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:
On Writing by Stephen King
A fellow writer recommended Stephen King’s book on writing cum personal memoir as a staple for anyone who wants to be a successful writer. Who better than one of the most successful novelists of all time to share his valuable insights on writing to a budding writer?
His book begins with a series of personal stories King shares from his childhood that crescendo to his early years as a novelist. His anecdotes are insightful, humorous, and showcase his easy-on-the-eyes writing style that has made him a literary “King.” The book abruptly switches half way through to his general thoughts on writing and best practices for the would-be author. I appreciated his practical advice caveated with the understanding what worked for him might not be the best approach in every situation. While dedicated writers pay lip service to the noble goal of writing 2,000 words a day and reading more than 80 books a year, many find it challenging to adhere to King’s formula by spending dinnertime reading books.
King ends the book recounting his near-fatal accident in 1999. The touching story written to perfection by the master tugged at my heart strings when he described his miraculous recovery and struggle to write again. I had wondered about the abrupt change in tone from storyteller to writing instructor when I read the first half of the book and realized that On Writing was King’s first book after the accident. He was under contract to write it and admitted how difficult it was for a novelist who dreaded nonfiction to write. Suddenly, it made sense. The book itself is an encouragement to writers to stop complaining about everything that distracts them from writing and to start writing. If King could write this piece months after a debilitating accident, there’s no reason any writer of sound mind and body couldn’t write one of their own with far fewer limitations.
I recommend this book to any writer or Stephen King fan who hasn’t read it yet and give it 4 stars. It may not have the suspense of his fiction novels, but it does have spark – from an electrical experiment gone wrong.
On Writing is now available at: