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.
In Matheson’s legendary tale, family man Scott Carey finds himself shrinking, slowly, day-by-day, inch-by-inch. While on vacation, he gets exposed to a radioactive cloud, the cause of this bizarre event. Scott once had an everyday existence as a husband and father, but now his shrinking shows no end in sight. He becomes a national spectacle, something worthy of newspaper headlines. As Carey shrinks smaller and smaller, his family become more and more unreachable giants, and the family cat becomes a predatory menace. In this world of disproportion, which grows more and more perilous with each passing day, Scott struggles to survive. He is pushed to the very limits of fear and existence.
s the story continues, Carey meets up with some circus performers and attempts to rebuild some semblance of a life. But since his shrinking never stops, all ideas of normal fade, and the threats never stop growing.
In 1958, The Shrinking Man won the Hugo award for that year’s best science fiction or fantasy dramatic presentation. It was also adapted into the film The Incredible Shrinking Man.
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.
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