I know I promised to share my own summer reading list today, and I still will...probably tomorrow. But something more important has come to my attention.
Are you familiar with the work of Richard Matheson? You can say no, but you actually mean yes. Sadly for all sci-fi lovers, he passed away on Sunday at the age of 87. Matheson wrote several sci-fi short stories and books, and many of them were adapted for TV and film. He also wrote several well-known episodes of The Twilight Zone (like "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," you know, the one with William Shatner and the monster on the wing of the plane). You may be familiar with I Am Legend (which spawned the dismal Will Smith movie of the same name a few years ago, and a better adaptation called The Omega Man, starring Charleton Heston, in the 70's, with a truly creepy version starring Vincent Price called Last Man on Earth made in the 60's), of maybe Hell House, What Dreams May Come, Stir of Echoes, or the short story "Duel" about a terrifying chase of a motorist by a tractor trailer that was made into a movie in the 70's. His short story "Button, Button" inspired the movie The Box, released a few years ago starring Cameron Diaz and James Marsden. His "Steel," about a boxer who chooses to battle robots himself while the audience is unaware, recently inspired the Hugh Jackman vehicle Real Steel, which I've got to admit I haven't seen (the Twilight Zone episode was good enough for me). He has inspired countless authors, screenwriters, and directors. We wouldn't have the zombie genre if he hadn't inspired George A. Romero, who wrote and directed the original Night of the Living Dead.
So when you think about it, we as a society wouldn't have nearly as many fears and phobias without the persistent creepiness of Matheson's tales for the past half a century plus. He was a wonderful storyteller and he will be missed, though I'm sure that his influence will continue to live on for generations.