Farewell, Richard Matheson
The author of I am Legend, The Incredible Shrinking Man and many classic Twilight Zone episodes is no more
One of the masters of American science fiction and horror, Richard Matheson, has left is at the age of 87. He had many gifts. But he is, perhaps, most notable for injecting philosophical rigour into pulpy topics. His essential novel I Am Legend, filmed on three occasions, had existentialist fun with the end of the world. Bid Time Return, filmed as Somewhere in Time in 1980, did original things with the time-travel story. But the oddest example of bringing big ideas to unlikely places can be located in his script for The Incredible Shrinking Man. It remains a stonking entertainment: the greatly reduced hero fights giant spiders and warehouse-sized cats. The closing monologue is, however, properly astonishing. There’s also snippets of William Blake in the hero’s efforts to reconcile notions of vastness with his own increasing minuteness. “I still exist!” Take that Jean-Paul Sartre.