By Steve Vertlieb: Born February 20th, 1926, Richard Matheson was one of a small handful of science fiction/fantasy writers whose profound, subtle prose elevated the genre to sublime eloquence. He was one of my very favorite writers from childhood until the present. Along with Howard Phillips Lovecraft, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Rod Serling, Charles Beaumont, Ray Russell and, more recently, James Herbert, these imaginative authors influenced my life more significantly than I will ever be able to adequately impart.
Among the most prolific, creative and celebrated writers of the original Twilight Zone television series, he was a poet who was blessed with the gift of imagination. I had the honor of meeting him once very briefly in Crystal City, Virginia, at Forry Ackerman’s 1993 Famous Monsters convention. We both shared a long friendship with Robert Bloch.
One of my proudest possessions is a photograph taken of the three of us at that wonderful convention. His sensitivity and grace dwelt in the ethereal, as evidenced by the haunting vocal soliloquy voiced by Robert Scott Carey during the unforgettable final moments of The Incredible Shrinking Man…
“I looked up, as if somehow I would grasp the heavens. The universe, worlds beyond number, God’s silver tapestry spread across the night. And in that moment I knew the answer to the riddle of the infinite. That existence begins and ends is man’s conception, not nature’s. And I felt my body dwindling, melting, becoming nothing. My fears melted away, and in their place came acceptance. All this vast majesty of creation, it had to mean something. And, then, I meant something too. Yes, smaller than the smallest, I meant something too. To God, there is no zero. I still exist.”
In your vast majesty of creation, Mr. Matheson, you still exist. Your words shall continue to breathe life into this often drab, mortal plane of creative thought and energy for as long as meaning and beauty endure. To God, there is no zero. You shall ever continue to create…in our hearts, and in our thoughts. Rest well, for true existence has only just begun…Somewhere In Time
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Richard Matheson wrote the story that terrified me more than any other: “Through Channels.” After reading that story I was frightened for weeks, and would creep downstairs and look into the living room to see the flickering of the black and white television, late at night, and to my relief see that my grandparents were, each night, still alive.
Growing up my big three were Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch and Richard Matheson. Matheson’s novels, short stories, teleplays and screenplays made for marvelous reading and viewing, and stand the test of time. He is Legend.