So the book has an alien ship found in Antarctica in melting ice. There is a part about polished aluminum(?)

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    Hello and welcome to the site! Could you please add some more detail as to help our experts identify the story are you looking for. Take a look at our help center and tour, specifically our Tips for asking Story Identification questions.
    – Skooba
    Feb 9 at 21:50
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    I mean, just off the top of my head, "Who Goes There?" seems to fit the bill...
    – DavidW
    Feb 9 at 21:56
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    @DavidW - I agree. "A group of scientific researchers, isolated in Antarctica by the nearly-ended winter, discover an alien spaceship buried in the ice, where it crashed twenty million years before. They try to thaw the inside of the spacecraft with a thermite charge, but end up accidentally destroying it when the ship's magnesium hull is ignited by the charge"
    – Valorum
    Feb 9 at 22:07

1 Answer 1


The hull is magnesium, not aluminum, but the scientists in John W. Campbell's 1938 classic "Who Goes There" discover an ancient alien spacecraft in the ice, to horrific (albeit well-known) results. If you're not familiar with the story, Wikipedia has a passable summary of the plot. It's a novella, not a full novel, but is long enough it might be confused in memory. It's been collected a lot and in 1976 was used as the title work in a collection of some of Campbell's earlier stories.

Campbell apparently originally wrote it as novel length, and when that version was discovered in his papers it was published as Frozen Hell in 2019. I've never read this version, so I don't know what the differences are.

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    "If you're not familiar with the story"... then you really should be.
    – Buzz
    Feb 10 at 1:10
  • The story is (legally) available at baen.com/Chapters/9781476781662/9781476781662___2.htm but does not mention "polished" nor "aluminum". > magnesium metal of the ship caught of course. The glow of the bomb flared and died, then it began to flare again. (…) gradually the glare built up. (…) whole ice-field illuminated from beneath with an unbearable light; the ship’s shadow was a great, dark cone reaching off toward the north, where the twilight was just about gone. (…) Then the ice was crashing down and against the ship. (…) > Then the walls of ice crashed down on it. Feb 10 at 22:00

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