Richard Matheson

My first introduction to Richard Matheson came through I Am Legend. Not the book so much but rather the movie starring Will Smith. I had heard a bit about the movie and initially assumed that it was about zombies. And, since I got tired of zombies about 2 days after they became popular a few years ago  (not trying to be a cool hipster here- zombies just aren’t my sub-genre), I wasn’t particularly interested in watching the movie when it first came out.


But, as so often happens, it passed through my hands at work and I decided to check it out. And then felt a little stupid once I realized it was not about zombies at all but vampires. I enjoyed it but honestly (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER), once the dog died (SPOILER DONE) I was kind of finished with the movie. Although I did like it enough to think, “I should read this book!”

Fast forward a few years. I’m checking in new books at work and I see we’ve just gotten a brand new copy of Button, Button: Uncanny Stories by Richard Matheson. After a quick perusal of the back and discovering that none other than Ray Bradbury recommended him, I immediately check it out. And then go into our stacks to check out another short story compilation (Duel: Terror Stories) and, since it was just sitting there waiting for me, I Am Legend (the book).

I fell in love after the first story. Ray Bradbury is my favorite author and he is particularly good at writing creepy stories. So is Richard Matheson. These stories aren’t disgusting or gruesome, at least not in the sense that there’s a high body count or unnecessary hacking, sawing, splattering, etc. Almost all of these stories start with ordinary people in ordinary situations. But slowly and surely things start going wrong.

I read I Am Legend after the short stories. I enjoyed the book but had to laugh at how different it was from the movie. Yes, the movie had some of the basic things from the original story but, well, it was completely different. Not bad different, but it completely changed the meaning of the title.

I haven’t had a chance to read any more of Matheson’s work although I’m particularly curious to read Somewhere in Time and What Dreams May Come having already seen both movies.

Any other Matheson fans? What would you suggest I read next?


Definitely not zombies.

8 thoughts on “Richard Matheson

  1. mikes75 says:

    As a huge Matheson fan, his short stories are his best work. Nightmare at 20,000 Feet (which was the basis for the famous Twilight Zone episode with William Shatner) is great, as is The Shrinking Man. What Dreams May Come and Bid Time Return are great stories, but he gets very metaphysical in them, which makes them divisive to some.



  2. jubilare says:

    Would you recommend this author to someone like me who loves suspense and the chill-up-the-spine of some freakish stories, but who is also relatively easily traumatized? I can’t really watch several episodes of Doctor Who unless I want a relapse… thanks for that, Moffat…


    • Mary says:

      Absolutely! I, too, am easily traumatized and have been since I was a child (I was forbidden from reading Goosebumps when it became clear that I was too frightened to go upstairs until someone else went up before me and turned the lights on. I still sneaked into my sister’s room to read them every chance I got but that’s another story). I suppose this is the unpleasant side effect of having an overactive imagination! If you are familiar with Ray Bradbury’s more unsettling stories I think you should be fine but I have always found that as long as stories like this are not the last thing I read (or see) at night, then their effect on me is weakened.


      • jubilare says:

        Yep, an active imagination carries all kinds of consequences, but I wouldn’t want to be without it! 😉

        Which Bradburys do you consider most unsettling?


      • Mary says:

        Oh goodness. Where to begin? The October Country is an entire collection of some of his creepiest, including “The Small Assassin”. “The Veldt” is a well known one. “The Garbage Collector.” “The Fog Horn.” “The Town Where No One Got Off.” “The Scythe.” “Trapdoor.”

        Ha, I could go on. Bradbury has been the love of my literary life since I first read him in middle school. I think his skill lies primarily in the fact that he, and Matheson, can take ordinary, mundane events and turn them sinister in a heartbeat.

        Have you read much by Bradbury?


  3. jubilare says:

    I’ve read The Veldt, Fahrenheit 451, The Night, and perhaps other shortstories, but I would not say I’ve read “much” because he wrote so much more than I’ve seen. I’ve liked what I’ve read, though. Maybe I should go pick up more Bradbury from the library before I move on to Matheson. 🙂


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