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Richard Matheson

Richard Matheson (1926-2013)
Richard Matheson 
began publishing SF with his short story ‘Born of Man and Woman’ in 1950. I Am Legend was filmed as The Omega Man (1971), starring Charlton Heston, and I Am Legend (2007), starring Will Smith. Matheson wrote the script for the film The Incredible Shrinking Man, an adaptation of his second SF novel The Shrinking Man. The film won a Hugo award in 1958. He wrote many screenplays as well as episodes of The Twilight Zone. He continued to write short stories and novels, some of which formed the basis for film scripts, including Duel, directed by Steven Spielberg in 1971. A film of his novel What Dreams May Come was released in 1998, starring Robin Williams. Stephen King has cited Richard Matheson as a creative influence on his work.

I am Legend: Not really about vampires

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I am Legend by Richard Matheson

I don’t like vampire novels much, so I wasn’t planning to read Richard Matheson’s classic vampire story I am Legend which was published in 1954, is also known by the title The Omega Man, and is, of course, the basis for the movie I am Legend.

But then I recently read and was enthralled by two other books by Matheson: The Incredible Shrinking Man and Steel and Other Stories. I realized that The Incredible Shrinking Man wasn’t really so much about a man who was losing his height as it was about a man who was losing his manhood. Likewise, the novella “Steel,” the titular piece of Steel and Other Stories and the premise for the movie Real Steal, isn’t so much about a fighting... Read More

The Incredible Shrinking Man: A beautiful psychological study of masculinity

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The Incredible Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson

Every day Scott Carey is getting shorter by 1/7 of an inch. The doctors have figured out why — he was exposed to a combination of insecticide and radioactivity — but so far they have not been able to make him stop shrinking. Now Scott is only one inch tall and he is trapped in the cellar of his family’s rented home with a stale piece of bread, an out-of-reach box of crackers, a sponge, a garden hose, a water heater, and a black widow spider. And in seven more days, he’ll be gone.

Well, that’s enough to make many readers want to hear Scott’s story. How did he get in the cellar? Why didn’t he prepare for this since he had plenty of time? Where is his wife and daughter? Will the therapies reverse the shrinkage? Will the spider get him?

Readers who are expecting a horror-adventure story will be pleased with Read More

The Shores of Space: Matheson X 13

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The Shores of Space by Richard Matheson

The four novels that I had previously read by New Jersey-born Richard Matheson  — namely, 1954’s I Am Legend, 1956’s The Shrinking Man, 1958’s A Stir of Echoes and 1971’s Hell House — all demonstrated to this reader what a sure hand the late author had in the fields of science fiction, fantasy and Read More

A Stir of Echoes: Matheson’s first supernatural outing

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A Stir of Echoes by Richard Matheson

Richard Matheson is an author who never seems to let me down. The first two novels that I read by the man, I Am Legend (1954) and The Shrinking Man (1956), are superb and highly original sci-fi creations, and both have been memorably filmed. (I seem to be in the distinct minority in preferring the 1964 U.S.-Italian coproduction The Last Man on Earth, starring Vincent Price, over 1971’s The Omega Man, featuring Charlton Heston, although neither quite does justice to the I Am Legend original. The Incredible Shrinking Man, of course, filmed in 1957 with Matheson’s screenplay and starring Grant Williams, is one of the finest science fi... Read More

Hell House: A short, enjoyable read

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Hell House by Richard Matheson

Richard Matheson’s short novel Hell House (1971) follows a group of four experts with various supernatural-related backgrounds who seek to prove or disprove the existence of ghosts in a super-creepy home that’s become known as Hell House. And a hellish house it is indeed.

The roots of the story are built on a foundation of gothic horror, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of H.P. Lovecraft’s very heavy and mythic language throughout Matheson’s story.
They all stared through the windows at the curling fog. It was as though they rode inside a submarine, slowly navigating downward through a sea of curdled milk.
The following exposition describes what... Read More

Steel and Other Stories: Every story is a work of art

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Steel and Other Stories by Richard Matheson

Steel and Other Stories is a collection of stories written by Richard Matheson who is probably best known for his novels I am Legend and The Incredible Shrinking Man. Most were originally published in pulp magazines in the 1950s, though two are recent and have never been collected before. Each is quite short:

"Steel" — (1956, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction) Steel Kelly, a washed-up boxer, is now living vicariously through his broken down robot fighter. If they can win the next match, Steel hopes he’ll have enough money to fix up his robot. “Steel” was the inspiration for a Twilight Zone episode and the movie Real Steel. It’s exciting and demonstrates Richard Matheson’s talent for writing men from ... Read More

Thriller: One of the scariest TV shows of all time

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Thriller

Viewers who tuned into the new Thriller program on NBC, on the night of September 13, 1960, a Tuesday, could have had little idea that the mildly suspenseful program that they saw that evening — one that concerned a male ad exec being stalked by a female admirer — would soon morph into the show that author Stephen King would later call "the best horror series ever put on TV." The first eight episodes of Thriller came off as hour-long homages to Alfred Hitchcock Presents, which it immediately followed in the 9:00 slot; solid enough episodes of murder, intrigue and suspense, to be sure, with a touch of film noir at their heart. In the face of scathing reviews and poor viewership, however, the program brought in a new production team and drastically rebooted its image, gearing itself now more toward supernatura... Read More

Weird Tales: 32 Unearthed Terrors

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Weird Tales: 32 Unearthed Terrors edited by Stefan R. Dziemianowicz, Robert Weinberg & Martin Greenberg

Though hardly a runaway success in its day, and a publication that faced financial hardships for much of its existence, the pulp magazine known as Weird Tales is today remembered by fans and collectors alike as one of the most influential and prestigious. Anthologies without number have used stories from its pages, and the roster of authors who got their start therein reads like a "Who's Who" of 20th century horror and fantasy literature. During its 32-year run, from 1923-1954, and in its 279 issues, Weird Tales catered to a select readership that could not help but be impressed by early efforts from the likes of Robert E. Howard, Read More

Weird Tales: The Magazine That Never Dies

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Weird Tales: The Magazine that Never Dies edited by Marvin Kaye

Marvin Kaye's Weird Tales: The Magazine That Never Dies anthology from 1988 takes a slightly different tack than its earlier sister volume, Weird Tales: 32 Unearthed Terrors. Whereas the editors of that earlier collection chose to select one story from each year of the magazine's celebrated 32-year run (1923-1954), Kaye has decided here to not just limit himself to the periodical's classic era of 279 issues, but to also include tales from each of the four latter-day incarnations of "The Unique Magazine" (from 1973-87). The result is 45 pieces of generally superb speculative fantasy and horror, including six "Weird Tales Reprints" by such luminaries as Dickens, Poe, Flaubert and Stoker, as well as Otis Adelbert Kline's "Why Weird Tales?," an article that clearly delineated the magazine's goals and intentions in its first an... Read More

Rivals of Weird Tales: Nary a clinker in the bunch!

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Rivals of Weird Tales edited by Robert Weinberg, Stefan R. Dziemianowicz & Martin H. Greenberg

From 1923 – ’54, over the course of 279 issues, the pulp publication known as Weird Tales helped to popularize macabre fantasy and outré horror fiction, ultimately becoming one of the most influential and anthologized magazines of the century, and introducing readers to a “Who’s Who” of American authors. I had previously read and reviewed no fewer than six large collections of tales culled from the pages of “the Unique Magazine,” and had loved them all. But Weird Tales, of course, was far from being the only pulp periodical on the newsstands back when, as amply demonstrated in the appropriately titled, 500-page anthology Rivals of Weird Tales. In this wonderfully entertaining, generous collection, editors Robert Weinberg, Stefan R. Dziemia... Read More

More books by Richard Matheson

SFF book reviews Richard Matheson Somewhere in TimeSomewhere in Time — (1975) Publisher: Like What Dreams May Come, which inspired the movie starring Robin Williams, Somewhere in Time is the powerful story of a love that transcends time and space, written by one of the Grand Masters of modern fantasy. Matheson’s classic novel tells the moving, romantic story of a modern man whose love for a woman he has never met draws him back in time to a luxury hotel in San Diego in 1896, where he finds his soul mate in the form of a celebrated actress of the previous century. Somewhere in Time won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, and the 1979 movie version, starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, remains a cult classic.


SFF book reviews Richard Matheson Somewhere in Time, What Dreams May ComeWhat Dreams May Come — (1978) Publisher: The New York Times bestselling novel that inspired the Oscar-winning movie! What happens to us after we die? Chris Nielsen had no idea, until an unexpected accident cut his life short, separating him from his beloved wife, Annie. Now Chris must discover the true nature of life after death. But even Heaven is not complete without Annie, and when tragedy threatens to divide them forever, Chris risks his very soul to save Annie from an eternity of despair. Richard Matheson’s powerful tale of life-and love-after death was the basis for the lavish 1998 film starring Robin Williams.


SFF book reviews Richard Matheson Somewhere in Time, 7 Steps to Midnight7 Steps to Midnight — (1993) Publisher: When a mysterious imposter steals his identity and life, mathematician Chris Barton is suddenly thrust into a whirlwind of danger and intrigue. Overnight, without warning or explanation, not even his own sister recognizes him, but people he has never met are trying to kill him. On the run, from California to London to Paris and beyond, vicious assassins pursue Chris while cryptic messages lead him on a wild, danger-filled chase around the world. Full of twists and surprises, this is the story of an ordinary man driven to the breaking point in a high-tension game of deceit and betrayal where there are no rules, nothing it as it seems, and it is always… 7 Steps to Midnight.


Richard MathesonAbu and the 7 Marvels — (2002) Ages 9-12. Publisher: From the land of genies and their magical feats comes this enchanting twist on the traditional quest tale. Abu, a young peasant, sets off with the most ancient genie in his country’s domain in search of the seven marvels of the world in order to prove himself worthy of the hand of a beautiful princess. With cunningly crafted prose, gorgeous illustrations, and unique characters, this novel reveals itself to be no ordinary genie tale. From an unraveling flying carpet and ever-encroaching henchmen to a land made of sweets and a city under the sea, this tale takes readers on a daring journey of true love, bravery, glittering treasure, and intrigue.


Richard Matheson Other KingdomsOther Kingdoms — (2011) Publisher: For over half a century, Richard Matheson has enthralled and terrified readers with such timeless classics as I Am Legend, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Duel, Somewhere in Time, and What Dreams May Come. Now the Grand Master returns with a bewitching tale of erotic suspense and enchantment.… 1918. A young American soldier, recently wounded in the Great War, Alex White comes to Gatford to escape his troubled past. The pastoral English village seems the perfect spot to heal his wounded body and soul. True, the neighboring woods are said to be haunted by capricious, even malevolent spirits, but surely those are just old wives’ tales. Aren’t they? A frightening encounter in the forest leads Alex into the arms of Magda Variel, an alluring red-haired widow rumored to be a witch. She warns him to steer clear of the wood and the perilous faerie kingdom it borders, but Alex cannot help himself. Drawn to its verdant mysteries, he finds love, danger… and wonders that will forever change his view of the world. Other Kingdoms casts a magical spell, as conjured by a truly legendary storyteller.


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