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Science Fiction and Fantasy Author Richard Matheson Dead At 87 57

Posted by timothy
from the long-and-storied-career dept.
New submitter no bloody nickname writes "The BBC reports that well-known U.S. author Richard Matheson has passed away. He was 87 years old. Mathesons prolific career lasted for more than 60 years and his works include the novels Hell House, The Shrinking Man, A Stir of Echoes, and I am legend. Matheson also wrote for television and cinema. Among the screenplays he wrote were the Spielberg movie Duel as well as multiple episodes of The Twilight Zone. Several of his novels have also been adapted into movies. In the case of I Am Legend this was done not just once but three times. Matheson continued to write books until recently and his most recently published book Generations was released in 2012." Adds reader Dave Knott: "Richard Matheson was a recipient of lifetime achievement recognition in both fantasy (World Fantasy Awards, 1984) and horror (Bram Stoker Awards, 1991), and was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2010. Matheson passed away on Sunday at his home in Los Angeles."
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Science Fiction and Fantasy Author Richard Matheson Dead At 87

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  • Why so unknown? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sam_In_The_Hills (458570) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @10:37AM (#44100401)
    I find in taking to non-scifi geeks that while everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE, has seen a movie(s) or tv shows based on Richard Matheson's work no one seems to have heard of him. It's really odd.
    • Re:Why so unknown? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by seven of five (578993) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @10:43AM (#44100471) Homepage
      Unlike Stephen King, whose name is attached to everything, i.e. "Stephen King's The Tommyknockers" etc. Matheson was more low key. On the other hand, I am Legend must've set some record for the number of movie versions.
    • He was a master storyteller. He could craft a story in just about any genre, including fantasy romance (Somewhere In Time and, arguably, What Dreams May Come) and western (the novels Journal of the Gun Years and The Memoirs of Wild Bill Hickock). The range of his body of work is impressive.

    • by Nyder (754090)

      I find in taking to non-scifi geeks that while everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE, has seen a movie(s) or tv shows based on Richard Matheson's work no one seems to have heard of him. It's really odd.

      I've seen some of his TV shows, but I didn't know of him till today. I don't think I've read any of his books, but since he did the I am Legend, which the movie left me with more questions then answers, maybe I should pick up the books.

    • by Seth (2925311)
      He is Legend
    • by Dusty101 (765661)

      Agreed. I'm actually kind of surprised and saddened that the death of someone as influential in the nerd/geek genres of horror and SF as Richard Matheson hasn't even merited 40 Slashdot posts yet.

      As well as "The Twilight Zone" and "I am Legend", he was responsible for (amongst many, many others):

      * The Incredible Shrinking Man
      * Five Roger Corman /Edgar Allan Poe screenplays
      * Hammer's screenplay for "The Devil Rides Out"
      * Being a *major* influence on Stephen King (he's credited repeatedly in King's "Danse Mac

      • by Dusty101 (765661)

        And yes, I just reread the summary and saw that "The Shrinking Man" was already mentioned. Duh. Chalk it up to my enthusiasm for the man's work...

    • by quantaman (517394)

      Well judging by the lack of comments here and my own lack of knowledge he wasn't that well known among scifi geeks either.

      Looking at his work he might have simply been a outside the main part of the genre, he obviously had some very major successes but never won any Hugos or Nebulas which tend to be fairly common among the top SF authors. He did good work but ended up in a small niche.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Almost everyone who is alive has read or seen his work (either directly or indirectly). Many writers were inspired by him but I doubt any will match him.

  • For what it's worth (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mmcxii (1707574) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @10:39AM (#44100421)
    I think that I Am Legend is pretty weak from the science fiction aspect. Omega Man and I Am Legend (the movie) did a better version of the story. The idea that Neville coming up with a cure for the plague without any prior education is a bit far fetched.

    But over all his short stories are a good read and he did write my favorite Twilight Zone episode (Night Call). I've never read the story that was to be made into Night Call, if one exists. Does anyone know?
    • by Anonymous Codger (96717) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @10:51AM (#44100549)

      I beg to differ on I Am Legend. I read the book many years ago and found it suspenseful, engrossing, moving, and, to one willing to suspend disbelief, reasonably plausible.

      None of the movies lived up to the original. They went more for thrills and chills at the expense of the humanity of the story.

      • by JeanCroix (99825)
        I concur. And none of the movie adaptations have really even touched on what, for me, was the biggest theme of the original story: What does it mean to be a "monster?"
      • by mmcxii (1707574)
        I'm fine with you having your opinion of it but it still doesn't address the idea that he just came up with not as much a cure but an understanding of the plague. An understanding that even after a fair amount of research most college freshmen with a biology major would have known without having to open a book.

        In any case... to me the book just dwelled on Neville's being a drunk too much. While it's an honest approach it hardly makes for engrossing reading. The only part of the book that really moved me wa
    • by tippe (1136385)

      I was going to say that my comment was off-topic but that my favourite Twilignt Zone episode was "Button, Button", but I just checked the Wikipedia page for "Button, Button" and it turns out that Richard Matheson wrote that as well. Holy crap! I had no idea! I guess my comment isn't off-topic after all.

    • by Patch86 (1465427)

      I think that I Am Legend is pretty weak from the science fiction aspect. Omega Man and I Am Legend (the movie) did a better version of the story. The idea that Neville coming up with a cure for the plague without any prior education is a bit far fetched.

      You are confusing me. You say you prefer the film I Am Legend to the novella, but go onto say that the idea of him finding a cure was pretty weak. In the movie he finds a cure (and is a professional virologist); in the book he does not (and is not). The movie has a tacked on happy ending; the book is easily one of the most crushingly depressing pieces of sci-fi I've ever read (and I mean that as a compliment).

      The Will Smith movie does a good job building the tension and atmosphere in the first half, but squ

  • by LNO (180595) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @10:48AM (#44100519)

    If you haven't read I Am Legend, you're doing yourself a disservice. The three adaptations mentioned in the summary are The Last Man On Earth [imdb.com] in 1964 starring Vincent Price, The Omega Man [imdb.com] in 1971 starring Charleton Heston, and I Am Legend [imdb.com] in 2007 starring Will Smith. Of all of these, the oldest is the closest to the actual novella and takes the fewest liberties.

    When the 2007 version was in preproduction, I was geeking out as I could not wait to see this done with modern technology and techniques. Of course, as I should have known (and we should all have known with, say, Ender's Game or World War Z) that what made the book excellent is not what would be shown on the screen.

    Even though the story is 59 years old, I'm still loathe to spoil it. Go read it. Do Richard Matheson one last tribute.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      If you haven't read I Am Legend, you're doing yourself a disservice. The three adaptations mentioned in the summary are The Last Man On Earth in 1964 starring Vincent Price, The Omega Man in 1971 starring Charleton Heston, and I Am Legend in 2007 starring Will Smith. Of all of these, the oldest is the closest to the actual novella and takes the fewest liberties.

      Americans could still read in the 1960s. Now they just assume that all books are books of a movie.

  • by invid (163714) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @11:12AM (#44100783) Homepage
    I remember discovering that a number of movies that had major impacts on me growing up were written by the same person, ( Trilogy of Terror, Duel, The Omega Man) and wondering why I hadn't heard his name before. I had nightmares about that little idol doll for weeks.
    • by sconeu (64226)

      I'm just curious.. how much work would there have to be on the *screenplay* for Duel? I mean, there were, what, 25 spoken words in the whole film? Disclaimer: I am not in "The Industry" at all, and have no idea what a screenplay consists of.

      Granted, it's a brilliant film.

      • by invid (163714)
        I have actually written 2 teleplays (for a very failed TV series, it never got off the ground). The general rule is one page per minute. Now, depending on the writer, you could have someone go into every shot type, camera angle, facial expressions, and so on. Even so it would be hard to get a page per minute on Duel. I have to look and see if the script is on line now, you got me curious.
      • by invid (163714)

        Camera shooting from the left and at a shallow downward angle. Now the camera starts to pull ahead, drawing around so that Mann's car remains in sight. After a while, the truck is revealed foot by foot; a gigantic gasoline tanker truck pulling a tank trailer, each of them having six wheels. It is not a new rig but dented and in need of renovation, its tanks painted a cheap looking silver color. We hear the grinding strain of the truck's motor. The vertical pipe to the left of the cab is spewing dark smoke

      • by mikael (484)

        A copy of the original script is available for download:

        http://www.awesomefilm.com/script/Duel.pdf [awesomefilm.com]

  • "Last Man on Earth", the Vincent Price movie version of "I am Legend" is available at the Internet Archive: http://archive.org/details/TheLastManOnEarth_72 [archive.org]

    Although I prefer Mathewson's original story to any of the movie adaptations, I think that this is the best movie of the three based on it.

  • He also wrote a story which was made into the movie "Somewhere in time" starring "superman" and Jane Seymore. I loved the movie and then looked up the book.
  • The Kevin Bacon film was an adaptation, but it was so similar to The Sixth Sense and came out around the same time... it's like how Equilibrium was better than The Matrix.

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