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Friday, February 3, 2017

Who Goes There? (The Thing)

Author: John W. Campbell (includes an introduction and the original screen treatment by William F. Nolan)

Published: Rocket Ride Books (2009) (originally published 1938 in Astounding Science Fiction)

Paperback 168 pages

Finished 2/3/2017

Amazon Listing               




 
          "The room stiffened abruptly. It was face up there on the plain, greasy planks of the table. The broken half of the bronze ice-axe   was still buried in the queer skull. Three mad, hate-filled eyes blazed up with a living fire, bright as fresh-filled blood from a face ringed with a writhing, loathsome nest of worms, blue, mobile worms that crawled where hair should grow-"
          This classic novella about a shape-shifting alien monster discovered by an isolated outpost in Antarctica, who comes back to life and begins to wreak havoc among the crew. It was the basis for 1951 Howard Hawk film The Thing From Another World, as well as John Carpenter’s 1982 The Thing and its prequel from 2011 of the same name.
          It is an incredibly readable novella, even close to 80 years after its initial publication, it effectively brings out the fear, claustrophobia, and paranoia of a group of men being stalked by a monster with abilities they can barely comprehend. Even though I knew the ending, I was on the edge of seat rereading this story. It grips you in a very personal and real way.
          Included with the story is the original screenplay by William F. Nolan, the author of another classic sci-fi novel Logan’s Run (Yes, it was a book first). In the late 70s he was approached to create a treatment that adhered closer to the original text. The main aspect the producers wanted added was to reintroduce the monster’s shapeshifting ability, which was not included in the 50’s version, probably due to budgetary considerations. It was eventually shelved.
          The screenplay is an interesting read, essentially a third adaptation of the story. However I’m not sure that it would have made a better story than John Carpenter’s 1982 version. In fact I doubt it would have. It would have been perhaps the most faithful version of the three.

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