I shared my flesh with thinking cancer
January 4, 2010 12:27 PM   Subscribe

The Things - The Thing from the point of view of the thing, by Peter Watts (previously, previously, previously)
posted by Artw (49 comments total) 65 users marked this as a favorite

 
Also available in audio from the Clarksword homepage.
posted by Artw at 12:32 PM on January 4, 2010


Thank god he didn't add bits with Jane Austen characters.
posted by roger ackroyd at 1:02 PM on January 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


That was very good.
posted by Ratio at 1:16 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is theoretically a copyright violation, and is a pretty compelling argument for the value of public domain, because theis is a hell of a retelling of a story created by somebody else that manages to create something new and excellent.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:20 PM on January 4, 2010


That's really good. The Thing is one of my favorite movies.

Unfortunately, a prequel is in the works.
posted by brundlefly at 1:24 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's really good. The Thing is one of my favorite movies.
posted by brundlefly at 4:24 AM on January 5 [+] [!]


Really. You wouldn't happen to enjoy any other biomass transformation movies that you could recommend would you?
posted by FuManchu at 1:29 PM on January 4, 2010 [13 favorites]


Astro Zombie: This is theoretically a copyright violation, and is a pretty compelling argument for the value of public domain, because theis is a hell of a retelling of a story created by somebody else that manages to create something new and excellent.

I'm not sure it is. Who Goes There? was published in 1938 and I don't see a record of its copyright being renewed in the Stanford Copyright Renewal Database.
posted by MikeHarris at 1:31 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


whoof. that is one hell of a story. that last line. jesus.
posted by shmegegge at 1:33 PM on January 4, 2010


Thanks ! The Thing is one of my favorites movies as well. One could almost feel sorry for the creature. Almost.
Was an interesting perspective on the story, with some interesting theories. I was too fond of Keith David to ever think he could be a thing... he's way too badass. Though, I haven't read many theories on the movie... maybe everyone but me thinks Childs was one.
But, if all of you thought that, you'd all attack me right now. So that means that some of you must still be human.....
I digress.
posted by mostlybecky at 1:41 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


There's nothing like Watts to bring out the old spinal-shiver revulsion reaction. Whoo!
posted by Fraxas at 1:45 PM on January 4, 2010


Looks like Watts has had the idea for a while and blogged about it a couple of times:

Cancer, For the Greater Good

You Light Up My Life/Missionary Position (very short early passes)

There's some mention of possible copyright problems here, but nothing specific. I think he may have said that it wasn't really a problem in this podcast, but I haven't got audio just right now so I can't say for sure.
posted by Artw at 1:47 PM on January 4, 2010


Now I can't wait to get home to read this. I love Watts and I love The Thing.
posted by chairface at 1:49 PM on January 4, 2010


I'm not sure it is. Who Goes There? was published in 1938 and I don't see a record of its copyright being renewed in the Stanford Copyright Renewal Database.

All the names are from there, though the shoggoth like nature of The Thing is pretty clearly Carpenter.
posted by Artw at 1:50 PM on January 4, 2010


This is awesome.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:50 PM on January 4, 2010


A great take on one of favorite movies of all time. And yes, that last line, OOF!
posted by Scoo at 1:54 PM on January 4, 2010


Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers) about Fan Fiction
posted by Artw at 2:02 PM on January 4, 2010


Up with this sort of Thing.
posted by Eideteker at 2:04 PM on January 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


Still working my way through it, but (SPOILER QUESTION) shouldn't the creatures discoveries have all occurred in the Norwegian camp? The only way the realizations don't happen until the movie is if the first dog that we saw was an early break-off -- the rest of the Thing alerted and destroyed a camp full of men without it being involved?

A great movie read-along, but it gets stuck trying to explain what happened (or rather ignoring what would have happened) prior.
posted by FuManchu at 2:06 PM on January 4, 2010


For that matter, the talk about helicopters makes it clear that this is from the POV of John Carpenter's movie, not the original story (Who Goes There).
posted by fings at 2:08 PM on January 4, 2010


Oh, THAT Peter Watts.
Thank God Cory was powerful enough to rescue him with a single phone call.
Otherwise he'd still be in jail.
posted by Ratio at 2:17 PM on January 4, 2010


Peter Watts is consistently great, but he also scares me a little. I can't think of any other author who so consistently manages to put the reader into a state of deep understanding of the utterly, horribly alien. Lovecraft can describe (or rather, not describe) those things, as can some others, but Watts somehow forces them to make sense to you, and in the process, the things you think of as normal and take for given seem a little bit more alien. He did it a little bit with the Behemoth stories, and went full-on for it with Blindsight, both the "vampires" and the aliens, and he does it again here.

I feel like I'm staring into the abyss when I read his stuff. So scary, yet so awesome (in both senses of the word).
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:27 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I also kind of liek that though people will complain about the movie being a bit of a dudefest this story is kind of Tiptree-esque.
posted by Artw at 2:39 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I searched through this story for references to Clobberin' Time or the Yancy Street Gang to no avail. I am so disappointed.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:56 PM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


An excellent story, but I wonder if it would make a damn bit of sense if I hadn't seen the movie a thousand times. This may or may not be a flaw.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:03 PM on January 4, 2010


Peter Watts is one of my favorite author discoveries last year. I very vaguely remember hearing about the Rifters series being made available Creative Commons-wise, but am pretty sure that the mention of BoingBoing made me assume it was all about open-source papercrafting making an origami singularity. Anyway, last year was when I happily had that vague assumption corrected, and thank goodness.

I now want to see this used as the basis of an alternate audio track to the movie.
posted by Drastic at 3:12 PM on January 4, 2010


Holy crap the Swedes are trying to shoot that dog.... wait, there's no way a dog could run that far with a helicopter chasing it. KILL IT WITH FIRE!!!
*poke poke* Geez, what was that thing?
posted by Smedleyman at 4:05 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also: Beowulf from the monster's point of view.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 4:14 PM on January 4, 2010


I am Jack's complete lack of surprise.
posted by tybeet at 4:31 PM on January 4, 2010


That was fun, but didn't answer the question I was hoping it would: what, exactly, does The Thing see when it thing-shaves in the thing-mirror each morning before going to thing-work?
posted by steef at 4:46 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Isn't the Thing calling human brains "thinking cancer" a bit of the pot calling the kettle black?
posted by ooga_booga at 5:45 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


That reminds me I watched part of The Thing from Another World recently and I need to back and watch the rest of it.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:51 PM on January 4, 2010


Nicely done. One thing (among many) that I love about Carpenter's Thing is that the alien is so alien. We have no idea what it is or if it's intelligent or just a some sort of alien cancer. Most movie conceptions of aliens are just humans in masks. Even the ten-foot high blue people in Avatar still had ten fingers on their hands and ten toes on their blue feet.
posted by octothorpe at 6:24 PM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


This line towards the end reminds of Rumi quite strongly ( for no reason I can cite ):
I volunteered to feed the prisoner and came to myself when the world wasn't watching.
Thanks for the link-
posted by localhuman at 6:44 PM on January 4, 2010


Right on, Octothorpe.

I love that kind of suspense, because if you were there, by the time you actually see it, you're pretty much screwed anyway. That's the kind of fear Lovecraft really did well. The writers of The Thing did Lovecraft, without having to be Lovecraft.

What ruins fear in films far too often for me is too much 'showing', and not enough 'unknowing,' if that makes any sense.
posted by chambers at 7:21 PM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, THAT Peter Watts.
Thank God Cory was powerful enough to rescue him with a single phone call.
Otherwise he'd still be in jail.


Oh sweet lawdy boingboing has reader comments now? This is like christmas again and again! *scurries off*
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:32 PM on January 4, 2010


Holy crap, that story was amazing! Instead of a Thing prequel they should make a film of this. I can't think of any films that explore the depths of a completely alien intelligence like this story does. Solaris comes sort of close, but it's more about humanity's reaction in the face of such a foreign sentience. I'm off to the bookstore to pick up some of Watts' other work. Thanks for the link!
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 10:05 PM on January 4, 2010


turgid dahlia: "Oh sweet lawdy boingboing has reader comments now? This is like christmas again and again! *scurries off*"

jst b vry crfl wht y sy.
posted by mwhybark at 10:06 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


That was a fucking great story, Artw, thanks for the link.
posted by mediareport at 10:35 PM on January 4, 2010


Thanks for posting, that was good.

Although it's not directly related to The Thing or Watts' story, if you liked The Thing you might also enjoy The Autopsy by Michael Shea.
posted by various at 12:39 AM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Even the ten-foot high blue people in Avatar still had ten fingers on their hands and ten toes on their blue feet.

Only the human grown ones, the real ones had 8 fingers and 8 toes (the more you know!).

... why yes, I have seen it twice.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 3:18 AM on January 5, 2010


Only the human grown ones, the real ones had 8 fingers and 8 toes (the more you know!).

I didn't notice that but my comment still stands that they really aren't any more believably alien than Klingons or Wookies.
posted by octothorpe at 4:44 AM on January 5, 2010


They still had fingers on their hands and toes on their feet. Not suckers on their pseudopods or something.
posted by luftmensch at 5:38 AM on January 5, 2010


That was a pretty enjoyable piece of reading there.
posted by DWRoelands at 6:10 AM on January 5, 2010


Greatly enjoyed that.

But didn't the canon ending include, right before the credits, a shot of a dog running away from the camp after they blew it up? If so, seems the thing should have mentioned it in this story.

Also, it would have been cool to see a nod toward the teeth changing shape from one scene to the next in the heart attack sequence. :-)
posted by lord_wolf at 9:19 AM on January 5, 2010


Next up: E.T.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:20 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


lord_wolf: "But didn't the canon ending include, right before the credits, a shot of a dog running away from the camp after they blew it up? If so, seems the thing should have mentioned it in this story."

In the movie? No. Blair kills all of the dogs before he starts smashing up the radio equipment.

The only visible living things (heh) at the end were Mac and Childs.

shakespeherian: "Next up: E.T."

As long as it's in a hard-boiled detective voice.
posted by brundlefly at 9:28 AM on January 5, 2010



In the movie? No. Blair kills all of the dogs before he starts smashing up the radio equipment.


Huh. Where did I see that then? I know I'm not confusing it with the dog running from the Norwegian camp, because it's definitely a shot of a dog looking back at the remains of the American camp then running off into the endless snow as the camera pulls back...then, roll credits. Is there an alt. ending on the DVD? Or is my imagination that damn good? :-)
posted by lord_wolf at 10:34 AM on January 5, 2010


Ah ha! From the Wikipedia entry:
After its cinema run, the film was released on video and laserdisc, and a re-edited version was created for television by TBS and Universal Studios. The edited version was heavily cut to reduce gore, violence and profanity; additionally it featured a narrator during the opening sequence (in the same manner as the original 1951 film), a voiceover during Blair's computer-assisted study, and an alternate ending. In the alternate ending, a "Thing" which has mimicked one of the sled dogs looks back at the burning camp at dawn before continuing on into the Antarctic wilderness.[12]
I've never seen this TV edit. Thanks for the heads up, lord_wolf!
posted by brundlefly at 10:38 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


After its cinema run, the film was released on video and laserdisc, and a re-edited version was created for television by TBS and Universal Studios. The edited version was heavily cut to reduce gore, violence and profanity; additionally it featured a narrator during the opening sequence (in the same manner as the original 1951 film), a voiceover during Blair's computer-assisted study, and an alternate ending. In the alternate ending, a "Thing" which has mimicked one of the sled dogs looks back at the burning camp at dawn before continuing on into the Antarctic wilderness.[12]

Heh, I never knew there was a TV version and that they even added an alternate ending. Why would anyone want to do that?

As for the story, great work. Always fun to see things from a fresh perspective ;)
posted by wet-raspberry at 10:49 AM on January 5, 2010


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