanity and ultimately take over every living thing in the world, all of them part of the original creature.
I had the privilege of reading the short story, the novelization, and watching the movie all within the span of a few days, so the differences and similarities were fresh in my mind. There are quite a few significant changes between the book and the movie, and the short story and the book.
Did I mention the men have cattle down in some weird storage facility? Cattle? I get the impression the original author never visited an Antarctic facility -- but hey, that's why it's called science fiction.
The short story is much more about the paranoia of men cooped up in close quarters, than about the alien itself. Everyone's too damn jovial -- they smirk and grin about everything even in the face of danger. It's all very pulpy too -- McReady is a "bronze god." He's strong, he's smart, and gosh darn it, everybody likes him!
In the short story, combat is so brief that in one case, it took several readings to recognize the men had attacked another transformed Thing. They "do their work" -- that sums up over a dozen man hacking a Thing to bits.
On the other hand, a lot of questions that I've seen on web sites dedicated to The Thing are explained. Do you know if you're a Thing? Yes, according to the short story. In fact, The Thing is telepathic -- that's how it can gain instant knowledge of everything about a person and imitate them so well. It also explains how the Thing is always one step ahead of the men in the movie.
I like to think of the short story as a summary of what happened to the Norwegians.
The novelization, extrapolated from the original script of the film, is one of those rare books that's better than the movie. There are less characters than the short story, but they react much more realistically. They are all seriously flawed (far more than the morons from Who Goes There?). Most importantly, the presence of guns heighten the tension.
The novelization makes the movie make more sense. Most specifically, the dogs don't run away from the Thing -- they attack it. This changes everything. The dogs become infected and run off, only to be chased by McReady and Childs. It's a shame the scene wasn't included -- it gives a hint of just what the Thing can do. It also explains how the Thing can be so large (another FAQ about Things).
One character (was it Saunders?) uses his roller skates to race for his life against the Thing as it plows behind him, only to get trapped in the bathroom and ultimately kill himself with a sharpened piece of wood.
There's a lot more discussion, but I understand why much of it was cut down. There's also better emphasis in the movie than in the book -- HOW the actors say their lines changes everything.
The most important discovery is that the Thing takes ONE HOUR to change into something else. This simple number changes the entire tone of the book. With a hard and fast rule, the character's paranoia and reactions are tempered by the knowledge that they have time on their side. Very different from the movie.
If you're a fan of the movie, buy the book.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars OTHER FACES OF THE THING, June 22, 2000
This review is from: The Thing: A Novel (Mass Market Paperback)
Alan Dean Foster's adaptation of John Carpenter's The Thing stands on its own as a worthy fear-inducing read, guaranteed to rob you of at least a night's good sleep. The book has several extended scenes not shown in the film, including a chase across the Antarctic wilderness after a pair of "thing-possessed" sled dogs, as well as some variations (an axe murder/a bathroom stall suicide) on characters' deaths that differ from the film. The story still follows 12 scientists in Antarctica who run afoul of a monsterous alien being who has the ability to "duplicate" any one of them. As one by one, they're absorbed and slain, the gruff helicopter pilot MacReady takes command of the isolated camp and tries to fight back against the hidden enemy amongst them. If you enjoyed the film as much as I have...it's worth seeking out this book. Cuddle up to a warm fire, under a fog-shrouded night, and dare yourself to leave the lights out...
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than Foster's ALIEN books, June 28, 2000
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This review is from: The Thing: A Novel (Mass Market Paperback)
A group of Americans in Antarctica find themselves being infected, one by one, by an alien which can mimic any living thing it absorbs.
Like so many of his novelizations, Alan Dean Foster does an excellent job of describing the mood of each situation, but fails when it comes to physical descriptions. If you don't see the film, it's hard to tell what the characters look like.
Foster worked off an earlier draft of the script, so the transformations of man to monster are less outlandish, but more plausible. Though I do not wish to give anything away, I must say that the ending as presented in this novel is far more exciting than the one which was actually filmed.
You should also read the original novella WHO GOES THERE? written by John W. Campbell, Jr. (as Don A. Stuart) which was the inspiration for the film. It is quite obvious that Foster read this in preperation for the book and used its influence to highten the power of the story.
If you're a fan of Foster, you might find this to be one of his best novelizations. If you're a fan of the film, you might enjoy the background given to not only the human characters, but the creature as well. But be warned, there are many differences in the story from the film.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different look at The Thing., February 28, 2002
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This review is from: The Thing: A Novel (Mass Market Paperback)
Foster's novelization of John Carpenter's The Thing contains more than just the script in novel form. It contains an atmospheric look at the icy isolation of living in some of the most inhospitable real estate on the planet, an entirely different approach to the characters and their relation to each other than Carpenter and his group of actors took, a completely different visualization of what the metamorphic beast and its infected victims look like, and one or two deleted scenes as well as a different final face off. The ending remains the same however. Fans of Foster or Carpenter's film will no doubt want this book in their libraries, as the movie could have easily been based on this instead of the other way around.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great novelization for a great movie, September 26, 2002
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Mish "Mish" (Pittsburgh, PA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Thing: A Novel (Mass Market Paperback)
It's sad this book is out of print - it's a great novel that can stand alone without John Carpenter's movie as a great horror novel.
An American team of scientists in the Anarctic stumbles upon the wrecked camp of a Norwegian team, unknowingly opening themselves up to an alien that can control and mimic its victims. Soon the team can't tell who is friend or foe.
Foster has the perfect writing style for this novel. You never know who the alien has taken over until it's too late. I guessed originally who was who, and I was way off. I recommend this novel to any fan of the film or any fan of horror.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An amazing paranoia induced novel., September 2, 2005
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E.W. "Book Master" (Deckerville, Mi. USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Thing: A Novel (Mass Market Paperback)
The Thing by Alan Dean Foster is perhaps one of the best horror books I've read in a while. The story is unpolished but is amazing. The characters are well done and although some more work on them would of been nicer, they are a joy to read about. The creature is terrifying and the deaths are grim and gruesome. The book itself is a near perfect look at paranoia induced horror and is great. Although not perfect, this read was enjoyable and scary.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary book!, January 4, 2012
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This review is from: The Thing: A Novel (Mass Market Paperback)
This book by Alan Dean Foster was scary. It was a novelization done for the movie, The Thing (a remake) that came out in the early 80's. It was 1983 I believe and didn't do well at the box office because the other movie about an alien was far more popular at the time - E.T. (directed by Spielberg). The Thing starred Kurt Russell and it was a fine performance. This book was just as good. The writing got under my skin with all the imagery and the suspense throughout. This is one of my favorite Alan Dean Foster books besides the novelization for the movie, Alien. Read it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Action/suspense novel with horror elements, August 12, 2012
This review is from: The Thing: A Novel (Mass Market Paperback)
I liked the way the author did not tell you who was infected as it helped you to understand the paranoia the characters were feeling. I also liked that the story was set at an Antarctic research station. Overall this was a pretty good book which at times was a little easy to put down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great companion for the movie!, May 12, 2011
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This review is from: The Thing: A Novel (Mass Market Paperback)
Wonderful. keeps pace w/the book but adds extra info! I am a real critical person about books to movie. LOVED IT!! Excellent!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good Read, June 11, 2014
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This review is from: The Thing: A Novel (Mass Market Paperback)
It is a great companion piece to the movie. There are some differences, but they're mostly sticking to the script rather than the finished film.
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The Thing: A Novel
The Thing: A Novel by Alan Dean Foster (Mass Market Paperback - June 1982)
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