One of the best writers in the fantasy/horror/science fiction field was Richard Matheson (1926-2013), who wrote a number of standout short stories and novels in the genres, including the classic thriller I Am Legend. Matheson also wrote for films and television, including some classic Twilight Zone episodes from 1959-64. Now Penguin Classics has collected some of Matheson’s works in their new anthology The Best of Richard Matheson, which includes some of the stories he adapted for Zone and various films and TV.
After a rather lengthy self-serving introduction by editor/author Victor LaValle (which is more about LaValle than Matheson), the collection opens up with “Born of Man and Woman”, the author’s first published work from 1950, about the apparent mistreatment of a deformed -and possibly dangerous- child. That’s followed by 31 more stories including ones adapted for film (“Duel”) and for TV (“Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”; “Third From the Sun”; “Dying Room Only” and “No Such Thing as a Vampire”). One of his best stories, “Button, Button”, about a woman offered a large sum of money provided she presses a button on a device that will kill somebody else, packs one wallop of an ending! And speaking of endings, the one for “Big Surprise” (adapted as a 1971 episode of Night Gallery) will haunt readers long after they’ve finished the collection.
If you like good thrillers, sometimes with a little black humor, check out The Best of Richard Matheson!
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