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.