Richard Matheson, the science fiction and horror writer has passed away at the age of 87.
Amongst his masses of publications and works from a career spanning some 60 years, he is arguably most famous for his novel I Am Legend which is regularly voted the greatest vampire novel of all time.
Published in 1954 it tells the story of Robert Neville, seemingly the last survivor in a world overrun by nocturnal, vampire/zombie like creatures. In my opinion it has one of the very best twist endings in SFF literature and not one of the three big screen adaptations of this book have managed to convey just how powerful this book is.
Regarding adaptations for the big screen, before his death Richard Matheson was working with his son Richard Matheson Jr on adapting his novel The Shrinking Man for the big screen for the second time. The original film, which was released in 1957 and told the story of a business man who begins to shrink after being infected by a radioactive cloud, won a Hugo award and is said to have inspired the classic Honey I Shrunk The Kids.
Although arguably most famous for his novels and film adaptations, Richard Matheson was also an accomplished screenwriter of original materials.
Interestingly he wrote Nightmare at 20,000 Feet in 1963 which is arguably the most famous episode of TheTwilight Zone ever televised. This is the much referenced episode which stars William Shatner and tells the story of a man on a plane convinced that there’s a gremlin out on the wing, peering in to the plane.
The 2009 Hugh “Wolverine” Jackman film, Real Steel was also an adaptation of Matheson’s Twilight Zone episode ‘Steel’.
He also wrote Duel, one of the very first films to be directed by Steven Spielberg and is credited as a writer on over 80 film and television productions.
Ray Bradbury called Matheson “one of the most important writers of the 20th century.”
Richard Matheson had won Lifetime Achievement awards from both the Bram Stoker Award and World Fantasy Award and was inducted in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2010. He was due to receive the Visionary award at the Academy of Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Films’ Saturn Awards and was set to be the Guest of Honour at this year’s World Fantasy Con in Brighton, UK.
World Fantasy Con 2013 will now be dedicated to his memory.
Thank you Richard Matheson for everything you have given the world.
You Are Legend.