He is Legend
Edited by Christopher Colon

Gauntlet Press, 2009
Hardcover,525 pages, $60.00
Review by Mario Guslandi

A cult writer, author of countless famous stories, Richard Matheson is a living legend whose fiction has been often turned into successful movies for the big screen (Duel, I Am Legend, The Incredible Shrinking Man) or the TV (Born Of Man And Woman, Prey etc).

Editor Christopher Colon and publisher Barry Hoffman (Gauntlet Press) have assembled an anthology of brand new tales inspired by some of Matheson’s more renowned stories. The contributor list includes the likes of F. Paul Wilson, John Shirley, Mick Garris, Thomas F. Monteleone, Michael F. Arnzen, John MaClay, Gary A. Braunbeck, Ed Gorman, William Nolan, Nancy Collins, Joe R. Lansdale, Richard Christian Matheson, Whitley Strieber and the unprecedented duo Stephen King & Joe Hill.

Father and son contribute “Throttle,” their first collaborative work, an outstanding, adrenaline-charged story of pure terror, inspired by Duel, written in a breathtaking narrative style.

Another favorite of mine is the extraordinary “Everything Of Beauty Taken From You In This Life Remains Forever” by Gary A. Braunbeck, (a tribute to “Button Button”), a sorrowful, moving piece exploring in just a few pages the real fabric of human life, the weakness, the pain, the very core of human condition.

Similarly, Nancy Collins’ superb “Return To Hell House” is a fearsome, graphic piece depicting a veritable hell from which it’s hard to escape alive and sane.

F. Paul Wilson provides “Recalled”, the enjoyable tribute to “The Distributor,” portraying the deeds of a mischievous character who brings trouble in a formerly quiet neighbourhood.

John Shirley’s “Two Shots From Fly’s Photo Gallery” (a tribute to “Somewhere In Time”) is an entertaining, soft SF tale where a man time-travelling back to the era of the notorious OK Corral gunfight tries to change history and the destiny of his suicidal wife.

William Noan’s “Zachry Revisited” is the cynic, creepy tribute to “Children Of Noah” while Barry Hoffman’s “An Island Unto Himself” represents an extremely effective variation of “Disappearing Act.”

Ed Gorman presents us with “Comeback”, another of his compelling stories about human frailties, inspired by “The Finishing Touches” and Joe Lansdale (“Quarry”) manages to terrify the reader by nicely renewing the thrilling ferocity of the killing doll of Matheson’s “Prey.”

As a further homage to the genius of Richard Matheson, the book includes the original script of “Conjure Wife,” the adaptation of the Fritz Leiber’s novel that Matheson and Charles Beaumont wrote for the screen, subsequently filmed, in a different version, as Burn Witch Burn.

Whether you are a fan of Richard Matheson or not (but how on earth you could not be?), you will find this anthology an entertaining, quite enjoyable and fully rewarding reading experience.

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