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"The author who influenced me the most as a writer was Richard Matheson."--Stephen King
"One of the most important writers of the twentieth century."--Ray Bradbury
"Matheson is one of the great names in American terror fiction."—The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Matheson inspires, it's as simple as that."—Brian Lumley
About the Author
Richard Matheson (1926-2013) Richard Matheson was born in 1926. He began publishing SF with his short story 'Born of Man and Woman' which appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1950. I Am Legend was published in 1954 and has been adapted to film three times. Matheson wrote the script for the film The Incredible Shrinking Man, an adaptation of his second SF novel The Shrinking Man (published in 1956). The film won a Hugo award in 1958. He wrote many screenplays (including The Fall of the House of Usher) as well as episodes of The Twilight Zone. He continued to write short stories and novels, some of which formed the basis for film scripts, including Duel, directed by Steven Spielberg in 1971. Further SF short stories were collected in The Shores of Space (1957) and Shock! (1961). His other novels include Hell House (1971) (filmed as The Legend of Hell House in 1973), Bid Time Return (1975), Earthbound (1982) and Journal of the Gun Years (1992). A film of his novel What Dreams May Come (1978) was released in 1998, starring Robin Williams. A collection of his stories from the 1950s and 1960s was released in 1989 as Richard Matheson: Collected Stories. He died in 2013.
Richard Matheson was born in 1926. He began publishing SF with his short story 'Born of Man and Woman' in 1950. I Am Legend was published in 1954 and subsequently filmed as The Omega Man (in 1971), starring Charlton Heston, and I Am Legend (in 2007), starring Will Smith. Matheson wrote the script for the film The Incredible Shrinking Man, an adaptation of his second SF novel The Shrinking Man. The film won a Hugo award in 1958. He wrote many screenplays as well as episodes of The Twilight Zone. He continued to write short stories and novels, some of which formed the basis for film scripts, including Duel, directed by Steven Spielberg in 1971. A film of his novel What Dreams May Come was released in 1998, starring Robin Williams. Stephen King has cited Richard Matheson as a creative influence on his work.
Scott Carey is exposed to a one in a million chemical reaction (brought about by a mysterious sea-spray and being drenched in pesticides) and finds himself shrinking 1/7th of an inch every morning. While the Scientific explanation is a little bit of a throwaway, and left me going `huh?' (like Bruce Banner getting the gamma rays or Peter Parker getting bit by a nuked spider), the end result is certainly not. What plays out as a relentlessly depressing view of mortality and the loneliness in which man faces that mortality (much like Matheson's I AM LEGEND), ends with a surprisingly optimistic conclusion which puts this story into the realm of a zen-line allegory. As he shrinks, the protagonist's social struggles grow. He is often mistaken for a child (by bullying teenagers and in one scene, a drunken pedophile) and begins falling into the `little man's complex,' raging at seemingly insignifigant things and growing increasingly more neurotic as a result of his inability to be taken seriously. His manhood is challenged as he becomes too miniscule to relate physically to his wife (in the pit of his self-loathing he contemplates the rape of a sixteen year old girl), and in a final display of his ineffectiveness, his young daughter treats him like a doll. After being locked and lost in the cellar of his own house, his neuroses become manifest in the body of a black widow spider who torments him endlessly (amusingly, its the same spider he wounds with a stone while in a larger state). Carey's biggest problem is his fear. He fears his innate impulses and desires, he fears his financial instability with his brother, he fears the way his wife and daughter see him and his own concept of masculinity.Read more ›
"The Shrinking Man" by Richard Matheson ("incredible" was added to the title for this release so readers unfamiliar with the book but who'd seen the movie would have a better chance of catching it on the shelves.) is among the very best sci-fi adventures, if not simply the best novels, ever written. Robert Scott Carey, the unlucky main character of this story, finds himself shrinking at a rate of 1/7th of an inch a day after exposure to a cloud of radioactive mist. Sure, it sounds silly, but trust me, this is one of the most fantastic reads around. Events that were not part of the classic film add moments of psychological horror that top even a Stephen King freak-fest. Carey's rapidly changing relationship with his wife and daughter (a character not in the film) is explored as well as several incidents with strong themes that serve to highlight the personal Hell Carey's world has become as it steadily outgrows him. Like the movie, the novel ends with one of the greatest climaxes in imaginitive literature as Carey learns the ultimate truth of his existance and provides the story with it's final, underlying moral.... Read it, Experience it, if not for the first time, then again... and again...
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This was the first novel by Matheson that I ever read, in a paperback edition, back in the mid-50s. He was already well-known for his short stories in the sci-fi/fantasy pulp magazines of the day, and even in the "slicks" like Playboy, and I had read some of them. This was the first work of his to be made into a movie in 1957, The Incredible Shrinking Man (I guess they thought the original title, The Shrinking Man, was too credible?) directed by the late, great Jack Arnold (It Came from Outer Space, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Tarantula, et al.) but it wasn't the last. Most of his novels and some of his short stories have made it to the big screen (The Omega Man) or to TV (The Night Stalker). He was the Stephen King of the `50s and `60s! I read this novel before I saw the movie, and although the movie was great, with stand-out special effects, a very good cast, and tight direction, it of course had to leave out quite a lot. The character Scott Carey certainly had some interesting and unusual problems, and his fate is finally to enter the microscopic world, where the unknown waits. The Shrinking Man is a great read, and I recommend it to all sci-fi/horror fans, and certainly all Matheson fans.
Is Richard Matheson the greatest horror writer ever? I think it can be well-argued that the answer is yes. Poe can be rather staid to the modern reader and Lovecraft may be great at describing weird worlds, but his storytelling ability is rather limited. Among more recent writers, Stephen King (who counts Matheson among his influences) is a contender, and there may be a few others with worthy bodies of work in the genre. Matheson, in my opinion has them all beat, not only writing some of the most memorable horror stories ever, but also providing the material for numerous movies and TV shows (including The Twilight Zone and Roger Corman's sequence of Poe movies).
One of his most famous novels is The Incredible Shrinking Man, and despite its vaguely science fiction premise, it is clearly horror. Scott Carey is trapped in the cellar of his own house, around an inch tall and shrinking every day. His wife and child think he's dead and he has no way to let them know otherwise. His once familiar surroundings are now dangerous, and his struggle to survive will be hampered by a black widow spider that seemingly grows larger as Scott continues to shrink.
Through a series of flashbacks, we witness Scott's initial discovery of his malady, one triggered by accidental exposure to radiation and insecticide. He is shrinking one-seventh of an inch every day; while a geometric reduction might seem more logical, Matheson's use of an arithmetic one puts a clear end for Scott: after he is down to 1/7 of an inch, he is doomed to go to zero the next day.
The physical toll is only part of the problem, as Scott's shrinking also affects him psychologically, in particular with his feelings of inadequacy (both sexual and his inability to provide for his family).Read more ›
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