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The Shrinking Man

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  5,106 Ratings  ·  320 Reviews
While on holiday, Scott Carey is exposed to a cloud of radioactive spray shortly after he accidentally ingests insecticide. The radioactivity acts as a catalyst for the bug spray, causing his body to shrink at a rate of approximately 1/7 of an inch per day. A few weeks later, Carey can no longer deny the truth: not only is he losing weight, he is also shorter than he was ...more
Paperback, Millennium / Gollancz SF Masterworks #51, 201 pages
Published 2002 by Gollancz / Orion (first published 1956)
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Dune by Frank HerbertDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. DickThe Forever War by Joe HaldemanHyperion by Dan SimmonsRendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
SF Masterworks
43rd out of 171 books — 541 voters
I Am Legend and Other Stories by Richard MathesonHell House by Richard MathesonThe Shrinking Man by Richard MathesonNightmare At 20,000 Feet by Richard MathesonWhat Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson
The Best of Richard Matheson
3rd out of 29 books — 35 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Posted at Shelf Inflicted

After reading about white male privilege, racial oppression, and gender inequality, I found it interesting that I chose to read a book about a man who is losing his height at nearly an inch per week. Not only is he greatly inconvenienced because he can't reach high shelves, he is also losing his power and significance as a man and a human being and reduced to merely survival. It’s an adventure tale, and it has some horror and sci-fi elements. I like how the story didn’t
Richard Matheson took the platform afforded him by his tremendous skill as a writer and used it as a platform to confront a serious and important issue that had been kept hidden for too long....MALE SHRINKAGE

Here was a man that was WAY ahead of his time. Not only was he a gifted writer with an amazing and wide-ranging imagination, but he was also someone who wasn’t afraid to tackle tough and controversial social issues. From general topics like race relations, war and politics to deeply persona
Jan 29, 2013 Lou rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-reads
A Timeless novel, Matheson is such a great writer he writes with many themes undead, ghosts, haunted houses , shrinking man and human endeavors, I only wish he had written more novels, this story is of the highest caliber!
This is a story of survival for one man and his emotional and psychological journey as life slips away from beneath his feet Inch by Inch literally. We follow his realization and self-discovery with this fate put before him.

"He looked at her full body again, feeling breath ca
Kee Queen
Considering this is a Richard Matheson book, an author who is probably best known for his horror stories, I have initial expectations that this was going to be a scary venture in the same manner as Hell House was when I saw the movie as a child and later on read the book. But in the first fifty pages or so of this novel, my expectations were met in a different way yet it was also something more satisfying which could be what Matheson has intended when he wrote it.

The Shrinking Man tells the sto
Wayne Barrett
Jan 13, 2016 Wayne Barrett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, classics, sci-fi, 2015

Thoroughly enjoyed this story.

Scott Carey is shrinking 1/7th of an inch a day until he reaches a point where he knows he will shrink to nothing. But even this knowledge cannot prepare him for the unknown world that awaits him.

There were some truly horrifying moments in this story but the real power was the perspective it gave, not from just one, but from constant viewpoints during his transformation. I don't know what was worse; fleeing from a black widow that was the same size as him or lying w
Kat  Hooper
May 14, 2011 Kat Hooper rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Every day Scott Carey is getting shorter by 1/7 of an inch. The doctors have figured out why -- he was exposed to a combination of insecticide and radioactivity -- but so far they have not been able to make him stop shrinking. Now Scott is only one inch tall and he is trapped in the cellar of his family's rented home with a stale piece of bread, an out-of-reach box of crackers, a sponge, a garden hose, a water heater, and a black widow spider. And in seven
The Shrinking Man is a really good book, in the sense of its horrifying idea, style of narration, its meticulous description whenever required, and its hidden sub-layer. This was Mr. Matheson's first story that I read, being amongst his earliest written works.

The book initiates with a very small chapter, which in short, describes the causes of the protagonist's initiation of shrinkage; and continues while he is 5/7th of an inch tall with the following chapter. The story then interweaves with two
Mar 27, 2011 Alazzar rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Thank God it’s over.

I wanted to like this book. I really did. From the moment I saw the cover (a tiny man fending off a spider with a spear-sized needle—how awesome is that?), I wanted to read this story by an author I thought could do no wrong.

When I had 5 pages left, I almost stopped reading. Not because I was disappointed with the direction of the plot, but because I just couldn’t take it anymore.

The Shrinking Man is the story of Scott Carey, AKA “The Flash” from DC Comics. (I figure he must
Sep 26, 2011 Lou rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-reads
Timeless novel Matheson is such a great writer most of his novels written in the 50s it can outdo many of today's stories. He writes with many themes the undead, ghosts, haunted houses , and human endeavours, I only wish he wrote more novels this story is of the highest calibre! This is a story of survival for one man in this emotional and psychological journey as life slips away from beneath his feet Inch by Inch literally. We follow his realisation and self-discovery with this fate put before ...more
Oct 14, 2016 Chris_P rated it really liked it
For a moment the entire grotesque spectacle of it swept over him forcibly, the insanity of a world where he could be killed trying to climb to the top of a table that any normal man could lift and carry with one hand.

The Shrinking Man. Yeah, the title says it all. What a bold thing it was to write this story at a time when man was the undeniable cornerstone of every home! And what irony to read it today when economic difficulties and rapid social changes have reduced many men to inert members
Dec 04, 2008 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sarah Hadley,
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 30, 2013 Noce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tre millimetri in una cantina (per tacer del ragno)

Alla mia cagnolina sarebbe piaciuto questo libro. Tantissimo. Leggendolo, mi avrebbe chiamato e avrebbe puntato la zampottina sui passi più sofferti, giusto per farmi capire che è veramente poco cortese, e anche di cattivo gusto che io assuma quell’espressione divertita quando la vedo districarsi scocciata da un ciuffo d’erba. Io avrei fatto mea culpa, e avrei ammesso che è vero, ok, non dev’essere divertente misurare quanto un secchiello dell’u
Lo que hace Richard Matheson con ‘El increíble hombre menguante’ no es nada fácil. El mérito de Matheson radica en hacer creíble una historia a todas luces fantástica, la de un hombre que va menguando día a día; y lo hace tan bien que sufres con el protagonista y con todos los obstáculos y padecimientos por los que pasa, en una gran labor por parte de Matheson en la construcción psicológica del personaje.

La historia comienza con una especie de nube radiactiva (un recurso muy de moda en los años
It's kind of nice when the title of a book is also a perfect, if brief, description of the plot. The shrinking man of the title is Scott, who is shrinking exactly 1/7 of an inch every day. We're watching him during his last week before vanishing entirely, trapped in a basement with little food or water and stalked by an enormous (to him) black widow. Exactly how he got to be this size is shown through a series of flashbacks.

In a way, it's almost like two books. One is a tediously, almost painful
Books like this are the exact reason I no longer read much science fiction. I prefer a fantastical viewpoint - i.e. "it's works that way because it's magic!" to a pseudo-scientific explanation that doesn't make a bit of sense.

Why does Scott Carey shrink at the rate of 1/7 of an inch a day? Well... he was sprayed by radioactive insecticide and the radiation caused the insecticide to mutate and ... wait ... something non-living can mutate? Since when? Ok, well, ignore that bit. See, this insectic
Oct 19, 2014 Skip rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Not impressed. The main character, Scott Carey, is whiney and lacks motivation for doing anything. His main nemesis, the spider, was more conceptual, than real, with only one short battle. The secondary characters were weak and mostly non-existent. His wife, child, even the Tom Thumb character at the circus were boring. It took more than half of the book to explain why he was shrinking an inch per day, and then you were left hanging at the end. Skip it.
Charlie Collins
Jun 01, 2016 Charlie Collins rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror, classic, sci-fi

Great, scary little book. Quite an ordeal, survival in a world not made for your new size and a giant spider making your attempt a living hell. The end of the book left me with a different perspective on my surrounding world and my life within it. Pretty cool stuff.
May 16, 2016 Roberto rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

Non fa per me

Il protagonista di questo romanzo di fantascienza è condannato a rimpicciolire di tre millimetri ogni giorno.

Sempre più piccolo, sempre più piccolo. Cosa succederà quando arriverà a zero?

Ecco, il punto è questo. Che ho passato 250 pagine a pensare che non mi interessasse granché sapere ciò che poteva succedere.

Il libro non è riuscito a coinvolgermi, una lotta per la sopravvivenza che mi ha annoiato. Mi ha ricordato "Non conosco il tuo nome", dove il protagonista per una strana malat
Nicole Romine
Sep 18, 2010 Nicole Romine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
This is a grim story that explores a man’s desire to live despite the inevitable end he faces as a shrinking man. As he shrinks, the protagonist, Scott, loses more and more of his power, being victimized by teenage bullies, his own daughter, and ultimately a spider. I thought the story was fascinating and Matheson’s descriptions are so realistic and logical it’s easy to accept Scott’s plight. My only issue with “The Incredible Shrinking Man” is that Scott is an incredibly unlikable character who ...more
May 27, 2009 Candise rated it really liked it
I love this book, I am now reading it for the third time. A man exposed to a toxic substance starts shrinking. It's very believable, all the thoughts and feelings you would experience, how it changes relationships with wife and children, the dangers that exist as each day you become smaller.

I love the ending. No, I won't tell you how it ends.
Benjamin Stahl
Jul 05, 2015 Benjamin Stahl rated it really liked it
For my 200th book - according to Goodreads, anyway - I decided to read something special. I thought I would let myself choose one of the books that I’ve kept on the shelf for ages, have always wanted to read, but have always, for some reason, put off actually reading. To savour the excitement that leads up to reading them. There are lots of books that fit this description for me. But the one I opted for was Richard Matheson’s The Shrinking Man.

Stephen King gave this a glowing review, of sorts,
Stephen Arvidson
Imagine, if you will, both the physical and psychological toll of realizing that you're suddenly shrinking one-sevenths of an inch every day, and understanding that you will continue to reduce in height until you're nothing—wiped from existence. While you were originally of average adult height, in time you become shorter than your wife who finds it difficult to touch you intimately, shorter than your daughter who handles you like one of her dolls, smaller than the family cat that stalks you ...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
Apr 08, 2012 Charles Dee Mitchell rated it it was amazing
The last time I watched Jack Arnold's 1957 film version of this novel, which was four or five years ago, I realized that I remembered every moment of it from the handful of viewings I had given it since it first made it to television in the 1960's. I think it is the definitive science fiction film of the 1950's, and I know that opinion is open to challenges, but Arnold's film has been selected for the National Registry by the National Film Preservation Board. I had never felt the need to read ...more
Mar 15, 2010 Matt rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 18, 2011 Simon rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-masterworks, horror, sf
Matheson does pretty much everything he can to ensure the protagonist is hard to sympathise with for most of the book. He is consumed with rage, bitterness and fury at the hand the universe has dealt him. He is entirely self-absorbed, lashing out at his friends, family and the world. No one understand what he is going through, they all laugh at him behind his back and pity him to his face. He feels belittled in every way, not just physically.

So, I can see why many people might dislike this book.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Per essere un semplice romanzo di fantascienza, non è male. A dire il vero, l’avevo già letto molti anni fa (infatti, il finale me lo ricordavo). Da ragazzina, avevo una discreta collezione di “Urania”, poi andata persa col tempo e i traslochi.

Comunque, tornando al romanzo, ancora non ho letto “Io sono leggenda” (però ho visto il film), ma mi pare che, pur differendo le condizioni al contorno, gli argomenti trattati siano gli stessi. Evidentemente Matheson era interessato a indagare cosa accade
I was looking forward to reading something of Matheson's longer than his short stories, but unfortunately, The Incredible Shrinking Man fell flat for me. The premise is interesting. I watched Honey, I Shrunk the Kids over and over as a child and loved the concept of shrinking, of the way the world would change according to the shift in perspective.

However, I found this book bogged down in tedium. I could appreciate the way it related to classic adventure stories, and the theme of manlihood and a
Sep 21, 2014 Tim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bathroom-buddy
Well, this was no "I Am Legend"...
For most of the book, it was a 2-star book for me, but the second half picked up a good amount. There's just way too much of an emphasis on the main character being so upset that he's not a big man (big M.A.N.) anymore. And then the fallback stuff is that he's so small and a giant spider is stalking him in the basement he is stuck in. Which is kinda fun to read but it just dragged on too much. So, sorry, shrinking guy, I can't get myself to care that your manhoo
Jul 26, 2007 Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great story about a shrinking man. It really puts you in the increasingly larger shoes of a shrinking man. When a friend of mine saw the cover, they aske "is that like a 'Choose Your Own Adventure' book?" You really can't judge a book by it's cover. The narrative jumps around between the shrinking man at roughly an inch battling a giant spider, to various points and sizes leading up to that. Imagine how you would be treated if people thought you were a child, imagine realizing your ...more
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Born in Allendale, New Jersey to Norwegian immigrant parents, Matheson was raised in Brooklyn and graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1943. He then entered the military and spent World War II as an infantry soldier. In 1949 he earned his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and moved to California in 1951. He married in 1952 and has four children, three of ...more
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“Memory was such a worthless thing, really. Nothing it dealt with was attainable. It was concerned with phantom acts and feelings, with all that was uncapturable except in thought. It was without satisfaction. Mostly, it hurt…” 1 likes
“It was more than a spider. It was every unknown terror in the world fused into wriggling, poison-jawed horror. It was every anxiety, insecurity, and fear in his life given a hideous, night-black form.” 1 likes
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