Charles Beaumont was born on this date (January 2) in 1920. If you watched The Twilight Zone marathon on the SyFy Channel over the weekend, you probably saw one or two episodes that he wrote. His birthday is often overlooked since he shares it with a more famous author, Isaac Asimov.
Beaumont died way too young in 1967, but he left a mark of the field of the fantastic that still lingers today if you know where to look and what to look for. And not just because he wrote some of the best remembered episodes of The Twilight Zone, either.
Beaumont was mentored by Ray Bradbury and was a central figure in the what became known as the California School that included such writers as Richardson Matheson, Chad Oliver, William F. Nolan, and George Clayton Johnson.
His prose output was mostly short fiction, but what short fiction it was. Beaumont’s stories included humor and compassion mixed with a strong dose of disquiet and fear. And while those things might seem somewhat exclusive, Beaumont could mix them like sugar in iced tea, so that you couldn’t remove any element without taking everything else out with it.
Several collections of Beaumont’s stories are currently available in either print or electronic form. I would suggest starting with this volume (shown left) from Penguin, so if you aren’t familiar with him, check him out.