Richard Matheson, a prolific science fiction, fantasy and horror writer, died Sunday, June 25th, 2013 at the age of 87.
He was well-known as a versatile writer working in many fields that are often considered to be incompatible: we wrote 25 novels, a number of screenplays for film and television as well as about a hundred short stories. His most famous work, however, has been written pretty early in his career – it is a 1954 horror/science fiction novel I Am Legend. The novel takes a peculiar look at mythology and mythical creatures. Telling the story of the last man on Earth where an unknown epidemic turned every other human being into a vampire, it asks the reader the question: what is the norm? If everybody has turned into a monster wouldn’t the last remaining human be a monster for these new ‘normal’ citizens? This novel proved to be so breathtaking and popular that it has been filmed three times, last time only recently, in 2007.
It, however, wasn’t the only instance of Matheson’s works making it to the silver screen: such novels as What Dreams May Come, Bid Time Return, The Comedy of Terrors, The Beardless Warriors and a number of others have also been filmed, and their movie versions sometimes proved to be no less popular than the originals.
In addition to that, Matheson took part in creating screenplays for many TV shows and films, both based on his prose and written from scratch. He, for example, wrote for such shows as ”The Twilight Zone” and “Star Trek”. For his work he received numerous awards, including the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement and Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement. Ironically, the week he died he was supposed to receive yet another award, this time from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films. A lot of people who previously worked with Matheson on movies and TV shows, as well as those who were of high opinion about him and his prose have reacted to the news of his death by saying that they will miss him and his work.
In his books Matheson dealt with a vast majority of topics, settings and characters and managed to create cult following among the fantasy and science fiction fans as well as professional writers: among the people who openly acknowledged his influence on their work are Stephen King and Anne Rice.
His son, Richard Christian Matheson, commented on the news about his death by characterizing his father as a monumental figure in all the aspects of his personality: starting with him as a writer and ending with him as a father and a friend.