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The Best of Richard Matheson

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  473 ratings  ·  76 reviews
The first career retrospective of terrifying stories by "one of the greatest writers of the 20th century" (Ray Bradbury), edited by award-winning author Victor LaValle.

Among the greats of 20th-century horror and fantasy, few names stand above Richard Matheson. Though known by many for novels like I Am Legend and his sixteen Twilight Zone episodes, Matheson truly shines in
Paperback, 407 pages
Published November 30th 2017 by Penguin Classics (first published October 10th 2017)
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Mary Claire Born of Man and Woman Prey Witch War Shipshape Home
Blood Son
Where There’s a Will (written with Richard Christian Matheson) Dying Room Only Counterfeit…more
Born of Man and Woman Prey Witch War Shipshape Home
Blood Son
Where There’s a Will (written with Richard Christian Matheson) Dying Room Only Counterfeit Bills Death Ship Dance of the Dead Man with a Club Button, Button Duel Day of Reckoning The Prisoner Dress of White Silk Haircut Nightmare at 20,000 Feet The Funeral Third from the Sun The Last Day Long Distance Call Deus ex Machina One for the Books Now Die in It
The Conqueror The Holiday Man No Such Thing as a Vampire Big Surprise A Visit to Santa Claus Finger Prints Mute Shock Wave(less)

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4.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  473 ratings  ·  76 reviews

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Dan Schwent
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Best of Richard Matheson is a collection of 32 of Matheson's best.

Around the turn of the century, I was enduring the agonizing gulf between Dark Tower books four and five when the local bookstore owner turned me on to Richard Matheson, saying he was one of Stephen King's biggest influences. After devouring one of his westerns and I Am Legend and Other Stories, I was hooked.

After a creepy introduction by Victor LaValle, we're treated to many of Matheson's iconic tales, some of which were turn
Jan 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Almost precisely two years ago, I had some words to say about a then-new anthology that had been released by Penguin Classics: "Perchance to Dream," a 300+-page collection of short stories by the author Charles Beaumont. Flash forward two years, and I am now here to tell you of a 2017 Penguin release that almost serves as a companion volume to that earlier book: "The Best of Richard Matheson," a generous, 400+-page whopper that should come as a welcome treat for fans of the late, great author. I ...more
Christopher Conlon
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Choosing the “best” of a writer—especially a prolific writer—is by its nature problematic. Once editors get past the obvious classics, their choices inevitably become subjective and thus open to criticism, especially from the writer’s most passionate and well-informed fans. In fact, even the inclusion of a writer’s classics can become a bone of contention, as happened two years ago with Penguin’s unfortunate Charles Beaumont volume, “Perchance to Dream”—an anonymously-edited “Selected Stories” i ...more
Callum McAllister
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Neil Gaiman said that "You know his stories, even if you think you don't." I, for one, realised I knew his stories from The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror episodes and "The Scary Door" in Futurama.

In these stories one of the characters is always paranoid about some sort of supernatural phenomena dogging their steps, sabotaging their lives, haunting them in every way -- and then by the end it transpires these things are ridiculous and entirely real. Totally genius.

My favourite stories were "Blood
David Agranoff
It is not Hyperbole to say that Richard Matheson is one of the most important writers of the 20th Century. Ray Bradbury said that and I want to expand on the point. It is not just the novels, or the films and the TV shows. It is all of them. Neil Gaiman nailed it when he said you know his stories even if you don't know him. Weather it is I Am Legend, The Night Stalker, Somewhere in Time or one of his many Twilight Zone episodes. I have met most of my professional heroes and the only time I was e ...more
Jan 13, 2018 rated it liked it
A lot of people (myself included) probably think of Matheson as the author of I Am Legend and little else, though possibly they might also come up with The Shrinking Man. We tend to forget that he was a notably successful screenwriter, with stories for The Twilight Zone and Star Trek amongst others. Some of the short stories in this collection were adapted for the screen such as "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" and "The Duel", a TV movie which was an early success for Steven Spielberg. Both of the l ...more
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
A collection of short stories is always going to be like a box of chocolates...

...some will be like that divine Chocolate Caramel while others will be the Tangy Orange Creme (you know – the one that makes you reach for the chunder bucket, or barf bucket or whatever you call it).

Richard Matheson's Best Of is surprising. I found myself thinking Matheson could have done a lot better for the first story in the anthology, “Born of Man and Woman”. In fact, I abandoned that one. (A definite Tangy Ora
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you’re in the mood for something a bit more classic this season, Penguin has released a new collection of Richard Matheson short stories curated by Victor LaValle (The Ballad of Black Tom, The Changeling.) LaValle, who is as engaging in his academic criticism as he is in his fiction, writes a foreword that instead of just regurgitating biographical facts or obligatory praise, contains an original, creepy-as-hell story from LaValle’s childhood that exemplifies Matheson’s signature motifs of th ...more
Baal Of
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This can't actually be the best of Matheson, since it does not include I Am Legend which is the greatest horror story ever written. But this is a great collection of stories, made even better by Victor LaValle's introduction. There were a few stories I thought were duds that could have been left out, but overall the selection was excellent. Many of these stories are familiar to me both from having read them before, and of course from seeing them as Twilight Zone episodes or movies such as Duel o ...more
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When you read this collection you can truely appreciate the genius that is Richard Matheson. His ability to be able to shift reality a little to left (actual left not politcal left). What if that truck on the highway was actually out to get you, what if the creepy janiter was an alien. When Matheson is at his best he is in that corner of reality where it could be a gremlin on the wing. Matheson is the carpenter of horror/sci-fi world. Everything he does is solid.

And, one more thing I really like
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Richard Matheson is a legend and using these stories as breaks in between novels has been really rewarding. A writer who spanned such a long period of American life, his stories veer between the innocent more Bradbury kind of scary-twist sci-fi to some really truly dark ones. The biggest gap in the collection is the dark gem "The Distributor" and if you can track that story down, you'd read one of the blackest, darkest little stories to come down the pike in many and many a year. But this was a ...more
Dec 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Partial review, having read the following:

Buried Talents 2/5
The Near Departed 2/5
Prey 4/5
Witch War 3/5
Dance of the Dead 3/5
Dress of White Silk 3/5

These pretty much all feel like they could have been episodes of The Twilight Zone, although I don't think any of the above actually were. Matheson did however write 16 episodes. The stories generally have a creepy, supernatural vibe that isn't quite horror, sci-fi, nor fantasy, but somewhere in the dark, grimy cracks between.
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh my goodness, what a wonderful collection of excellent short stories by one of the late greats! Thirty-two stories packed within these 400 pages and almost every single one of them is a gem. If you’re new to Richard Matheson and enjoy short stories then I highly recommend this one!!
Feb 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So many great shorts that bring a chill including several that inspirited great episodes of the Twilight Zone. Well worth a read if you enjoy twisted tails.
Masterful short stories capable of inducing that delicious existential dread we all crave.
Jul 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: shortstories
I didn't like this as much as I expected to, but the story Victor LaValle tells in his introduction is one of the scariest things I've ever read. And it goes without saying that everyone needs to read the story Prey and see the accompanying Trilogy of Terror.
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I will always sing the praises of Penguin Classics. Not only are their translations and endnotes great, but their introductions are excellent sources of intriguing information about the books, the authors, and the historical periods of both.

Except for this one. This particular Penguin Classic had the absolute worst introduction I've ever read. It had very little information about Mr. Matheson or his contributions to the horror genre, which is what I expect from a Penguin Introduction. That lousy
Tim Shaw
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great collection of short stories for a first time Richard Matheson reader. You know him, even if his name does not register at first. Famous for I Am Legend, Duel, The Incredible Shrinking Man and over 16 Twilight Zone episodes (Nightmare at 20,000 Feet was his) before Night Gallery. Stephen King said of him, “He fired my imagination by placing his horrors not in European castles and Lovecraftian universes, but in American scenes I knew and could relate to. “I want to do that,” I thought. “I ...more
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rob Christopher
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
This outstanding collection includes some of Matheson's best known tales as well as some eye-opening, obscure ones. Very satisfying!
Joel Hacker
Feb 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror, scifi, 70s, 80s, free, 60s
Full disclosure, I received a free copy of this for review purposes.
For starters, I while I will not claim to have read/watched everything Richard Matheson has written, I have read the vast majority of it. I’m not sure that was an advantage going into this new ‘best of’ collection.
Honestly, I’m a little unclear what Penguin was going for with this collection, something which is made no more clear from the introduction (did that writer also select/organize the collection? Was he just an author/fa
Patrick Stuart
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I wish I'd either read this when I was younger and hadn't read much else or seen so much else, or just that I was born earlier so I could have read these stories as they came out. Matheson is a writer with such a large influence on Genre fiction that it is sometimes hard to read-through the cloud of things that have been influenced by him.

Many of these stories still manage to surprise with last-paragraph reveals that transform genre stories into literature or lit into genre. (You can never be ce
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Richard Matheson may be one of the most underrated writers of the 20th century. Known primarily for his contributions to The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery television shows, his short stories are witty, dark, and instantly recognizable. He is the absolute master of depicting ordinary people caught up in horrifying situations (it's no wonder that Stephen King cites him as the major influence of his writings).

Some of the highlights of this collection include "Prey," a young woman fights for her l
Feb 11, 2018 rated it liked it
A pretty good collection of short stories. Matheson's written a lot of shorts and most of his good ones are here. A few clunkers as you'd expect from any collection but you can't go wrong with Matheson if you're in the mood for some short stories. At times a bit dated (i.e., smoking on an airplane) but generally most stories still effective. My rating for each entry:
1. Born of Man and Woman - 2.5/5
2. Prey - 4/5
3. Witch War - 4/5
4. Shipeshape Home - 2.5/5
5. Blood Son - 2.5/5
6. Where's There's a W
Brian Palmer
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Reading the best of Richard Matheson is an amazing experience. There is such a breadth of style and concepts across the titles that it was easy to forget that it was a single author. Usually with a single author collection, I have to take breaks, but I could just go from one masterwork to another.

This collection includes the famous stories turned into movies or television like "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" and "The Duel" (although the latter is perhaps a bit disappointingly short as a short story)
Linda Smith
If anyone had asked me if I was familiar with the work of Richard Matheson, I would have denied ever hearing his name. And I would be so wrong. This astonishing collection of 33 of Richard Matheson's short stories is a mere sampling of his prolific output. In addition to stories, he wrote novels and screenplays (many based on his own published work) and television episodes (including 16 episodes of Twilight Zone). Matheson did not write in only one genre either. His output included horror, scien ...more
Jon DenHouter
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’m a big fan of Stephen King, so when I found out that King said the writer who had the biggest influence on him was Richard Matheson, I suddenly wanted to know all about Richard Matheson. You probably have never heard his name--I know I hadn’t, until Stephen King brought him to my attention--but you probably know some of the things he wrote, like The Twilight Zone, I am Legend starring Will Smith, and Somewhere in Time, which was filmed at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

I just finished re
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, short-stories
You've probably encountered Matheson's work even if you didn't know it. He wrote Hell House, I Am Legend (the basis for Omega Man & the recent Will Smith remake), and dozens of episodes of the Twilight Zone, including the famous "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" (which is included in this volume). He is an incredible storyteller and this collection is chockblock of some of his best work. If you enjoy the creepily pleasant sensation of a shiver running up and down your spine as you read, or the sudd ...more
Pamela Faust
Feb 01, 2019 rated it liked it
A collection of 33 stories. None that I read as scary as I’d hope. I have to admit I didn’t thoroughly read “Nightmare at 20000 Feet” because I was familiar with it from Twilight Zone. Richard Matheson certainly had an impressive vocabulary – many new and forgotten words I was happy to see. Usually after I’ve read a collection of stories, I forget what most of them were about. Some of these stuck with me, so based on that, maybe this is better than most. Some stories that stuck with me: the one ...more
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great, great writer. Many of the short stories in this collection are less than 10 pages long. Many of them are stories you've seen or heard before, but just didn't know were written by Richard Matheson. Remember that Zuni fetish doll story in the "Trilogy of Terror" movie? Yep, it was written by Matheson.
There were a few short stories that left me feeling like they were unfinished writing exercises - even though they performed by a master of the craft, they left me feeling like "this was a grea
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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 w ...more
“Stewardess!” She came running down the aisle, her face tightened with alarm. When she saw the look on his face, she stiffened in her tracks. “There’s a man out there! A man!” cried Wilson. “What?” Skin constricted on her cheeks, around her eyes. “Look, look!” Hand shaking, Wilson dropped back into his seat and pointed out the window. “He’s crawling on the—” The words ended with a choking rattle in his throat. There was nothing on the wing.” 0 likes
“Tell ya the man’s got a private line t’Moscow,” he said. “A few men like that in office and we’re in for it, take my word.” 0 likes
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