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.
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 Space, Collected 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|
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|
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|
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:
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?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.
February 1954, Vol. 5 No.2
Subsequent appearances: Collected 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. This issue also features John Christopher's "Rocket to Freedom."
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?
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.