June 25, 2013

Richard Matheson (1926-2013)

I can't believe that it's been seven years since I first discovered the fiction of Richard Matheson, via the short story collection Duel (which I reviewed at the time). As I said back then:

Matheson seems to be almost unheard of these days, but in addition to "Duel," many of his novels have been adapted for film: A Stir of Echoes, What Dreams May Come, and The Shrinking Man, to name three. After reading Duel, I'm convinced to try out some of his longer fiction. But if you're looking for a good collection of tight short stories by an author you probably haven't read before, you can't go wrong with this book.

Richard Matheson passed away on Sunday at the age of 97.

His influence is arguably out of proportion to his name recognition, but if you've watched a lot of science-fiction or horror television or movies, you've probably seen something he wrote, which includes:

  • the screenplay for Duel, Stephen Spielberg's first feature-length film (and the short story on which it was based);
  • the classic Twilight Zone episodes "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" and "Little Girl Lost," as well as the episode "Steel" based on his short story of the same name (as was the 2011 movie Real Steel starring Hugh Jackman); and
  • the novel I am Legend, which has been adapted three times for the movies, as The Last Man on Earth (1964) starring Vincent Price, The Omega Man (1971) starring Charlton Heston, and I am Legend (2007), starring Will Smith;

Science fiction and horror literature has lost another of its greatest authors. The Golden Age continues to slowly diminish.