Saturday, November 20, 2010

Richard Matheson - The Original Stories: The Science Fiction Digests Part 4

by John Scoleri

In the first eight parts of this ongoing series, I looked at Richard Matheson's short fiction appearances in Playboy, the Sci-Fi Pulps, the Mystery Digests, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Gauntlet Chapbooks and the first, second and third batch of Science Fiction Digests. We return now with the fourth part of the Science Fiction digests Matheson contributed to.

The Original Stories - Part 9: If, Imagination and Worlds Beyond

The bulk of Matheson's short stories originally appeared in science fiction digests like those featured in this installment.

"Brother To The Machine"
If - Worlds of Science Fiction
November 1952, Vol. 1 No.5

Subsequent appearances: Shock II, Duel: Terror Stories, Collected Stories TP v1

Editorial Comment: The dawning of intelligence is sometimes the greatest tragedy of all.

If - Worlds of Science FictionMay 1954, Vol. 3 No.3

Subsequent appearances: Collected Stories HC, Shores of SpaceShock IICollected Stories TP v2

Editorial Comment: How would you spend your last day under the sun?...Here's what happened in the livesof three young couples who would be part of that great underground exodus on the morrow...

Illustration by Alan Anderson
 Notes: This issue also features the story "Prominent Author" by Philip K. Dick.

If - Worlds of Science Fiction
August 1954, Vol. 3 No. 6

Subsequent appearances: Collected Stories HC, Shores of Space, Duel: Terror Stories, Collected Stories TP v2

Editorial Comment: That It landed on Earth was perhaps destiny. That Les and Marian were making their trip in August was perhaps coincidence. That Ketter kept a zoo was perhaps unfortunate. However, It was hungry—and Les and Marian were making their trip and Ketter kept a zoo... A horror story you'll read with shivers down your spine!

Illustration by Virgil Finlay
 Notes: Matheson told Stanley Wiater in collected stories that he adapted his story for American International Pictures that went unproduced. Celebrated hackmeister Larry Buchanan's It's Alive! was an unauthorized adaptation of the story. This issue also features the stories "Exhibit Piece" by Philip K. Dick and "The Joy of Living" by William F. Nolan.

"Drink My Red Blood..."
April 1951, Vol. 2 No. 2

Subsequent appearances (as "Blood Son"): Collected Stories HC, Shores of Space, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories, Bloodlines, Collected Stories TP v1

Table of Contents Comment: Jules was a strange little boy with a peculiar ambition: he wanted to be a vampire...

Editorial Comment: Then there's Richard Matheson who created quite a stir in Tony Boucher's book The Magazine of Fantasy an Science Fiction. You'll find a little shocker by Matheson in this issue. It's a bit on the grim side, and we think it's a story you won't easily forget. If you like this type of tale, let us know. It's not really science-fiction—or fantasy either. It's—off-trail. But whatever you choose to call it, we though it was quite good. Care for more?

Story Comment: People in the neighborhood avoided Jules. For he was not like other children; his one fond wish in life was to become an immortal-vampire!

Illustration by Ramon Raymond
Notes: This issue also includes "The Hungry House" by Robert Bloch (later adapted to the classic Thriller episode "The Hungry Glass").

"Letter To The Editor"
January 1952, Vol. 3 No.1

Subsequent appearances (as "Advance Notice"): Collected Stories HC, Shock Waves, Collected Stories TP v1

Table of Contents Comment: We usually tear up letters warning of a Marian attack—but here's one with proof!

Editorial Comment: Letters warning of an invasion of Earth find their way into the editorial waste basket. But this one offered some proof to back it up!

Illustration by Herb Ruud

Notes: "Letter to the Editor," as it appeared in Imagination, was addressed to "Bill" (Imagination editor William L. Hamling) and signed "Dick." The story was followed by this editorial statement:
Editor's Note:
The above letter certainly sounds like a good gag. And we, like the rest of you readers enjoy a practical joke once in a while. Martains about to invade, indeed! We listen to the radio quite a bit and we haven't heard a single report of lights clustering around the moon—have any of you?
So ok, Dick's letter is a joke...
But we noticed one funny thing we could check on. Remember Dick said IMAGINATION had been published for five years? That got us thinking. So we took a look at the date of the letter and the postmark. They were the same. The envelope is postmarked  November 6, 1955.
Now how did the post office ever make such a silly mistake?
—The Editor.
When reprinted as "Advance Notice" the editor was changed to an agent, his name was changed to Don (like Matheson's agent Don Congdon), the writer's name was changed to Burt (Matheson's middle name is Burton), and the magazine changed to Grisly Space Stories. In his interview with Wiater in Collected Stories, Matheson notes he must have been foreseeing the future, in that Don was selected before Don Condgon was his agent. It appears he's misremembering, as the original story had so many changes when collected in Shock Waves in 1969 (by which time Congdon was his agent). Matheson also refers to a reference in the story, "We'll kill a Matheson story and stick in your piece instead," which was absent from the original publication.

"The Man Who Made The World"
February 1954, Vol. 5 No.2

Subsequent appearances: Shock IICollected Stories HC, Collected Stories TP v2

Editorial Comment: The patient was obviously deranged, but Dr. Janishefsky had to make sure first. So he sat back in his chair and began to question...

Notes: Matheson is rather dismissive of this story in his comments to Wiater in Collected Stories

"Clothes Make The Man" 
Worlds Beyond
February 1951, Vol. 1 No. 3

Subsequent appearances: Collected Stories HC, Shores of Space, Button, Button, Collected Stories TP v1

Editorial Comment: Which is really the stronger—yourself, or the carefully-composed image you present to the world?

Illustration unredited

Notes: The following contributor information is included on the inside back cover of this issue:
Richard Matheson tells us, "I was born of man and woman in the month of February of 1926. In New Jersey. In a house. My parents were exiled to Brooklyn when I had just begun to acquire the knack of dripping green. In this happy environment I spent my youth attending many public schools and one technical high school where I learned to hate science. This later proved helpful in writing science-fiction.
After working in a defense plant for a time, I enlisted in the Army hoping to become a second lieutenant. Later I found out what I had missed by not becoming a second lieutenant. I am still very grateful.
My hobbies are song writing, swimming, reading reection slips and sending unpublished letters to editors. I am not and never have been a member of the Communist Party. I vote straight Vegetarian ticket and love small dogs and cats. And my seven nieces and one nephew.
I wrote my first story when I was seven. Anti-war legislation willing, I shall write my last at about ninety-six."

There's more to come! Stay tuned for future installments of Richard Matheson - The Original Stories.


Todd Mason said...

I hadn't seen all three issues of WORLDS BEYOND, so hadn't realized Damon Knight bought one of Matheson's stories.

IF, once it was out of Paul Fairman's hands, really strove to be a contender, and with Larry Shaw and Knight editing, it mostly succeeded...till the publisher James Quinn decided to stick to word puzzle magazines...apparently many in the sf community lost a lot of respect for Larry Shaw for putting up with Quinn's martinet nonsense. Shaw had a tough career, and rarely gets much credit for it...

IMAGINATION coulda bin a contender, too, and even at its worst was better than...well, any Fairman magazine, low bar that that is...

So, did you get to see Jeff Segal's review of THE FIEND IN ME on my blog? I imagine that was a relatively rare first-in-pb publication of Matheson's short fiction in those years...

John Scoleri said...

I do love the look of the early issues of IMAGINATION.

I did see Jeff's review, and TFIY will be covered when I get to the stories that originally appeared in anthologies.

As it was edited by Beaumont, it's not a complete surprise (much like when he appears in Don Congdon's Alone By Night).