Richard Matheson (1926-2013) was a prolific speculative fiction author and screenwriter who wrote novels, short stories, movie screenplays, and scripts for television. He is perhaps best known for I Am Legend, a novel that was translated to the silver screen twice-once starring Charlton Heston, and once starring Will Smith. His screenplay The Incredible Shrinking Man, based on a prior novel, won the Hugo Award in 1958. Several other novels of Matheson's have been adapted to film, including What Dreams May Come, A Stir of Echoes, Duel, and Hell House. The movie version of Duel, based on a Matheson short story of the same name, was directed by Steven Spielberg. He is also known for writing dozens of episodes for The Twilight Zone, including the iconic "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," and several popular Star Trek episodes, including "The Enemy Within."
In addition to the Hugo Award, Richard Matheson was the recipient of the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement (1984) and an Edgar Award for a teleplay written for The Night Stalker. He was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2010.
From Richard Matheson, author of I Am Legend, comes a four-book bundle of his best suspense novels. Revenge, murder, and horror abound in these stories of speculative fiction as the dark side of humanity is explored. The Shrinking Man: While on vacation, Scott Carey is exposed to a cloud of radioactive gas—and begins to shrink at a fraction of an inch per day. As he loses his stature, his relationships with his spouse, family, and friends are also threatened—as is his life. The inspiration for several movies, this novel raises interesting questions about the meaning of masculinity in 1950’s American suburbia.
Camp Pleasant: As a first-time camp counselor at a boy’s summer camp, Matt Harper is the witness to a murder. Told with jarring simplicity, this novel tells the story of casual brutality in an environment that should be representative of idyllic childhood innocence.
Hunger and Thirst: In renowned science fiction and horror writer Richard Matheson’s first novel, the protagonist lies paralyzed in a hospital bed after catching a bullet in a robbery gone wrong. In this touching and compelling novel, he contemplates his life thus far—and his hopes for the future.
7 Steps to Midnight: At the end of an ordinary workday, mathematician Chris Barton finds his car missing from the employee parking lot and a stranger living in his house, claiming to be him. Thrust into a surreal world of violence and mystery, Chris must go on the run, stay alive, and follow a series of cryptic clues to regain his life.
In the early hours of a Sunday morning, lunatic pianist Vincent Radin escapes from an insane asylum and sets out on a revenge-fueled rampage. His aim is to find the two people who have hurt him most—his erstwhile manager and his lover’s new husband—and end their lives.
The second of Richard Matheson’s published novels, this book demonstrates the skill in pacing, plot, and suspense that characterize his later work. This lurid thriller tells the story of a man who will stop at nothing to enact his revenge—and the people who get caught in the crossfire—in spare, relentless prose that’s impossible to put down.
Robert Neville has witnessed the end of the world. The entire population has been obliterated by a vampire virus. Somehow, Neville survived. He must now struggle to make sense of everything that has happened and learn to protect himself against the vampires who hunt him constantly. He must, because perhaps there is nothing else human left.
I Am Legend was a major influence in horror and brought a whole new thematic concept to apocalyptic literature. Several humanistic and emotional themes in this book blend the horror genre with traditional fiction: we see Neville as an emotional person, and observe as he suffers bouts of depression, dips into alcoholism and picks up his strength again to fight the vampiric bacteria that has infected (and killed off) most of humankind. Neville soon meets a woman, Ruth, (after three years alone), who seems to be uninfected and a lone survivor. The two become close and he learns from Ruth that the infected have learned to fight the disease and can spend short amounts of time in the daylight, slowly rebuilding strength and society as it was.
The novel was adapted to film in 1964 as The Last Man on Earth, as Omega Man in 1971 and finally as I am Legend in 2007, starring Will Smith.
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