Richard Matheson, RIP

Found out a bit belatedly of the death of one of the 20th Century’s most influential authors, at least to me, Richard Matheson.  He was the rare author whose works spread out form “mere” novels and short stories to include screenplays and many, many famous episodes of classic TV shows, including The Twilight Zone.

Richard Corliss of Time Magazine offers a great essay about the works and influence of Mr. Matheson over his career:

For me, the ultimate Richard Matheson story was/is Duel.  There’s something about the idea of facing off against a mysterious -and homicidal!- truck driver that intrigued and terrified me.  The first movie I ever recall seeing was Duel, which was also director Steven Spielberg’s first big hit and an obvious template for what would become his first MEGAhit, Jaws.

But even taking Duel out of the equation, there are plenty of other memorable movies and concepts he created which are buried deep in my psyche.  The novel I Am Legend (and, more specifically, the Charlton Heston starring second movie version of the same, Omega Man).

There was also the very chilling Trilogy of Terror and that doll…

And let’s not forget the classic Twilight Zone episode Nightmare at 20,000 Feet!

I could go on, mentioning such classics as Kolchach: The Night Stalker or Legend of Hell House or The Incredible Shrinking Man…but suffice it to say, for the most part I’ve been delighted by Mr. Matheson’s work over the years.  Given the volume of said work, there were bound to be some disappointments and, sadly, my most recent experience with Mr. Matherson’s writing was the novel Hunted Past Reason.

Do yourself a favor and, if you haven’t already, check out the stuff I’ve mentioned above.  But avoid that last novel.

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