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Book Review: Frozen Hell by John W. Campbell Jr.

There are a lot of great sci-fi stories out there, many of which are legendary. And John W. Campbell Jr.'s Who Goes There? certainly fits that bill.

Not familiar with the title? Well, how about The Thing from Another World and John Carpenter's The Thing? Totally know those movies? Of course you do.

Both flicks are adaptations of Campbell's 1938 novella about an Antarctic research expedition that encounters an alien in the ice. When they thaw out the creature, it begins to take them over one by one, imitating each perfectly. What transpires is an exercise in paranoia and tension.

Being a fan of both films, it was intriguing to finally read Campbell's story. All the groundwork for the movies is there, including some of the dialogue. Sure, you can tell the story was written in the 1930s. The language is pulpy and a bit wordy at times, but it's easy to see why the tale is a classic one. Campbell is an excellent writer.

But wait, you say? The book is called Frozen Hell, not Who Goes There? What's up with that? Well, Frozen Hell includes the original version of Campbell's story, which was 45 pages longer and actually called Frozen Hell. The additional material was recently discovered among some of Campbell's old documents, and inserted back into the story.

Frozen Hell is an interesting look at a celebrated author's work, and an examination of one man's writing process. It's also a great way to revisit a classic story that's become very hard to find. It's a Good, and I recommend for fans.


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