I was very sad to hear of Richard Matheson’s passing last month, the latest in a long line of genre legends that we’ve lost recently (Ray Bradbury, Basil Copper, James Herbert, Ray Harryhausen and Iain Banks to name but a few). I was hoping to meet Richard in October (he was due to be one of our Guests of Honour at the World Fantasy Convention), because his work has had not only a massive impact on the genre in general, but also me personally.
I remember the first time I read I Am Legend and realised how you could do something very different with a familiar subject, such as vampires. In fact, you could argue that the creatures in his book are also the progenitors of our modern-day zombies as well. Certainly without Legend, there would be no Night of the Living Dead, or even World War Z – with its premise of the infected dead. The story certainly had an impact on me, something that can be seen very early on in my fiction writing career in a story called ‘Alone’, published in a magazine called Hidden Corners and reprinted in my hardback collection Shadow Writer a couple of years ago.
The influence of that book, which remains my favourite of Matheson’s – as much as I love The Shrinking Man, What Dreams May Come… I could go on and on – can also be seen in not one, but three of my most recent publications. Last year’s Lunar, which I’m currently turning into a feature script, is actually dedicated the author because of the impact of his work on me. Anyone who has read this novel cannot fail to see the inspiration point, especially when they read the sections where the Loons are tracking or attacking my hero, Nick Skinner – similarly apparently left alone to deal with this nightmare.
The Spaces Between from Dark Moon includes my trilogy ‘Dead Time’ – a very special story for me as it was adapted for network TV in the States – ‘Dead Reckoning’ and ‘Dead End’, while my short novel Sleeper(s) from Crystal Lake – a modern reworking of Sleeping Beauty which also owes a lot to films like Outbreak, Inception and The Andromeda Strain – has infected townspeople rising up en masse to attack the humans sent in to try and cure them…
It would have been nice to have told Richard how much his fiction meant to me, and I know from the tributes that have been cropping up online that I’m just the tip of the iceberg in this respect. As I said on my Facebook wall the day after I found out, the genre has lost another true legend.
I’m very excited to say that on 27th July at Forbidden Planet’s London Megastore, we’ll be launching my new co-edited anthology Beyond Rue Morgue (featuring new stories revolving around Poe’s detective, Dupin), and joining me to sign copies will be contributors Mike Carey, Stephen Volk, Lisa Tuttle and Simon Clark. The fun kicks off at 1pm and then at 2, we’ll be moving to the Spice of Life for well-earned drinks afterwards. In the meantime, the book is launching in America next week and there’ll be various promotional things to celebrate that as well, so keep checking the Shadow Writer site for details.
While we’re still on the subject of anthologies, I’m very proud of my lovely wife Marie whose Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women has just been nominated – short-listed – for a British Fantasy Award. And quite rightly too, it’s a wonderful collection of classic and new ghost stories by some of the most talented female voices in the industry. Congratulations to everyone not just in this category, but in all of them. The winners will be announced at the aforementioned World Fantasy Convention in Brighton. Hope to see some of you there, and in London!
Enjoy the sun while it lasts!