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
See more books from this Author
Published May 14, 2011
Religion & Spirituality, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction.