john-w-campbell

You’ll have nightmares for a year to come. Every night since I looked at that thing I’ve had ‘em, that’s why I hate it – sure I do – and don’t want it around. Put it back where it came from and let it freeze for another twenty million years. I had some swell nightmares – that it wasn’t made like we are – which is obvious – but of a different kind of flesh that it can really control. That it can change its shape, and look like a man – and wait to kill and eat -

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Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell (1938)

The place stank. A queer, mingled stench that only the ice buried cabins of an Antarctic camp know, compounded of reeking human sweat, and the heavy, fish oil stench of melted seal blubber. An overtone of liniment combated the musty smell of sweat-and-snow-drenched furs. The acrid odor of burnt cooking fat, and the animal, not-unpleasant smell of dogs, diluted by time, hung in the air. 

Lingering odors of machine oil contrasted sharply with the taint of harness dressing and leather. Yet, somehow, through all that reek of human beings and their associates - dogs, machines and cooking - came another taint. It was a queer, neck-ruffling thing, a faintest suggestion of an odor alien among the smells of industry and life. And it was a lifesmell. But it came from the thing that lay bound with cord and tarpaulin on the table, dripping slowly, methodically onto the heavy planks, dank and gaunt under the unshielded glare of the electric light. 


This friday I have another great story from the golden age of science fiction. John Campbell was an excellent writer, but he was even more influential as an editor. It was due to his influence that science fiction grew beyond its pulp roots and became a real literature of ideas.

‘Who Goes There’ is a very creepy story that was eventually adapted into 'The Thing’ by John Carpenter.

Today I re-read The Planeteers by John W. Campbell.  It is not good at all but I enjoyed it immensely.

The first story in the book is called “The Brain Stealers of Mars”.  Best title ever, right?  Really, though, the thushol don’t actually steal Penton and Blake’s brains, they just copy their minds.  They’re not so much brain stealers as brain pirates.

And ironically enough, the last story in the book is called “The Brain Pirates”.  But uh… it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with brains or pirates or brain pirates at all?  I’m completely mystified as to what in the nine worlds the title has to do with the story.  Somebody please enlighten me.

EDIT:  Okay, I guess the…  rabbit-monkeys, whatever they were, I have no head for made-up names–I guess they're sort of like brain pirates, with that whole telepathic-invisibility thing.  But man, when I read a story with “Pirates” in the title, I think there ought to be pirates in it.

AMAZING THINGS You Should Know: John W. Campbell Award Nominees

AMAZING THINGS You Should Know: John W. Campbell Award Nominees

The John W. Campbell Award for the best science fiction novel of the year has been presented since 1973 and represents a unique award within the genre;  unlike the Nebula (voted on by the members of SFWA) and the Hugo (voted on by the members of fandom), the John W. Campbell Award is selected by a jury and administered by the Gunn Center for the study of science fiction at the University of…

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