Mediums Rare by Richard Matheson

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Synopsis

Prolific screenwriter and genre novelist Richard Matheson has long maintained an interest in all matters relating to parapsychology, telepathy, ESP and other paranormal activity. His brief and elegantly printed new volume amounts to a lightly fictionalized history as well as quick, evocative episodes of paranormal activity from Greek antiquity all the way through renowned American psychic Edgar Cayce.

Most of the episodes in this book depict the famous seers, mediums and performers of the nineteenth-century, whose feats Matheson clearly admires. Margaret and Kate Fox, aged ten and seven, in 1848 convinced their parents and many other Americans that they were in touch with ghosts in a haunted house. (Matheson notes that the adult Margaret recanted, explaining how she herself produced the ghosts' mysterious rapping noises: he believes the recantation fake, arranged by the sisters' enemies.)

Civil War-era medium Nettie Colburn instructed President Lincoln to visit his troops; Matheson thinks she channeled the deceased statesman Daniel Webster. New England mediums "Mrs. Leonard and Mrs. Piper" underwent elaborate tests in an effort to prove that their psychic connections were in fact genuine; William James, for one, was impressed. Harry Houdini used his great stage-magic to unmask a bevy of psychic frauds; Matheson describes some, then discusses what he believes are genuine paranormal experiences that are linked to Houdini.

Matheson's afterword repeats his confident claims that the powers he describes are very real and he pleads for a serious study of them. Fans of parapsychology or of Matheson's other works should enjoy this lively exploration of great topics that inform the genre and have become legendary.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Richard Burton Matheson (born February 20, 1926) is an American author and screenwriter working primarily in the fantasy, horror, and science fiction genres. Between 1950 and 1971, Matheson produced dozens of stories, frequently combining elements from the different genres in which he works, making important contributions to the further development of modern horror. Matheson wrote fourteen episodes for the American television series The Twilight Zone, including the famous "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." Notably, Steven Spielberg's first full length film (made for television) was based on the story "Duel," for which Matheson also wrote the screenplay.

Matheson's first novel, Someone is Bleeding, was published in 1953. His thirty novels since then include The Shrinking Man (filmed as The Incredible Shrinking Man, again adapted from Matheson's own screenplay), and a science fiction/vampire novel, I Am Legend (made into film as The Last Man on Earth, 1964, The Omega Man, 1971, and

I Am Legend, 2007).

A new film based on Matheson's story "Steel," entitled Real Steel, is a major motion picture that was released in October 2011. His most recent novel, Other Kingdoms, appeared in March 2011.

According to film critic Roger Ebert, Matheson's scientific approach to the supernatural in I Am Legend and other novels from the 1950s and '60s anticipated the "pseudorealistic fantasy novels like Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist." In 2010, Matheson was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, and Stephen King has cited Matheson as a creative influence; his novel Cell is dedicated to Matheson along with filmmaker George A. Romero. Author Anne Rice has said that Matheson's short story, "A Dress of White Silk" was a primary early influence on her interest in vampires and fantasy fiction.
 

About Richard Matheson

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Richard Matheson was born February 20th, 1926 in New Jersey. He started writing at the age of eight, and earned a degree in journalism in New York and Missouri and saw action during World War II. In 1950 he first was noticed as an upcoming writer-to-watch, starting with the short story Born of Man and Woman. He went on to produce seven novels and a large collection of short stories for various magazines, including some for Weird Tales and a lot of new Science Fiction magazines that were growing in popularity after the War, includingThe Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Hollywood approached him, asking for rights to his novel The Shrinking Man. Seizing the chance he negotiated the chance to write the screenplay, and he began a long career in screenwriting and adapting. Matheson also scripted some of the best regarded episodes of The Twilight Zone and won an Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1973 for The Night Stalker. He has also won the World Fantasy Convention's Life Achievement Award, the Bram Stoker Award for Life Achievement, the Hugo Award, the Golden Spur Award, and the Writer's Guild Award. Several of Matheson's novels and stories have been made into films, including The Shrinking Man (filmed as "The Incredible Shrinking Man" in 1957), I Am Legend (filmed twice, once as "The Last Man on Earth" starring Vincent Price in 1964, and again as "The Omega Man" starring Charlton Heston in 1971), and Bid Time Return (filmed as "Somewhere in Time" starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour in 1980). Matheson also wrote the scripts for Stephen Spielberg's first feature film, Duel; the TV-movie The Night Stalker; and several of Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe films, including House of Usher (1960), The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), and The Raven (1963). He also wrote the screenplay for Stir of Echoes with Kevin Bacon and What Dreams May Come with Robin Williams.
 
Published May 14, 2011 by RosettaBooks. 124 pages
Genres: Religion & Spirituality, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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