Reading rec: Peter Watts’ “The Things” (2010)

It’s been a busy week, what with final edits on my next work before release, plus I’m writing for a competition that ends this month. When it’s busy, it’s hard to find the time to sit down and read, so I thought I’d give a reading recommendation for those moments when you want to read, but don’t have much time to dedicate.

John Carpenter's The Thing (1982)Do you like horror? (I’ll assume you like science fiction since you’re already here.) Well, remember 1982’s The Thing? That classic John Carpenter horror film and how utterly terrifying and perfect it was? (If you haven’t guessed, it’s a favorite of mine and a film I plan to return to for my first contact series.)

Well, if you love that film as much as I do, you have to check out “The Things” by Peter Watts. As terrifying and perfect as The Thing was, this short story is just as good and an excellent companion piece to the movie. Written from the perspective of the Thing in the 1982 film, the story explores the being’s motivations and the rationale behind its attacks and absorption of the men. “The Things” was a 2011 Hugo Award Nominee, 2010 BFSA Award Finalist, 2010 Shirley Jackson Award Winner, 2011 Finalist for The Locus Award for Best Short Story, and 2011 Theodore Sturgeon Award Nominee. With all that official recognition, you’d surely expect something that will knock your socks off and, believe you me, “The Things” won’t disappoint. The ending gives me chills, with a final line so memorable I typed it into Google verbatim when I was searching for the story even though I had last read it a few years ago.

Convinced yet? You can find Peter Watts’ “The Things” hosted on Clarkesworld Magazine online in both text and audio format. And if you like it as much as I do, you can get it for keeps in Clarkesworld Magazine Issue 40 or the Clarkesworld: Year Four collection.

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