Richard Matheson, one of the greatest fantasists of the 20th Century, entered the world 90 years ago (February 20, 1926) in Allendale, New Jersey. When we lost him (June 23, 2013), I paid tribute to him, as did many others.
Matheson is best known for scripting some of the best Twilight Zone episodes, horror movies for Roger Coran, and his novels The Shrinking Man and most especially I Am Legend. I read that book about 35 years ago, give or take a year. I really need to revisit it.
But it was Matheson’s short stories that really caught my attention. He was a master of the short form, and it broke my heart that he quite writing them later in his life. He could take an idea, usually a one with a dark twist, and punch you in the gut with it. And you would enjoy it and want another.
There’s a tendency, which seems especially prevalent these days, for writers to drop out of print shortly after their deaths. This is true even of writers who were considered giants in their fields while they were alive. A number of writers come to mind: Asimov, Heinlein, MacDonald (John D. and Ross). These guys all have some titles in print, but good luck finding the bulk of their work in new additions.
I sincerely hope that Matheson (who is still in print) doesn’t suffer such a fate.