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on March 14, 2004
Before you buy "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell Jr., you should first consider "A New Dawn: The Complete Don A. Stuart Stories" by the same author. It contains all the works of short fiction that are in this book, and it includes 9 more, as well as two articles. The price of "A New Dawn..." is just a little more than the cost of this book. As for this printing of "Who Goes There?", it is well put together; the binding and paper are high quality. They could have done a better job in proofreading though, as there are several places where there are missing letters, or spaces that appear in the middle of a word. It does not occur so often as to make it a big problem, but I found it to be noticeable.

This printing, from Buccaneer Books, is a reprint of the 1948 book of the same name. It contains seven short fiction pieces originally published in "Astounding Science Fiction" between November of 1934, and August of 1938. They were originally published under the pseudonym Don A. Stuart. This collection was tied for 13th with four other books on the Arkham Survey in 1949 as one of the 'Basic SF Titles'. In addition, on the 'Astounding/Analog All-Time - Book' polls in 1952 and 1956 it was rated 5th and tied for 13th respectively.

John W. Campbell (1910-1971) was undoubtedly best known as the editor of "Astounding Science Fiction" from 1937-1971, but he also wrote quite a few books and short fiction pieces along the way. This collection includes perhaps his best known stories: "Who Goes There?", "Twilight", and "Night".

"Who Goes There?" is the classic story of a group of scientists in Antarctica who discover an alien who was frozen there millions of years ago. The "Thing" revives when thawed, and due to telepathy and the ability to take other shapes it replaces members of the group as well as their animals without being easily detected by the remaining humans. Fear and paranoia spread through the outpost as the remaining humans try to wipe out the aliens before they are able to escape out into the rest of the world. There were two films based on this story: "The Thing From Another World" (1951), and "The Thing" (1982). The story was first published in "Astounding" in August of 1938, and is probably Campbell's best known work. The story was tied for 6th on the 'Locus All-Time Poll - Novella' in 1999. It tied for 1st (with Twilight) on the 'Astounding/Analog All-Time Poll - Pre-1940 Short Fiction' in 1971, and was 26th overall for Short Fiction regardless of year. This story works as well today as ever.

"Blindness" was first published in March of 1935. It is the story of a scientist who wants to leave a legacy by solving man's energy problems by discovering how to produce atomic energy. He determines that to solve the problems he has encountered in his research, he needs to examine the Sun more closely. He works through the problems of getting a spaceship close enough to the sun for his research, and he and his assistant spend over 3 years in isolation studying the Sun before he finally finds a solution. This story does suffer from its age, but putting aside the historical and scientific problems, the story still delivers its message. There is more than one kind of blindness.

"Frictional Losses" was published in July of 1936. It is the story set in a post-apocalyptic Earth, where an old man tries to keep civilization and technology alive. Humans were nearly wiped out by an alien invasion, and there is rumored to be a second expedition of aliens coming. Old Hugh, spends his time searching through ruined cities for old tubes, pieces of metal, whatever he can find to keep his radio transmitter working and keep communications alive between the few outposts of humanity that still have the technology. He accidentally makes a discovery that could save the human race. This story is a bit dated as well, but not too bad.

"Dead Knowledge" was published in January of 1938. Three human explorers to another world find that all the inhabitants have killed themselves. They are unable to determine the reason why, as they cannot decipher the alien culture's written language. When one member of the crew commits suicide, the other two fear that he learned the secret of what drove the inhabitants of the planet to suicide, and that they too are all doomed to the same fate.

"Elimination" was published in June of 1936. A patent attorney tries to explain to a close friend's son why a fantastic invention would be better forgotten. He relates the story of the greatest invention in the history of man, which ultimately destroyed its inventors and could never be used. The premise for this story is definitely contrived, and it doesn't work well. However, the story related within the story is quite well done, and that makes this an enjoyable read.

"Twilight" was the first piece in this collection to appear in "Astounding", published in November of 1934. It finished tied for 1st (with "Who Goes There?") on the 'Astounding/Analog All-Time Poll - Pre-1940 Short Fiction' in 1971, and 21st overall for Short Fiction of any era. It is a story related third hand, about an experimenter who is sent forward 7 million years in time after an accident. He has returned to "modern day" (1934) in an attempt to get back to his own era. He relates to a man who gives him a ride the tail of his adventure where he witnessed the twilight of humanity.

"Night" is the sequel to "Twilight", and was published in "Astounding" in October of 1935. It was rated 5th on the 'Astounding/Analog All-Time Poll - Pre-1940 Short Fiction' in 1971. In this sequel, an experimenter in current times (1935), gets sent far forward to the future, he relates his adventure when he returns. The future he witnesses is the "night" to the previous story's "twilight", after man has disappeared, and only machines remain at the death of the universe.
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on May 24, 2000
Science fiction devotees have long enjoyed viewing Howard Hawks' "The Thing," the classic 1951 film which helped usher in that decade's output of great and not-so-great sci-fi literature and films. This Hollywood effort, which ended as a dated cautionary tale warning of the perils from the skies (read: Russian menace) was remade by John Carpenter in 1982 as "John Carpenter's The Thing," an excellent and chilling revisitation of the theme of alien invasion, both planetary and corporeal. I had assumed that this film's graphic depiction of another life form's assimilation and extermination of humans was the pinnacle (in 1982) of sci-fi horror; that is, until I read the novella upon which these two films were based. John W. Campbell, Jr.'s "Who Goes There?" is literally a story that takes hold of one from the first paragraph and refuses to let go until the last. A narrative in the tradition of Lovecraft's "At The Mountains of Madness" and E.A. Poe's "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym," this is one of those increasingly rare books which can frighten one more readily than the most overtly obvious visual media, such as film or television. I cannot recommend this book enough; it will satisfy the hardcore science fiction fanatic (in which category this reviewer decidedly does NOT fit), the mystery buff, and the average reader who enjoys a well-crafted story. Purchase this modest novella, and prepare to read it in one sitting, most probably as I did: casting nervous glances around the room while trying to maintain my position on the edge of the seat.
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on August 6, 2001
This collection is a superior value. It contains not only Campbell's superb novella of sci/fi terror (Who Goes There?) but six other stories! All in a quality hardback! John W. Campbell, Jr. was one of the great science fiction writers in history. His approach to his craft in his all too brief career as a writer, and his long career as an editor (his employer would not allow him to both write and edit, so when he started as an editor he quit writing) were of incalculable influence. Many of sci/fi's greatest honed their craft at his feet. Unfortunately (indeed the word is disgracefully) very little of Campbell's work remains in print. Happily, Buccaneer Books has published this excellent collection. It opens with an interesting forward by Campbell himself. It contains the novella "Who Goes There?", and the stories "Blindness", "Frictional Losses", "Dead Knowledge", "Elimination", "Twilight", and "Night." 230 pages all told, nicely hardbound in blue cloth, and well worth your time and money.
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on May 18, 2009
John W. Campbell's classic tale of isolation and paranoia is the literary equivalent of 50 year old scotch (in this case, 70 years.) It just keeps getting better with age. If your only familiarity with this story is the cinematic adaptations, this your big chance. From the first paragraph, Campbell establishes a sense of foreboding and crushing claustrophobia that just doesn't translate to film. As a bonus, you get William F. Nolan's 1978 screen treatment. I thought it had a quirky 70's vibe. Sort of, Philip Kaufman's "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" meets Disney's "Escape to Witch Mountain."

A quick note on the cover art. Too much of today's science fiction is jacketed in cluttered, over painted, or just repetitive imagery. However, Rocket Ride Books took the high road with a restrained, well balanced, but still eye-catching cover piece that captures the essence of the story. In fact, they've done an all together first rate job with this re-issue. I look forward to whatever they have planned next.
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on April 10, 2012
This is a great story! However, Amazon needs to remove the editorial review which states there are "seven stories." I purchased the Kindle version thinking it was going to be a collection of short stories. It is only the Who Goes There? novella. Under the Product Details it also states the print length is 256 pages, which may be the print length of the 7 short stories but can't be the length of the one as I finished reading it in less than a day. Regardless, $5.79 is a great price for the book. I just wish I had known it was only the one story.
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on March 17, 2011
Who Goes There? is a novella written by John W. Campbell that was first printed in 1938. It is the book that was later adapted for The Thing From Outer Space and The Thing. I was eager to read this since The Thing is one of my top 5 horror movies of all time. I immediately noticed that a lot of the characters have the same name which was great since I felt like I could put a face with the characters. One small difference is there are more characters at the research facility. One of the things I loved about the movie is the feeling of isolation. Since you have more characters the isolation terror is not as pronounced, but that does not take away from the book at all. One other difference is the novella seems to focus most of its attention on the physiology of the alien. You get a lot of focus on the researchers debating on what they should do with the recently discovered alien.

There are more little differences in the book, but I am not going to get into all of them since I think fans of the movie should read this novella. The main story is only a little over 100 pages, so it doesn't take that long to read. I'm glad I read it because it changed my mind about calling The Thing a remake of The Thing From Outer Space. I'm sure when talking to other horror fans, I will reference The Thing as a remake just for conversations sake, but I don't think that's quite accurate. If anything, it's more of a re-imagining of the story. When you compare the movies, I would say The Thing is a more faithful adaptation to Who Goes There? Obviously, some situations and tools had to be adapted since technology and science had advanced, but the changes were minimal. So, is The Thing really a remake since it is more faithful to the original story? I'll leave that for you to decide.

After reading the novella, there is a 36 page screenplay written by William F. Nolan, which is his take on the Who Goes There? novella. As many people may know, William Nolan was the author of Logan's Run. This screenplay definitely has the same feel as those old, classic sci fi movies. There is not much in the way of horror in this screenplay. If a movie was created from this screenplay, it would probably be rated PG-13 since most of the scenes where aliens convert humans seem to be cut aways. If there was to be another movie based on the Who Goes There? novella, I hope it would be more of a sci fi movie than a horror movie since I think The Thing still holds up and would be hard to improve on.

So from reading the novella and the screenplay in this book, I really have an appreciation for the original source material. It truly is an incredible piece of writing considering here we are, over 70 years later, and people can still find ways to take the original story and put a modern spin on it. I am amazed at how flexible and influential Who Goes There? is. It has influenced so many of the movies we have seen over time. I would recommend this novella to sci fi movie and book fans so they can appreciate how influential this story is for themselves.
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on April 2, 2012
Good story, but when I read the product description I was under the impression that this was a short story collection, but it is not, it's just the novella 'Who Goes There'. It's not even 256 pages like it says in the product description. It's more like a hundred+ pages. So u get a good novella, but that's it.
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on August 9, 2000
I first read this short book back in 1960, when I was ten. Coming off of Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, this one grabbed me by the short hairs and dangled me above the floor. Then someone told me they had made a movie of it. You can't imagine how disappointed I was to see James Arness as a humanoid plant. What riles me more is how John Carpenter's remake was lambasted by both the critics and the director of the previous film for its excessive violence. Carpenter had only remained faithful to the original novella. For fifties-era SF, this was not your typical pre-teen reading, and it still packs a strong punch even today.
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on October 1, 2002
I worked backwards through "The Thing" stories. I remember as a young kid in the 60's watching Howard Hawk's A Thing From Another World. I had a much older brother who had a color TV who I spent Saturday nights with. We had 3 great "Creature Feature" tv shows for about 6 hours each Saturday. I got to see all the great classic Sci-Fi movies, and Hawk's Thing was a favorite.
I had just been commissioned an Ensign in the Navy in '82 when Carpenter's Thing came out. I loved it. I then didn't get to see the movie again for another 12 years. Finally, with my own boys, I found both movies on VHS. Scared the hell out of my boys. Both are now avid Sci-Fi / Horror fans.
Enter 2002. Now there is a video game, based on a proposed sequel to the 82 movie. It starts off where the movie ends. It is an odd game, but very enjoyable. I found Campbell's novella at a game site. Was it really written in 1934/37? The storytelling is very good for that vintage. Like EE "Doc" Smith, some of Campbell's vision was extraordinary. I love reading the historical, genre-defining early Sci-Fi stories. I think any fan of the movies and or the new game will love this story. It is a quick read, and an amazing story coming out of the '30s.
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on February 10, 2012
As a fan of the movies; '51 and '84, it was interesting to read the basis; anyone who has watched both will note the major differences in plot structure from the book, and each other, but major details from the book in both. ('51 with more accurate portrayl of the find, and '84 is better on characters and the rest.)
Overall, I was a tad dissapointed in the price for a single short story; I did not realize they put reviews from a collection in with this one. (I was expecting several short stories.) But I did enjoy the read.
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