Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, September 18, 2015


He Is Legend:  An Anthology Celebrating Richard Matheson edited by Christopher Conlon (2009)

Richard Matheson...I Am Legend, The Shrinking Man, "Duel," The Night Stalker, Somewhere in Time, Hell House, fourteen episodes of the original The Twilight Zone (including "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," "The Invaders, and "Steel"), winner of  the Hugo, Edgar, Writers Guild, Emmy, Golden Globe, World Fantasy, Spur, and Bram Stoker Awards (among many others), an acknowledged major influence on Stephen King and many other writers...yeah, this guy is a legend.

He Is Legend contains fifteen original stories by major fantasy writers, each based on or influenced by Matheson's work.  Joe Hill and Stephen King start things off on a grand scale with the outstanding "Throttle," a tale of a homicidal trucker taking out a motorcycle gang with his semi.  Another high point of the anthology is Nancy A. Collins' "Return to Hell House," which tells of Benjamin Fischer's first encounter with the murderous Belasco House.  Both stories do Matheson an honor by going beyond horror to an examination of human motives and character.  (Matheson himself eschewed the term "horror," preferring instead "terror," a term that adds a human element to the genre.)

The contents:
  • Editor's Note
  • Forward:  "Matheson the Master" by Ramsey Campbell
  • "Throttle" by Joe Hill and Stephen king (inspired by "Duel")
  • "Recalled" by F. Paul Wilson (a sequel to "The Distributor")
  • "I Am Legend, Too" by Mick Garris (a prequel to I Am Legend}
  • "Two Shots from Fly's Photo Gallery" by John Shirley (a sequel to Somewhere in Time)
  • "The Diary of Louise Carey" by Thomas F. Monteleone (a variation on The Shrinking Man)
  • "She Screech Like Me" by Michael A. Arnzen (a sequel to "Born of Man and Woman")
  • "Everything of Beauty Taken from You in This Life Remains Forever" by Gary A. Braunbeck (a sequel to "Button, Button")
  • "The Case of Peggy Ann Lister" by John Maclay (a sequel to Someone is Bleeding
  • "Zachry Revisited" by William F. Nolan (a sequel to "The Children of Noah")
  • "Comeback" by Ed Gorman (a tale inspired by "Finishing Touches")
  • "An Island Unto Himself" by Barry Hoffman ( a variation on "Disappearing Act")
  • "Venturi" by Richard Christian Matheson (a tale inspired by "Legion of Plotters")
  • "Quarry" by Joe R. Lansdale (a sequel to "Prey")
  • "Return to Hell House" by Nancy A. Collins (a prequel to Hell House)
  • "Cloud Rider" by Whitley Strieber (a tale inspired by Collected Stories)
Good stories all, the weakest being the Strieber, which veers direction and mood halfway through the story, somewhat diluting an otherwise very readable tale.

Highly recommended.


  1. Now you've gone and done it. In L.A. with the family, 1960, we drove out from Wisconsin for the Rose Bowl game and to visit my dad's brother. We're riding with Uncle Jordan down Sunset Boulevard (or is it called Sunset Strip?) when my dad and I had to pee. Urgently (don't ask me what led up to that--if I remembered it would be part of this story). Jordan parked across Sunset from a filling station. (it was at nite, undoubtedly a miracle we both made it across all 4 lanes). While we're in the pisser some drunk starts pounding on the door. We finish, zip up and exit. By then the drunk, unable to hold it any longer, is peeing in some nearby bushes. Back in the car, Uncle Jordan is laughing. "Know who that was?" he said. "That was Darrin McGavin." His show, Yancy Derringer, had just been canceled, his wife had kicked him out and he was living with his sister. (Jordan was an L.A. lawyer and knew all this stuff). 12 years later, McGavin sobered up and landed his defining role. First the movie, then the series: Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Didn't know until just now that Richard Matheson wrote the movie's screenplay.

    Thanks for pricking that old memory!

    1. I forgot to add that McGavin was muttering all the while, during the pounding and then the peeing. He was a world-class mutterer.

  2. Mathew, my wife's parents had a summer place on a lake on Cape Cod. We don't know exactly what happened but one day either her older brother swam into McGavin's boat or McGavin's boat ran into him. Either way, McGavin (who was appearing in a show in Hyannis) was mad at Kitty's brother. Alcohol may have been involved.

  3. I've always enjoyed McGavin in any role I've seen. The cancelled show you cited, Mathew, wasn't YANCY DERRINGER (which starred Jock Mahoney -- who had his own problems); it was probably MIKE HAMMER (cancelled in 1959) or RIVERBOAT (cancelled in 1961). Of the two, RIVERBOAT was not much of a loss.

    McGavin, BTW, also played Sam Parkhill in Matheson's 3-part television adaptation of Ray Bradbury's THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES.

  4. Ah, Mumbles McGavin doth live on, in our memories at least, dost he not (did I really write that?). You're so right about the other shows. I shoulda Googled him instead of Night Stalker. According to IMDb, Hammer aired from '58-'59, and Riverboat from '59-'61. The Rose Bowl game was in '60. So McGavin shoulda been in the clover--unless Uncle Jordan knew a secret. I never saw the Martian Chronicles series ('80). Wonder if there's a DVD? Thanks for setting me straight.