Friday, July 28, 2006

"I Am Legend" and Stephen King

Stephen King has written a new introduction to Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend.

It is not clear to me when this series will be available in the U.S., but you may read an edited version of King's essay--as well as an excerpt from I Am Legend--here.

According to King,
[Matheson] single-handedly regenerated a stagnant genre, rejecting the conventions of the pulps that were already dying, incorporating sexual impulses and images into his work as Theodore Sturgeon had already begun to do in his science fiction, and writing a series of gut-bucket short stories. What do I remember about them? I remember what they taught me; the same thing that rock’s most recent regenerator, Bruce Springsteen, articulates in one of his songs, no retreat, baby, no surrender. I remember that Matheson would never give ground. When you thought it had to be over, that your nerves couldn’t stand any more, that was when Matheson turned on the afterburners. He wouldn’t quit. He was relentless. The baroque intonations of Lovecraft, the perfervid prose of the pulps, the sexual innuendoes, were all absent. You were faced with so much pure drive that only rereadings showed Matheson’s wit, cleverness, and control.
Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend is one of U.K. publisher Gollancz’s new series “the ten greatest sci-fi novels of all time,” with new introductions by contemporary writers.

The other books in the series are: The Dispossessed, by Ursula le Guin; The Stars my Destination, Alfred Bester; Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes; The Forever War, Joe Haldeman; Cities in Flight, James Blish; Ubik, Philip K. Dick; Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny; Gateway, Frederik Pohl; The Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut.

I Am Legend is slated to appear at a big screen near you in 2007. Will Smith will star; the screenplay is by Akiva Goldsman. Originally, a film based on the book was going to be made in the 1990s with Arnold Schwarzenegger starring and Ridley Scott directing. The budget became too expensive and they both left the project to pursue other projects.

Looking for more science fiction recommendations? Click here.

--Marshal Zeringue