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.
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.
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.
Available only in e-book format, Backteria and Other Improbable Tales is a brand new collection of short tales of terror and the unknown from master storyteller Richard Matheson. In the title story, published here for the first time, a researcher encounters an exotic new strain of virus that causes the infected person to disappear. Curiosity leads the doctor on a path of discovery which takes him deep into his own personal history and suggests the age-old warning: Be careful what you wish for.
In "Getting Together", a case of mistaken identity leads to a darkly farcical story of marriage, murder, and a love that knows no bounds. The quietly threatening "Haircut" shows how a routine trim becomes a dark and terrifying experience when a barber is confronted with a sick customer who seems to him otherworldly.
In this collection of stories Matheson clearly demonstrates once again why Ray Bradbury called him "one of the most important writers of the twentieth century" and Stephen King named him as "the author who influenced me most as a writer."