Monday, February 21, 2022

Frozen Hell by John W. Campbell Jr.

Frozen Hell is the original manuscript version of John W. Campbell, Jr.'s, 1938 novella "Who Goes There?"--better known via various filmed versions, The Thing from Another World (1951), John Carpenter's The Thing (1982), and the very similarly plotted prequel, also titled The Thing (2011). This new edition is probably the worst example of shameless exploitation and overhype that I've ever encountered. The Preface attempts (and fails) to add excitement to the discovery of this lost first version (it was found in a library archive, wow). A long Introduction by Robert Silverberg puts the story in context. "Frozen Hell" itself is basically the same as "Who Goes There?" but with three slow and uninteresting extra chapters at the beginning. Padding out this slim volume further are five preview chapters of a proposed sequel, to be written by the publisher, but the writing of this is so filled with cliches of phrasing and of situation that one can only hope that the world is spared from any more. Silverberg aptly notes that Campbell's dropping of the first three chapters was a great improvement.  "Who Goes There?" is worth reading.  This resurrected discarded draft is not. 

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