by Richard Matheson
First collection? No.
Richard Matheson was born on February 20, 1926 in Allendale,
New Jersey, U.S.A. Among his best-selling novels are I am Legend, The Shrinking Man (a.k.a. The
Incredible Shrinking Man), What Dreams May Come and Stir of Echoes.
His collected stories fill three volumes, so far. He is also a prolific
author of screenplays and scripts for classic television series such as
The Twilight Zone. He has been honored with the Edgar, the Spur and
Writers Guild awards and the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement.
you push the button,' Mr. Steward told him, 'somewhere in the world,
someone you don't know will die. In return for which you will receive a
payment of fifty thousand dollars.'
Norma stared at the small man. He was smiling.
are you talking about?' Arthur asked him.
Mr. Steward looked surprised.
I've just explained,' he said. "
Reviewed by Carol Reid
Like Ray Bradbury and Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson is one of a
handful of SF writers who both epitomize and transcend the genre. As a
raconteur of ordinary folks thrust into extraordinary situations, no
one spins a yarn like Matheson.
Readers who dip into this collection will quite possibly get a strong
sense of déjà lu . So many of these stories have appeared in other
collections and anthologies; others have been filmed for the silver and
the small screen. The most casual fan of speculative fiction is likely
to know Matheson's work if not his name.
The title story, Button Button,
delivers a one-two punch of story and character in Matheson's trademark
unadorned prose. Would you commit murder if there were no chance of
being caught? All you have to do is press the button.
In Girl of my Dreams, a
hapless woman with a psychic gift is exploited by her abusive partner.
This is a brutal, ugly tale, barely redeemed by a nightmarish
conclusion. Dying Room Only is
a coiled spring of a story which might make readers reconsider that
upcoming road trip. Suspicion and xenophobia abound here.
A Flourish of
Strumpets and Clothes Make
the Man are lighter pieces which reveal flashes of a wry,
playful, often gallows humor.
To me the most memorable and remarkable
story in the collection is the heartbreaking post-apocalyptic tale Pattern for Survival
whose main character orchestrates a palatable
existence in an unusual and profoundly human way.
These are "what if…"
stories of the highest order, which back up Ray Bradbury's comment that
he considers the author "one of the most important writers of the 20th
century". And for good or ill, Stephen King points the finger at
Richard Matheson for being "the author who influenced me most as a
an excerpt from a story
from this collection on Tor Books