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Who Goes There?

The Novella That Formed the Basis of 'THE THING'
Narrated by: Steve Cooper
Length: 2 hrs and 36 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (151 ratings)

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Summary

Who Goes There?, the novella that formed the basis of the film The Thing, is the John W. Campbell classic about an antarctic research camp that discovers and thaws the ancient body of a crash-landed alien.

©1966 John W. Campbell (P)2009 Rocket Ride Books

Critic reviews

“John W. Campbell is the most powerful force in science fiction ever.” (Isaac Asimov)
"One of the finest science fiction novellas ever written." (Science Fiction Writers of America)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

You're a dead man McReady!

The origin to one of my all time favourite films.

Written well and unfolds at a good pace, some may struggle with the style being from the 1930's but I didn't find this an issue.

I would say overall I prefer the film but there is a great story here that is performed really well by the narrator. I also enjoyed the intro that gave the history of the book and its adaptations.

If you like the movie or are just a fan of Sci-Fi and literature written before the whole "woke" movement ruined everything, pick this one up

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful if a little talky

Great book especially if you're a fan of the Carpenter movie - you can really see just how great an adaptation that film is.

Story starts at a spritely pace and barrels on from there. It is perhaps a little overflowing with adjectives at first but the tone settles down. My only (other) criticism would be there's a lot of time spent with characters standing around talking about what's happening - it's a lot but don't let that put you off. The characters are clear and well defined and the science in the fiction is surprisingly resonant. The audible reading is fantastic. Short two and a bit hours of sci-fi / horror goodness.

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Wonderful simple story that works so effectively.

Such a good story that dives into the paranoia of man in a very isolated place. If you enjoy the movie you'll love it but in no way is one piece dependant on it's counter part. Perfection of short story telling.

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Classic.

Familiar story but only because it had success. A short listen, but worth while to see history of sci-fi

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Old School Hard Sci Fi

The first thing you have to note is that this story is from 1938. It has all the problems that entails. Language feels less naturalistic. Characters are a bit samey and drawn in broader strokes with less nuance and development, and as it's a short story there isn't much time to change that. Some of the ideas inherent and unquestioned in the story (an all male arctic outpost for example) would be totally accurate and expected, not even drawing a comment back then. Now those things may seem a little odd.

Those are the negatives and they are all because it was written over 80 years ago.

The positives far outweigh those negatives.

The use of science and medicine wouldn't stand up for anyone knowledgable in those fields, but definitely place the story in sci-fi rather than space opera territory.

The central concept seems fresh and original even though it has been copied countless times.

The John Carpenter film version of "The Thing" is an amazing film and captures so much of the book that I was surprised by just how much of the book made it into the film. His approach was to (brilliantly) focus on the physical horror of "The Thing".

This story has those elements but felt to me to focus more on the psychological horror of what was happening. In tone it's more like the 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers. In fact that is one of my favourite films, but after listening to this book I have to say that "Who Goes There?" probably captures the feeling of helplessness and paranoia even better than the film and certainly better than the book on which it was based. Maybe the 1978 version of Invasion would have been a better comparison.

Either way...if you can get past the problems this is an excellent, thought provoking, well done scary story.

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good but parts missing

seems to jump through certain chapters missing parts out.... other than that, good story and narration

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Chilling

Narrated well but it would be hard not to tell this story well! its excellent listen full of twists and turns in a brilliant setting. its The Thing, but set way before John Carpenter envisioned it.

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Explains more than the film

Really enjoyed it. It was less visceral than the renowned film but explains a whole other side to the 'thing' while adding a lot more mystery to the story.

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Timeless Classic

excellent story, classic sci-fi. The narrator does a fantastic job. My only gripe is that a few parts seem to jump ahead a bit. If this was fixed it would be an excellent experience.

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Who goes there?

The novella that inspired three movies. The Thing from another world, The Thing and it's 2011 prequel, also called The Thing. The audible version is well read and explains more than all the films put together. Very entertaining!

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  • Old Hippy
  • 03-10-16

Astounding ... Incredible ...

So unbelievably good! Up there with anything from Matheson, Asimov, Clark. Great economy of words, while weaving intense suspense. Makes the two movies that followed feel like pale imitations. Also, terrific narration, gripping.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Joel D Offenberg
  • 21-05-10

An Absolute Classic!

The plot is quite simple: a scientific expedition isolated in Antarctica discovers a long-frozen alien ship, and a long-frozen alien corpse...

"Who Goes There?" is one of the top science-fiction novellas ever published. Well written, carefully thought out plot, (mostly) realistic characters and setting. Although the plot revolves around alien monsters, the interplay of the human characters makes the story very real and very well-balanced.

In addition to being a great story in itself, many of the themes and concepts have crept into many places in sci-fi and horror. The 1950's movie, "The Thing," and John Carpenter's later remake, are (loosely) based on "Who Goes There?".

William F. Nolan's narration is good, if a little slowly-paced. He is hampered by the fact that there are about a dozen speaking characters (all men), and making them all sound distinct is rough. I think a professional narrator might have done a better job, but Nolan's narration is more than acceptable.

The audiobook edition opens with a 6-or-7 minute introduction written by the narrator which provides background on Campbell, the story and "The Thing." Useful, but longer than needed.

36 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Todd (Toad) Vogel
  • 10-10-16

Pretty cool

I love old sci-fi! I had never heard of this one before. Apparently it was quite popular. Although it's an older story it still holds up quite well today!

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Noe
  • 13-01-11

Scary arctic adventure - great narration.

I was so glad to see this wonderful story finally available in audio. An intelligent, frightening, and engaging tale of the discovery of an E.T. frozen in the arctic. And, of course, the "thing" is neither completely dead nor very friendly ... A pioneering early SF story that has been imitated many times but is a refreshing listen in its original form, especially with a wonderful narration by Steve Cooper. Bravo, Audible, for bringing this to audio!!!

20 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • AudioAddict
  • 25-02-16

Classic Sci-Fi Novella. Good, Not Great.

STORY (alien sci-fi) - As the summary mentions, this books is about a frozen alien which is thawed by members of an arctic science expedition. Oops.

There is lots that is good about this story -- the way the alien was discovered, its unique traits and the way it tries to survive and grow. The scientists have a monster on their hands, and they must figure how to contain it and keep it from spreading to the populated world. The story is suspenseful and ends well. My biggest complaint is rooted is that I was underwhelmed by the description of the creature itself. I just couldn't get into a blue wormy alien with three red eyes. I guess I'm spoiled by the "advancement" of alien monsters over the last 70 years.

PERFORMANCE - I have no real complaints about the performance, but there is nothing spectacular about it either.

OVERALL - This reads like a B-movie, but it's still entertaining. No cursing or horrific gore. Just a scary monster that turns people against each other and causes death and mayhem. Not recommended for young children, obviously, but recommended for males/females who like sci-fi.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Bette
  • 22-05-11

Wonderful story!

This is a great preamble for those who have not watched The Thing or The Thing From Another World. Or those who have to give you greater insight. It's amazing how this story is so ahead of its time and how it still holds one enthralled. A great, tight little SF thriller that will hold your interest until the end. Highly recommended!

15 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Nate
  • 26-09-19

Great little SCI-FI pulp!

If you're at all a fan of the John Carpenter movie this is a must listen. This short story does not go in depth into the various characters as in the film; but feels more like a very detailed campfire story or 1-shot comic book

Its only about 2 hours long so you'll be able to get through it in a single sitting.

The narrator gives an excellent performance and never once becomes annoying or repetitive. Steve Cooper, Sci-fi writer himself, makes you feel the madness creeping into the camp as the scientists attempt to discover who among them is "The Thing."

This short story was recently found out to be a short version of a larger story John W Campbell had been working on. Found in a box of manuscripts Campbell had previously sent to Harvard University. The Manuscripts were collected and published in 2018 under the title "Frozen Hell." Any fan of "Who Goes There" any of the various "The Thing" movies or H.P. Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness" should check it out.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jim "The Impatient"
  • 30-07-11

Classic

This is a classic and is recommended by "Must Read 501, Sci Fi" This was written in 1938 and you should keep that in mind when reading it. I believe three movies have been made from this Novella. This is about an alien ship that lands on earth before man even exists. The ship gets buried in Antarctica. Each and every cell in the alien body is an entity in itself and can duplicate other living beings. If one cell escapes and gets into our population then it will take over the world. The whole concept of this story is just so freaking cool.

31 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • bet
  • 19-11-14

great idea, bettered by Carpenter.

Any additional comments?

This is a classic story done several times in the film format, and not always successfully.

I found it funny that the intro criticizes Carpenter's screen play, because the things that Carpenter elaborated on (not really changed) were things I felt were missing from the story or didn't quite make sense as far as reactions and timing. Who watches Popeye during a crisis or lets a murderer get off with a slap on the wrist and a 'just don't kill anyone else, ok?" And while, yes...the Carpenter version is a bit gory, the novel version never really 'GOES THERE' if you catch my drift. Characters will walk into a room and say something like "It's messy when they melt." as though they are talking about the snow on their boots....so, Carpenter is head and shoulders above the novel for bringing this original horrific idea to life. Also, his beginning and end are pure genius compared to the novel.

If you are a horror fan, you must of course add this to your 'read' pile - it's well worth it. If you are gonna to watch a film version, stick with the John Carpenter/Kurt Russell vehicle - it's also a classic. And once you read the book, do watch the film - it's great fun, with many a classic line. My absolute favorite, which makes me burst into uncomfortable, stress reliving laughter, every single time, being....

..."I know you gentleman have been through a lot....but when you find the time....I'd rather not spend the rest of the winter...TIED TO THIS F**K**G CHAIR!!!"

It's just done so much better and more sensibly done than the novel! lol.

Enjoy!

13 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Marie from NY
  • 26-02-20

classic 5 stars for a classic

grew up on the 1951 movie The Thing
enjoyed the 80's remake of the movie. i saw in the credits of that movie "based on the story - Who Goes There 1938" by JW Campbell. The story puts both movies to shame.
Cooper captures the characters and the story theme perfectly. I'm there...with the thing....

1 person found this helpful