Author Richard Matheson, whose work in the science fiction and horror genres left an indelible mark on pop culture, passed away Monday at age 87.
According to publisher Tor/Forge, the announcement came from Matheson’s daughter Ali Marie Matheson (via author John Shirley) in a private Facebook post:
“My beloved father passed away yesterday at home surrounded by the people and things he loved…he was funny, brilliant, loving, generous, kind, creative, and the most wonderful father ever…I miss you and love you forever Pop and I know you are now happy and healthy in a beautiful place full of love and joy you always knew was there…”
Born in Allendale, N.J., in 1926 and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., Matheson is best known for his works “I Am Legend,” “What Dreams May Come,” “The Shrinking Man” and the short story “Duel,” as well as writing for “Star Trek” and “The Twilight Zone.”
Matheson’s first published story “Born of Man and Woman,” appeared in “The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction” in 1950. And over the course of six decades, his writing had big ideas and high concepts, but the Science Fiction Hall of Fame inductee (and Lifetime Achievement honoree from both the Bram Stoker and World Fantasy Awards) imbued his work with humanity. Not surprisingly, that work became rich material for the Hollywood machine.
In addition to “I Am Legend,” which was adapted four times into films – and was borrowed from in George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” – “The Legend of Hell House,” “The Incredible Shrinking Man,” “Real Steel,” “Stir of Echoes,” “The Box,” “Somewhere in Time,” “What Dreams May Come” and “Duel” were all based on Matheson’s material. He also wrote 14 episodes of Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone,” including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” which starred William Shatner. Matheson wrote again for Shatner, but this time on the “Star Trek” episode “The Enemy Within.” His work was additionally adapted for Serling’s “Night Gallery” and he wrote two TV movies for “The Night Stalker” before it became “Kolchak: The Night Stalker” series.
Richard Matheson heavily influenced Stephen King,“The X-Files” creator Chris Carter and, of course, George A. Romero. Following news of his death, creators such as Edgar Wright, Joe Hill, Seth Grahame-Smith, Steve Niles and more took to Twitter to offer tributes to the late author:
If it's true that the great Richard Matheson has passed away, 140 characters can't begin cover what he has given the sci fi & horror genre.— edgarwright (@edgarwright) June 24, 2013
Never met Richard Matheson, but his stories have been life companions. Books are human souls, in analog form. Go read his.— Joe Hill (@joe_hill) June 24, 2013
Richard Matheson. A towering genius and lifelong favorite. Sci-Fi and Horror fans everywhere owe him their gratitude. RIP.— Seth Grahame-Smith (@sethgs) June 24, 2013
RIP Richard Matheson. I can't even begin to describe what this man meant to me. I'm heartbroken right now. Godspeed, Mr. Matheson.— Steve Niles (@SteveNiles) June 24, 2013