Month: March 2014
Who Goes There? (The Thing) by John W. Campbell
Originally published by John W. Campbell as a novella in the August 1938 edition of the magazine Astounding Science-Fiction under the pen name Don A. Stuart, “Who Goes There?” spawned the body horror fiction subgenre and three versions of the movie The Thing. The plot is familiar to millions of fans of the 1982 John Carpenter film. Campbell pioneered the concept of an alien creature that invades and assimilates human hosts and then kills them as it jumps from host to host. The story’s theme has been replicated in dozens of movies and books from horror classics like The Blob and The Fly to zombie apocalypses. “Who Goes There?” is arguably the granddaddy of them all.
Campbell’s story is timeless. Its narrative is filled with scientific theories and observations about human behaviors still valid eight decades later. Some of the technology and language he used is dated, but much of the plot is relevant and has been retold in other tales of horror both modern and classic. The ending in this story is different from what The Thing movie fans would expect, but the characters like the pilot, MacReady, are all too familiar.
“Who Goes There?” deserves five stars and is a must-read for anyone who enjoys science fiction, horror, and contemporary classic literature.
Who Goes There? (The Thing) is now available at:
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products
By Nir Eyal with Ryan Hoover
Author Nir Eyal synthesized and dispensed some of the best work from his website into this great book on consumer behavior and building products that encourage their usage. Organized into chapters that break down basic human habits and responses in a theoretical way, it offers concrete examples of organizations that are now among the most successful at building habit-forming products. Its Hook Model is an easy-to-understand method for applying complex concepts related to human behavior and responses to business applications. Although focused largely on the technology sector, the ideas the author presents are applicable to any company or individual looking to build something better.
Mr. Eyal’s book itself is a habit-forming product. He leaves the reader with a memorable model that they can use in their own businesses and encourages them to return to his website for more insights. Not many theory books take applicability to the level Mr. Eyal’s does. I appreciated his sincere caution that the Hook Model be used for positive ends and acknowledgement that it can be used to foster addictions.
This relatively short book is a great road map that points the reader in the right direction to build great products but may not go far enough for some. It will also be dated in a year or two when today’s “hot” companies become passé. Nevertheless, his theories on human behavior may well prove timeless.
I give the book five stars and highly recommend it to anyone looking to design better content, goods, or services.
Hooked is now available at: