Who Goes There? – book review

The thing is one of the most well known and iconic horror movies out there. And yet, the book, written by John W. Campbell Jr that it was based on is almost never talked about. It’s about time we changed that.

It’s Christmas for many people across the world, so what better to talk about than a snowy nightmare?

A group of researchers isolated in Antarctica come across an interesting discovery. An alien spaceship that has crashlanded on earth millions of years ago, buried beneath the icy depths of the Antarctic. They take the body to their camp and decide to examine it.

While they examine it they find out that it has been frozen for millions of years. The ship which crashed on the Antarctic millions of years ago housed the creature, however, they find out that the current form of the creature was not its true form. In fact, the creature is something resembling a parasite that can mimic its cells to match the form of its victims.

All hell breaks loose as the crew finds out that the creature has in fact escaped and could be any one of them. On top of that during their research one of the members finds out that the creature may have telepathic powers that make it much more dangerous.

The book is a very healthy mix of sci-fi and horror and neither element feels like it is taking over the other. Even though the book was published in 1938 it is commendable that there was so much detail put into the scientific explanations which were presented. It really does not feel like it is almost a hundred years old.

While the Carpenter movie was widely known for its fantastic use of practical effects the book relied heavy on suspense so because of that, I have to say I enjoyed the book much more. It was so tense and claustrophobic and you are just as clueless as the crew is as to who the enemy could be and what would happen to them.

My favorite part is how well it uses the fear of the unknown to reel us in. It is what I feel was lacking the most in the movie. It is so tense and so claustrophobic, really ahead of its time. Although I still really enjoyed it, there were parts that were lacking and felt could have done better and this book does just that.

The only thing that I disliked is that it felt a bit short and it could have been expanded on more (which to be fair may have just been because I was enjoying it a lot and wanted more) but luckily that seems to be exactly the case. It was discovered that there was, in fact, an extended novel and in 2018 with a very successful Kickstarter was funded to release it, the book got released under the name of “Frozen Hell”.

It is a shame that a book that is as influential as this is almost unknown, especially when you consider that it inspired and influenced such well-known movies, but that should be changed. Let’s put a spotlight on it.

All in all, it is a fantastic read that any horror fan should read.

Final verdict: 9/10

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