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Who Goes There is a Science Fiction novella written by John W. Campbell. It was published under the pen name Don A. Stuart in 1938 in the magazine Astounding Stories. It is probably best known as the inspiration for the 1951 movie The Thing from Another World, and the 1982 John Carpenter movie, The Thing.
The story follows a group of scientific researchers in Antarctica who stumble upon an alien life form. In the novella (and the John Carpenter film) the alien has the ability to assume the identity, memories, and mannerisms of the humans. The novella is written as a sort of Whodunnit thriller, though the mystery in question isn't Whodunnit, as much as it's Who's an alien.
This novella provides examples of:
- Alien Blood: The greatest weakness in the creature's disguise is that its blood, once separated from the body, is a separate organism with its own instinct for self-preservation.
- An Axe to Grind
- Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: People repeatedly make the mistake of assuming that you can't be a Thing if you attack a Thing.
- As You Know
- Badass Beard: McReady, Van Wall the pilot.
- Blob Monster: The Thing works like one in that it engulfs, digests, and absorbs its prey.
- Call Back: When Kinner is screaming prayers until his voice goes hoarse, MacReady comments he must think God can't hear well. At the end, he reverses this: yes, God can hear them quite well.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: The Thing plays on the expectations of the researchers by acting in ways that seem self-destructive, but actually further its goals in the long run.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: Norris' nightmares. Turns out he's just picking up on The Thing's thoughts.
- Dissonant Laughter / Laughing Mad: happens to almost everybody.
- Do Wrong Right: "Boys, meet Clark, the only one we know is human--by trying to commit murder and failing."
- Fake Static: Commander Garry and Copper discuss whether or not to invoke this, together with Apocalyptic Log, if it becomes necessary to ward off a rescue attempt.
- Faking the Dead: Kinner.
- Genre Savvy: Aside from thawing The Thing out in the first place, everyone is extremely rational about the situation, possible consequences, and lines of action. Death By Pragmatism is completely averted.
- A House Divided: Once it becomes clear that anyone could be the alien, the bickering starts.
- Incendiary Exponent: The alien's spaceship is made of magnesium-alloy metal. It reacts...poorly... to the thermite-based attempts to defrost it.
- Just Think of the Potential: MacReady laments having accidentally destroyed the alien's spaceship. They get hold of some alien tech in the end, however.
- Kill It with Fire: The initial attempts to kill The Thing using a blowtorch; and then later, the bodies.
- The Leader: McReady is this, even though he's technically second-in-command to Commander Garry.
- Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: Blair.
- Lost in Character: The Things.
Garry spoke in a low, bitter voice. "Connant was one of the finest men we had here—and five minutes ago I'd have sworn he was a man. Those damnable things are more than imitation." Garry shuddered and sat back in his bunk.
And thirty seconds later, Garry's blood shrank from the hot platinum wire.
- Mysterious Antarctica: The setting for the novella. The Carpenter movie also uses Antarctica, but the 1951 movie uses the North Pole.
- Thirty-Five Little Murder Victims: The extreme cold outside forces the researchers into close proximity where they can all see each other easier, but the creature can also assimilate them easier.
- Pan-Up-To-The-Sky Ending: Combines with The End - or Is It?, as The Blair-Thing is killed, but there is a possibility another Thing might have been in the body of an early albatross that the heroes saw flying north.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Thing has three of them, and a murderous Death Glare. The characters are majorly creeped out long before it comes back to life.
- Redheaded Hero: MacReady.
- Red Herring
- Shock and Awe: the best way of permanently killing The Thing is electricity, high voltage, for as long as it takes.
- The Stoic
- Voluntary Shapeshifting