Monday, June 24, 2013

RIP Richard Matheson

It was incredibly unfortunate to hear the death of author Richard Matheson. He was just about the greatest author in the field of speculative fiction as a whole, primarily in the background of science fiction, horror, psychological, and situation, finding every possible opportunity to include a mix of each of these genres. Matheson was the mind behind the novels I Am Legend and The Shrinking Man (though people may remember it better as The Incredible Shrinking Man) and several short stories, such as "Button, Button," which was later adapted into The Box in cinema, and "Nightmare At 20,000 Feet," which like many of his short stories was adapted into an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Richard Matheson died after a lengthy illness yesterday at the age of 87, but he left behind a heavy resume that included plenty of memorable pieces. Last summer, I read The Shrinking Man, and thought it was just an excellent, "a-ha" kind of read, ending in a twist that we could have expected coming, but were thrown off by to begin with. Since many of Matheson's novels were small enough to be called novellas or short novels, many of them are accompanied by his memorable short stories. I read "Button, Button," and thought it was an absolutely excellent concept and was executed so well. One of the stories we don't hear much about is "The Test," which is a short story about an older man who is studying for a test (primarily mental information) that will determine whether or not he lives or dies in a futuristic society. Perhaps, I will reread it and put together a short story review for that underrated and overlooked work. The Shrinking Man, as you may remember, made it onto my list of "The Ten Best Books I Read In 2012" as #5.

Richard Matheson wasn't only a thrill to read, but he has inspired the tone I use in my writing, which is thinking in a "what-if" kind of way. The "what-if" way of thinking is crucial when it comes to writing an excellent speculative piece and Matheson was fantastic at executing it. He will definitely be missed, but his works will always live on. As a collection of his clearly states and I will tweak to make it more fitting, "he is and always will be legend."

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