Friday, March 14, 2008

Aaron's Book of The Week :: I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

I Am LegendThe Book of the Week is the first printing, paperback original edition of I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, printed in July 1954 by Gold Medal Books, cover art by Stan Meltzoff.

This was a highly collectible vintage paperback even before the success of the recent Will Smith movie. That film was the third film adaptation of I Am Legend. Will Smith's role of Robert Neville, the last man on earth, was previously played by Vincent Price in The Last Man on Earth (1964) and by Charlton Heston in The Omega Man (1971). I'd say the recent film was the best of the three versions -- although many viewers fondly remember The Omega Man, it has not aged terribly well.

Richard Matheson has generally fared much better in Hollywood than most science fiction and fantasy writers. Even if you don't recognize his name, you would recognize some of his creations that have appeared on the screen: that creature staring at William Shatner / John Lithgow through the window of an airplane (The Twilight Zone); the vicious little doll attacking Karen Black (Trilogy of Terror); the creepy ghost girl appearing to Kevin Bacon (Stir of Echoes); the possessed cat in The Legend of Hell House; the faceless truck driver menacing Dennis Weaver (Duel, Steven Spielberg's first film); reporter Darren McGavin taking on vampires and succubi to get the story (Kolchak: The Night Stalker); Christopher Reeve willing himself through time to meet Jane Seymour (Somewhere in Time); Robin Williams traveling into the underworld to save his wife's soul (What Dreams May Come); Barbara Eden realizing that her unborn child is controlling her actions (The Stranger Within), and many more.

Next week's BOTW will be another early Richard Matheson novel, his very first book to be adapted to film.


michael a. gonzales said... your site.

Fantastic Reviews said...


Looking forward to The Darker Mask. You have a great group of tocmates there: Walter Mosley, Steven Barnes, Tananarive Due, L.A. Banks, . . .