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Locating the Thing: The Antarctic as Alien Space in John W. Campbell's 'Who Goes There'

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posted on 2023-05-26, 09:16 authored by Elizabeth LeaneElizabeth Leane
Critics interested in concepts of space and place in science fiction in recent years have often been drawn to what Scott Bukatman has termed the alien terrain " of cyberspace. There are however equally alien spaces in the sf canon that have been largely ignored by the critics relegated to the status of "settings " because they are not explicitly foregrounded in the texts. This article concentrates on on classic sf story showing how a reading focused on space and place can find new meanings in what might be considered a well-minded if not exhausted text. The text is John W. Campbell's 1938 story "Who Goes There? " and its "setting " is Antarctica. Drawing on earlier fictional and nonfictional narratives of the South Polar regions cultural geographer Yi-Fu Tuan's notion of "alien space " and Julia Kristeva's concept of the abject I will argue that in "Who Goes There? " the disturbing spatial characteristics of Antarctica are displace onto the alien Thing found embedded in the ice."


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Science Fiction Studies



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  • Published

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Copyright 2005 SF-TH Inc

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