|Matheson with his son Richard Christian Matheson|
on the cover of the June, 1986 issue of
Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine
On this day in 2013 we lost the astonishingly talented and influential writer Richard Matheson, whose fiction has enthralled and inspired so many readers and writers over the course of his sixty-plus year career. Besides penning some of the finest horror, science fiction, fantasy, western, and mystery fiction of the 20th century (not to mention his underappreciated war novel The Beardless Warriors), Matheson was one of the key creative pillars of The Twilight Zone, responsible for such signature episodes as “Nick of Time,” “The Invaders,” and “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.” Sixteen episodes of the series were either written by Matheson or were adapted from his work by series creator Rod Serling.
Thankfully, much of Matheson’s work remains in print and a great deal has been adapted to the large and small screens. To fully explore Matheson’s career, we recommend two volumes: The Twilight and Other Zones: The Dark Worlds of Richard Matheson, edited by Stanley Wiater, Matthew R. Bradley, and Paul Stuve (Citadel, 2009), and Richard Matheson On Screen: A History of the Filmed Works by Matthew R. Bradley (McFarland, 2010). Matheson’s Collected Stories are available in three paperback volumes from Edge Books (Gauntlet Press), as are his Twilight Zone scripts (in two volumes). Tor Books has released collections of Matheson’s short fiction as well. The first two volumes of the Tor series, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories (2002) and Duel: Terror Stories (2003), are particularly strong as the contents of both were selected by Matheson himself. An award-winning collection of original stories inspired by Matheson’s work, He is Legend: An Anthology Celebrating Richard Matheson, edited by Christopher Conlon (Gauntlet Press, 2009), is available in paperback from Tor and features the work of William F. Nolan, Stephen King, Joe R. Lansdale, Richard Christian Matheson, and many others, all providing interesting variations on classic Matheson stories. In October of this year Matheson's work will join that of his friend and fellow Twilight Zone writer Charles Beaumont with inclusion in the prestigious Penguin Classics line of paperback books. The volume, titled The Best of Richard Matheson, will be a career retrospective of Matheson's short fiction. The contents are selected by novelist Victor LaValle and will undoubtedly contain some if not all of his stories later adapted for The Twilight Zone.
Be sure to revisit Brian's original post on Matheson's legacy and I’ve included some quick jumps to Matheson’s episodes we’ve covered here in the Vortex as well as a look ahead to the episodes we will be covering in the future. Below that you can view a selection of covers from Matheson's well-regarded works, courtesy of the Internet Speculative Fiction Database, which also provides a bibliography of Matheson's speculative fiction.
-Season One, Episode 11: "And When the Sky Was Opened," adapted by Rod Serling
-Season One, Episode 14: "Third from the Sun," adapted by Rod Serling
-Season One, Episode 18: "The Last Flight"
-Season One, Episode 23: "A World of Difference"
-Season One, Episode 36: "A World of His Own"
-Season Two, Episode 43: "Nick of Time"
-Season Two, Episode 51: "The Invaders"
-Season Three, Episode 78: "Once Upon a Time"
-Season Three, Episode 91: "Little Girl Lost"
-Season Three, Episode 99: “Young Man’s Fancy”
-Season Four, Episode 107: “Mute”
-Season Four, Episode 108: “Death Ship”
-Season Five, Episode 122: “Steel”
-Season Five, Episode 123: “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”
-Season Five, Episode 139: “Night Call”
-Season Five, Episode 141: "Spur of the Moment"