Goodbye Richard Matheson
I am getting tired of writing these. For those of you who don’t know, Richard Matheson was an author and screen writer. He wrote the Nightmare at 20,000 Feet Twilight Zone episode, as well as a few others. What he is best known for (and the reason I am a fan) is his book I am Legend, one of the best zombie novels of all time.
If this title sounds familiar that is because it has been made into a movie on three separate occassions: the Last Man on Earth in 1964 with Vincent Price, the Omega Man starring Charlton Heston in 1971, and most recently (and most badly) I am Legend with Will Smith in 2007. This book was also the inspiration behind Night of the Living Dead, and I think it can honestly be said that every zombie axiom we currently enjoy has been at least influenced if not actively created my Mr. Matheson.
What makes his book awesome is that zombies are a visual phenomenon, yet he managed to make them menacing in print. Most zombie novels rarely elicit any kind of actual fear response mainly due to the fact that you can’t really paint a true zombie horde with words (zombie horde image courtesy of the zombie t shirt category). Mr. Matheson did it by focusing on the survivor rather than the zombies, and by making him as real and cool as possible. Plus the story is pretty amazing and goes far beyond the cliche zombie survival canon. If you saw I am Legend and thought it decent without reading the book you should read it and then feel shame for being such an ignorant moron for the rest of your life. Believe me when I say that they literally turned that story into cliche pap. The only things it really has to do with the book is zombies (sort of) and the title.
Anyway, it seems we are hitting a bad spell when a number of great sci fi readers are dying and yet Stephanie Meyer keeps on producing. Once again I am bummed, and feel that if anyone deserves to come back as a zombie it’s Mr. Matheson. You will be missed sir.