Who Goes There?

Front Cover
RosettaBooks, Jul 1, 2010 - Fiction - 168 pages
3 Reviews

A distant, remote scientific expedition taking place at the North Pole is invaded by a space alien who has reawakened after lying dormant for centuries after a crash landing. A cunning, intelligent alien who can shape-shift, thereby assuming the personality and form of anything and anyone it destroys. Soon, it is among the men of the expedition, killing each in turn and replacing them by assuming their shape, lulling the scientists one by one into inattention (and trust) and eventually, their destruction. The shape-shifting, transformed alien can pass every effort at detection, and the expedition seems doomed until the scientists discover the secret vulnerability of the alien and are able to destroy it.

ccording to science fiction historian Sam Moskowitz (1920-1997), Who Goes There? had a autobiographical impetus: Campbell’s mother and aunt were identical twins and enjoyed teasing him in a game of substituting one for the other while in his care when they were infants and young children, thereby confusing him again and again with false (switched) identities. Moskowitz theorized that it was this game which lead to uncertainty of identity and clever masquerade which lead to feelings of helplessness and terror that Campbell funneled into what would be his greatest novel. This word is regarded as one of the greatest horror stories to emerge in the field of science fiction writing. It was also the basis for one of the great early science fiction films and its remake decades later.

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About the author (2010)

John W. Campbell graduated both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as Duke in the early 1930s. He believed that at that time there was no work for a young scientist but there was income for a new science fiction writer. To that end, he published short stories and novels in Amazing, the then-leading science fiction magazine, and Astounding, which marked him as the best science fiction writer of his time. However, his writing career essentially ended with the publication of Who Goes There?, which was published in Astounding.

Campbell soon became editor of Astounding, for which he insisted on rigorous standards: humanized characters, a rigorous scientific background, and the best writing possible, comparable to other magazines of the time. With these ideals, Campbell found and launched a whole new generation of writers, among them Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Sprague de Camp, A.E. Van Vogt, Henry Kuttner, Lester del Rey and others who collectively as well as individually produced an extraordinary body of work and legacy.

Almost all of the early science fiction masterpieces that were to be found were published in Astounding in the early 1940s. The later years were not quite as revolutionary as the first; however, this is not to say that Campbell did not make an impact: he continued to bring new work and new writers to the fore and maintain a very high literary standard throughout his tenure at the magazine. As for Campbell himself, he was regarded in his lifetime (and after) as perhaps the greatest science fiction editor of the century.

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