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Richard Matheson

Updated on August 22, 2014
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Nerd, cinephile, TV-junky, research-loving, left-leaning, science-fiending, atheist from the gutter. Follow me on Twitter @TheGutterMonkey.

The Overlooked Master of Sci-Fi, Horror, and Fantasy

Many readers may not recognize the name Richard Matheson. When they think of contemporary writers of horror, fantasy, and science fiction, the authors who most commonly come to mind are people such as Anne Rice, Dean Koontz, or - most notably - Stephen King. But would it surprise you that these authors were only a few that have stated Richard Matheson as being one of their most prominent inspirations? It's true.

Richard Burton Matheson (born February 20, 1926) has indeed influenced many of our lives even without our knowledge. He's been the creator of such beloved and revered stories as I Am Legend (adapted into three feature films), The Incredible Shrinking Man, Somewhere In Time, Duel (the first feature film directed by Steven Spielberg), and sixteen classic The Twilight Zone episodes including the famous "There's something on the wing!" episode, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet. I Am Legend is also the primary inspiration for the original Night of the Living Dead film by George A. Romero, which made the worldwide plague and zombie genres... well, legend.

From zombies to Stephen King to some of the most mind-bending dimensions of The Twilight Zone, Richard Matheson has been the hidden spice that's influenced them all .

What Others Have To Say About Richard Matheson

What other revered artists have to say about Matheson

"

I had written a short story, which I basically had ripped off from a Richard Matheson novel called I Am Legend."
-- George A. Romero on Night of the Living Dead

"

I had been a fan of Richard Matheson's work before 'Duel,' and as a reverent follower of the Twilight Zone, I knew Richard from his brilliant contributions to that series ... While I expected a well-written and gripping narrative, nothing prepared me for the relentless, unforgiving force I encountered."
-- Steven Spielberg


"

We're all a lot richer to have Richard Matheson among us."
-- Dean Koontz

"

When I was a child we had a story from the library called 'The White Silk Dress.' A child vampire told the story in the first person, and I thought it was quite wonderful. I was 8 or 9 years old and I never forgot it. I wanted to get into that vampire. That was the interesting point of view to me - the people right in the center of it all."
-- Anne Rice on Richard Mathesons "Dress of White Silk"

"

The author who influenced me the most as a writer was Richard Matheson."
-- Stephen King

"

One of the most important writers of the twentieth century."
-- Ray Bradbury

"

Matheson inspires, it's as simple as that."
-- Brian Lumley

The most clever and riveting vampire novel since Dracula."
-- Dean Koontz

One of the most influential vampire novels of the 20th century, I Am Legend regularly appears on the "10 Best" lists of numerous critical studies of the horror genre. As Richard Matheson's third novel, it was first marketed as science fiction (for although written in 1954, the story takes place in a future 1976). A terrible plague has decimated the world, and those who were unfortunate enough to survive have been transformed into blood-thirsty creatures of the night. Except, that is, for Robert Neville. He alone appears to be immune to this disease, but the grim irony is that now he is the outsider. He is the legendary monster who must be destroyed because he is different from everyone else. Employing a stark, almost documentary style, Richard Matheson was one of the first writers to convince us that the undead can lurk in a local supermarket freezer as well as a remote Gothic castle.

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A horror story if ever there was one...a great adventure story--it is certainly one of that selected handful that I have given to people, envying them the experience of the first reading."
-Stephen King

Inch by inch, day by day, Scott Carey is getting smaller. Once an unremarkable husband and father, Scott finds himself shrinking with no end in sight. His wife and family turn into unreachable giants, the family cat becomes a predatory menace, and Scott must struggle to survive in a world that seems to be growing ever larger and more perilous--until he faces the ultimate limits of fear and existence.

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Tom Wallace lived an ordinary life, until a chance event awakened psychic abilities he never knew he possessed. Now he's hearing the private thoughts of the people around him-and learning shocking secrets he never wanted to know. But as Tom's existence becomes a waking nightmare, even greater jolts are in store as he becomes the unwilling recipient of a compelling message from beyond the grave!

This eerie ghost story, by award-winning author of Hell House and I Am Legend, inspired the acclaimed 1999 film starring Kevin Bacon.

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Hell House is the scariest haunted house novel ever written. It looms over the rest the way the mountains loom over the foothills."
--Stephen King

One of the most influential vampire novels of the 20th century, I Am Legend regularly appears on the "10 Best" lists of numerous critical studies of the horror genre. As Richard Matheson's third novel, it was first marketed as science fiction (for although written in 1954, the story takes place in a future 1976). A terrible plague has decimated the world, and those who were unfortunate enough to survive have been transformed into blood-thirsty creatures of the night. Except, that is, for Robert Neville. He alone appears to be immune to this disease, but the grim irony is that now he is the outsider. He is the legendary monster who must be destroyed because he is different from everyone else. Employing a stark, almost documentary style, Richard Matheson was one of the first writers to convince us that the undead can lurk in a local supermarket freezer as well as a remote Gothic castle.

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Stylish and gripping, [Richard Mathsons's] stories not only entertain but touch the mind and heart."
--Dean Koontz

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.

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Richard Matheson is worth our time, attention, and great affection."
-- Ray Bradbury

A classic novel of love after death, from one our greatest fantasy writers. The premise is deceptively simple: Chris Neilson has died in a car accident, but his life-force--his spirit--is still conscious of this plane of reality. And he is still too in love with his wife, Ann, to completely let go. She in turn does not want to go on living without him, as each regards the other as their soul mate. What Chris will do to get back with Ann after she dies makes for one of the most unusual love stories ever told. Even though the story can be enjoyed as pure fantasy, what makes What Dreams May Come unique is how the author spent years researching the subject of life after death. (An exhaustive bibliography is included to verify this.) And while Matheson admits that the characters are of course fictional, he also states that "With few exceptions, every other detail is derived exclusively from research." Whether, after reading this novel, one believes in life after death is of course a matter of opinion. At least you'll entertain the possibility that, even though we may not live forever, true love can be eternal.

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For over half a century, Richard Matheson has enthralled and terrified readers with such timeless classics as I Am Legend, Somewhere in Time, and What Dreams May Come. Now the grand master returns with a bewitching tale of erotic suspense and enchantment.

The year is 1918. Alex White, a young American soldier recently wounded in the Great War, comes to Gatford to escape his troubled past. The pastoral English village seems the perfect spot to heal his wounded body and soul, but the neighboring woods are said to be haunted by capricious, even malevolent, spirits. He is warned to steer clear of the woods, 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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These are gems of astounding imagination and scope, mind-blowing word tapestries that have influenced every fiction writer working today."
-- Creature Feature

This three volume edition of RICHARD MATHESON: COLLECTED STORIES is the gathering together of 86 Richard Matheson short stories, beginning with Born of Man and Woman from 1950 and ending with Duel from 1971. The stories were arranged by Matheson himself roughly in chronological order of original publication. There are also several tributes to Richard Matheson throughout the volumes from admirers such as Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, William F. Nolan, and others. Finally, Matheson wrote a deeply revealing Introduction for the collection. As Matheson himself states in this Introduction, "A twenty-year period of creativity reduced to the psychological background of my output of fantasy and science-fiction stories. If this were a thesis, that would be my premise".

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Other Books By Richard Matheson

Richard Matheson, the New York Times bestselling author of I Am Legend, has inspired a generation of storytellers. Now an outstanding cast of top writers pays tribute to his legacy with an all-new collection of original stories set in Matheson's own fictional universes, including sequels, prequels, and companion stories to I Am Legend, Hell House, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Somewhere in Time, "Duel," and "Button, Button." Among the highlights of this one-of-a-kind anthology is the first ever collaboration between Stephen King and his son, bestselling horror writer Joe Hill. Other notable contributors include Nancy A. Collins, Joe R. Lansdale, William F. Nolan, Whitley Strieber, F. Paul Wilson, and Matheson's son, Richard Christian Matheson. Previously published as a limited edition by Gauntlet Press in 2009, He Is Legend is now available to Matheson's many fans, as well as all lovers of gripping horror and suspense.

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    • mojoCNYartist profile image

      Dan 4 years ago from CNY

      I think I am Legend has been adapted into more than 3 films. You forgot the mention Omega Man starring Charlton Heston, and I am Legend starring Vincent Price.

      One of my favorite authors.

    • christopherwell profile image

      christopherwell 5 years ago

      I think the "Hell House" segment has info instead about "I Am Legend."

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      I read The Incredible Shrinking Man in 1959 much to my mother's horror. I enjoyed the film later on too but I hadn't realised Richard Matheson. had written so many

    • ravi551854 profile image

      ravi551854 6 years ago

      very good and nice lens