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Locating the thing: The Antarctic as alien space in John W. Campbell's 'Who Goes There?'


Leane, E, Locating the thing: The Antarctic as alien space in John W. Campbell's 'Who Goes There?', Science Fiction Studies, 32, (2) pp. 225-239. ISSN 0091-7729 (2005) [Refereed Article]

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Many pulp sf writers of the early- to mid-twentieth century seized upon Antarctica as an appropriately remote and unearthly site for their magazine stories. This article focuses on one of the most famous, John W. Campbell’s "Who Goes There?", first published in Astounding Science-Fiction in 1938, and adapted for film as The Thing in 1951 and 1982. In Campbell’s tale, an Antarctic expedition is devastated by a monstrous alien creature found frozen in the ice. While "Who Goes There?" has often been the subject of critical interest, the significance of its location has not been explored in any detail. In this article, I show how a reading focused on space and place can find new meanings in this often-examined text. Drawing on Julia Kristeva’s psychoanalytic theory of the abject, cultural geographer Yi-Fu Tuan’s notion of "alien space," and a number of fictional and nonfictional Antarctic narratives, I argue that the Thing at the center of Campbell’s text serves as an embodiment of the continent itself.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Language, Communication and Culture
Research Group:Literary studies
Research Field:Popular and genre literature
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Communication
Objective Field:Literature
UTAS Author:Leane, E (Professor Elizabeth Leane)
ID Code:37887
Year Published:2005
Web of Science® Times Cited:6
Deposited By:English, Journalism and European Languages
Deposited On:2005-08-01
Last Modified:2012-03-05
Downloads:10 View Download Statistics

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