Charles Beaumont was born this day in 1929. He passed away in 1967. Beaumont was a protege of Ray Bradbury and a central figure in what’s come to be called the California School. Other members were Richard Matheson, William F. Nolan, Chad Oliver, and the late George Clayton Johnson. Johnson’s story “Your Three Minutes Are Up” is a tribute to his friend.
Beaumont is best remembered today for penning a number of scripts for Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone. He also wrote the novel The Intruder which was filmed by Roger Corman and starred William Shatner.
Beaumont’s strengths lay in short stories. I came across a slim volume when I was a sophomore in high school; I bought it on the strength of Ray Bradbury’s introduction and read it during a move across the state. Not all of the stories worked for me. Some of them were aimed for a more mature reader. I don’t mean “mature” in terms of sexual content (although that was part of it) but that the themes weren’t something a young teen could relate to.
On the other hand, the stories that did resonate with me blew me away. I was hooked and spent years haunting used book stores trying to find all of his collections. In addition to being the epitome of a professional working writer, Beaumont was an avid race fan. He and Nolan often raced.
Beaumont’s death is usually attributed to some type of early-onset Alzheimer’s. He began to age swifty at the age of 34. His loss was deeply felt.
Centipede Press recently published The Intruder, crime thriller Run From the Hunter (written collaboratively with John Tomerlin), and a massive collection of short fiction, Mass for Mixed Voices (which sold out almost immediately, and no, I won’t loan you my copy.) This past year penguin published Perchance to Dream: Selected Stories. Also available is the collection A Touch of the Creature, which contains all the stories in the limited edition published by Subterranean Press (2000) along with three more. These stories weren’t collected during Beaumont’s lifetime.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going reread some Beaumont short stories. Please turn out the light when you leave…on second thought, better not.