Garbage Collector

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Who Goes There ?

Who Goes There ?
Β© 1938, John W. Campbell - Β© 2020, le BΓ©lial’ (French Edition)

Who Goes There ? is a 1938 science fiction horror book written by John W. Campbell. This novella got movies adaptation such as the famous John Carpenter’s The Thing in 1982. In French, the novel is entitled La Chose, which is the translation for “The Thing”. The actual title may translated by “Qui va lΓ  ?” in French.

A group of Americans researchers are living in a scientific station in Antartica, near the end of the Winter. They discovered an alien spaceship buried in the ice crashed twenty millions years ago. While trying to excavate the ship using thermite explosive, they accidentally ignited the magnesium-based ship hull and destroyed it. However, they managed to recover a creature which was on board, an alien entity whose appearance is hideous and makes the crew uncomfortable. In front of this historical discovery, the scientists try to unfroze the creature. But they’ll discover it’s still alive.

I think I’ve seen Carpenter’s movie once. But it’s been a while and I barely remember it. So I was curious to discover the original story behind it anyway. Who Goes There ? is a short story of less than 90 pages. It’s a closed-doors story in which the characters already had few intimacy in this scientific station, and following the discovery and the escape of The Thing, they have less. We encounter there some classics of horror : closed doors and characters becoming paranoid because of the shape-shifting and telepathic abilities of The Thing.

It’s a story that goes pretty fast actually, with several time jump and sometimes I’ve had some difficulties to follow the line. Actually, this novella was the shortened version of a longer book never published by Campbell. The manuscript has been discovered and thanks to a kickstarter campaign, released in 2019. It doesn’t seem to have been translated in French. Despite it’s short length, I’ve enjoyed the growing suspicious atmosphere and the final plot twist. In fact, this novella was a very influent one because you find here some very common places seen in horror stories. A nice reading.

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