Richard Matheson is no stranger to having his written works adapted into movies. I Am Legend starring Will Smith or The Box – which was an adaptation of Button, Button – starring Cameron Diaz and James Marsden. This new collection of stories which drops on September 27th 2011 is no different. The first story in this collection, “Steel,” is what the new Hugh Jackman movie, Real Steel, is based on.
However, in this reader’s opinion, “Steel” is one of the weaker stories in this stellar collection of many yet unpublished Matheson short stories. Several of them have an air of familiarity, and for good reason: One was adapted into a Twilight Zone episode, while another – “The Splendid Source” – appeared in a Family Guy episode. That being said, Matheson’s story telling abilities are magnificent, even in the works that are only a few short pages.
Many of those contained in this collection are thinly veiled parables, warning the reader against anything and everything from mindless superstitions in “The Wedding” to a commentary on teenage impetuousness in “The Conqueror.” Nearly every story in this collection has some deeper meaning, some allegorical point to make, and for that very reason, Matheson deserves his recent induction into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. While some stories are borderline comedic, others are vastly disturbing, echoing an almost Kubrick-ian pathos which will set your teeth on edge.
Despite the collection of short stories being over 300 pages, this reader finished the whole book in a few short hours, as the imagery, crafted storytelling, and ease of language makes you flip page after page. From harrowing post-apocalyptic tales blanched in anguish and distaste to a prophetic dissertation warning us about nuclear war, Matheson plays every position in this collection of rare and unpublished work – showing us he is capable of comedy, sci-fi and even creating modern-day parables.
It’s relatively easy reading which veneers over hard to digest concepts. Read it…
4/5 Slugs of Steel