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.
In Now You See It, the prolific master of suspense and screenwriting (I Am Legend; The Incredible Shrinking Man) delivers a knock-out tale the likes of which have not been seen since Henry Clouzot's devlilish thriller Diabolique.
Some years ago, the Great Delacorte, a famed stage magician, came down with a stroke that left him in a vegetative state, able to move only his eyes. The entire action of the novel is witnessed through these eyes as Delacorte sits in the Magic Room of his country estate, a room custom-tailored to display stage illusions. Delacorte's son, Max, has taken his name and place as an illusionist in every effort to replace his father. Max is supported by his wife Cassandra and her amazingly identical lookalike younger brother Brian. But for the past year, Cassandra has been poisoning Max's food with arsenic and a sleeping pill. She wants the act all for herself--but Max has his own ideas, and his revenge is the big dish that Matheson sets before us in this dazzler that offers top-flight fun!
Prolific screenwriter and genre novelist Richard Matheson has long maintained an interest in all matters relating to parapsychology, telepathy, ESP and other paranormal activity. His brief and elegantly printed new volume amounts to a lightly fictionalized history as well as quick, evocative episodes of paranormal activity from Greek antiquity all the way through renowned American psychic Edgar Cayce.
Most of the episodes in this book depict the famous seers, mediums and performers of the nineteenth-century, whose feats Matheson clearly admires. Margaret and Kate Fox, aged ten and seven, in 1848 convinced their parents and many other Americans that they were in touch with ghosts in a haunted house. (Matheson notes that the adult Margaret recanted, explaining how she herself produced the ghosts’ mysterious rapping noises: he believes the recantation fake, arranged by the sisters’ enemies.)
Civil War-era medium Nettie Colburn instructed President Lincoln to visit his troops; Matheson thinks she channeled the deceased statesman Daniel Webster. New England mediums "Mrs. Leonard and Mrs. Piper" underwent elaborate tests in an effort to prove that their psychic connections were in fact genuine; William James, for one, was impressed. Harry Houdini used his great stage-magic to unmask a bevy of psychic frauds; Matheson describes some, then discusses what he believes are genuine paranormal experiences that are linked to Houdini.
Matheson’s afterword repeats his confident claims that the powers he describes are very real and he pleads for a serious study of them. Fans of parapsychology or of Matheson’s other works should enjoy this lively exploration of great topics that inform the genre and have become legendary.
This short novel that is told with almost fable-like simplicity: Matt Harper is a first-time counselor at a boy’s summer camp when he witnesses a casual brutality that leads to murder. The bullying, gluttonous headman Ed Nolan (who has "reduced Camp Pleasant to a microcosm of the Third Reich") is portrayed as one stereotype that the reader is not sorry to see killed off. Instead, all of our sympathy is reserved for the possible suspects: Merv Loomis, the homosexual counselor Nolan humiliates into quitting; the troubled ten-year-old Tony Rocca; Nolan’s meek wife, Ellen; and several others. The setting and tone have the distinct feel of the early 1950s, but a casual reference to actress Catherine Deneuve places the action in the mid-60s or later.
In other hands, perhaps this minimalist plot would be inadequate, but Matheson, author of Somewhere in Time and Hell House as well as classic Twilight Zone teleplays, has such a command of his craft that reading this book is pure pleasure. The simple writing style brings to mind Hemingway. "It was a Wednesday night and there were movies down in the lodge so I sent my boys there and stayed in the cabin, packing my trunk." Occasionally, Matheson waxes poetic: "I lay there staring at the wall, feeling my heart thud slowly in my chest like the fist of a dying man on the wall of his prison." Readers will find in Matheson’s book a deeply engaging story with a clear writing style that is a pleasure to read.