DUEL: Terror Stories

Richard Matheson, Author . Tor $27.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-7653-0695-1

Science fiction's forward-looking sense of wonder curdles into an apprehensive glance over the shoulder in the 18 tales that comprise this latest repackaging of Matheson's (Nightmare at 20,000 Feet) seminal fantastic fiction. Although decked out with the paraphernalia that defined 20th-century SF—robots, interplanetary travel, close encounters of the third kind—they are most memorable for reflecting the same fundamental fears and vulnerabilities that Matheson all but trademarked in his tales of supernatural horror. "Trespass" transforms the mystery of motherhood into a ghoulish variation on the theme of alien invasion, when a pregnant woman's unusual cravings suggest that the child she bears is not even remotely human. In "Lover When You're Near Me," extraterrestrial contact approximates a rape ordeal when a human emissary to another planet finds that the alien females are as telepathically irresistible as they are physically repulsive. The parental nightmare of a lost child is a springboard for speculations on extradimensional travel in "Little Girl Lost," while "Steel" is a meditative treatment of technophobia presented in the unlikely form of a futuristic sports story. The selections showcase Matheson's minimalist style, which is perfect for elaborating the thoughts and ideas of solitary characters who find themselves facing challenges totally beyond their control. Readers will know many of these stories from their TV adaptations, but like the greatest hits album everyone sings along to, this book is a must-have for fantastic fiction fans. (Jan. 8)

FYI:Matheson has won Edgar, Hugo and Stoker awards.

Reviewed on: 12/23/2002
Release date: 01/01/2003
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