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Richard Matheson, 1926-2013

If nothing else, the fact that Richard Matheson wrote “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” — you know, THAT episode of The Twilight Zone — would have put him in the pantheon of genre writers. But he also wrote the short story and the subsequent screenplay for Duel, which became Steven Spielberg’s seminal TV movie. And he wrote the Star Trek episode “The Enemy Within.” And he wrote the teleplay for The Night Stalker, which spawned the TV series Kolchak: The Night Stalker. And the novel What Dreams May Come. And the adaptations of Poe for Roger Corman’s early ’60s series of movies. And the novel that was adapted as the movie Somewhere In Time. And I Am Legend, which spawned THREE movie versions. (There, that’s burying the lede.) And many, many more.

Matheson died yesterday at 87, and anyone who’s into science fiction should take a moment to remember one of the most prolific and influential writers of his generation, influential enough to inspire Stephen King and to have a character named after him on The X-Files. If you were a fan, tell us your favorite Matheson story or movie or TV adaptation here in the comments….

HT: io9

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9 comments

  • The world is now a darker place.

    ‘Omega Man’ was one of the movies that influenced my childhood.

    I will miss Mr. Richard Matheson; it is hard to believe we will never read another work by him. He cannot be replaced, or even equaled.

  • Duel, The Night Stalker and The Incredible Shrinking Man are three of my all time favorite films. I can still quote big chunks of The Night Stalker from memory. In the days before VCR, my sister and I stuck a cassette recorder next to the TV speaker and taped it. We used to listen to it over and over like a radio play.

    “Judge for yourself its believability, and then try to tell yourself, wherever you may be — in the quiet of your home, in the safety of your bed — try to tell yourself, it couldn’t happen here.”

    A true giant is gone.

  • I loved his book “I Am Legend” it was such a beautiful allegory to many social circumstances in life. In my opinion none of the film adaptations come close to Matheson’s moving novel. Sad to hear he’s gone.

  • Holy crap he did Duel?! A friend of mine showed it to me when i was in the Army and I really liked it! I still prefer his book “I am Legend” to any other iteration.

  • There are so many great Matheson stories that have already been mentioned in this article and in the comments. However, if I had to pick one, it would be “The Doll” from the 80s anthology series “Amazing Stories.” Not really a sci-fi or horror story, “The Doll” showed that Matheson could be a big softie from time to time. John Lithgow would go on to win a much-deserved Emmy for his work for that episode. It’s worth seeking out.

  • Oh man. Richard Matheson was amazing. I am Legend is one of my favorite books ever. It’s amazing. I’ve read a few of his others, good but not as good. My copy of I Am Legend came with short stories. One, I think, called “For Marie” (you’d think I’d remember since that’s my name) is only a few paragraphs long but its really awesome.

  • Matheson wrote my all-time favorite Twilight Zone episode, “The Invaders.” I’ll have to watch it again tonight in his honor. One of Sci-Fi’s greatest. He will be missed.