A collection of short fiction with a focus on horror and lots of twists and turns.
Matheson was a Twilight Zone writer. Among a lot of other television credits to his name from that time and on, but Twilight Zone is of particular interest here. If you don’t know, that show was fond of twists. It’s a cookbook! That sort of thing. It’s pulpy and an easy way to make an audience ooh and ahh. While we consider ourselves more savvy than our parents or grandparents were back then, it’s probably only because The Twilight Zone exists and has made us all quite prepared for the sudden turn.
The stories here show just how adept Matheson was at writing the sort of thing that would make Rod Serling quite happy. These stories exist to get you quickly involved, make you think you know what’s happening, and then pull the rug out from under you somewhere down the line, in big or small ways. And it works. The pulp and the shock is what I live on with authors like Matheson, and he delivers here.
Admittedly some of the stories didn’t pop like others did, but that’s to be expected. I noticed Matheson was writing dialogue without setting a scene at times, and I imagine that’s because the story was meant to become a script, but it could be jarring. People would start talking, and I didn’t know where they were. A minimalist approach isn’t bad, but it didn’t always feel deliberate. It seemed that he was just plopping dialogue in and moving on for the sake of getting it done.
Otherwise it was a fun, fast read where the game became to figure out what the sudden jolt would be. Stories to seek out in this one would be “Pattern For Survival”, an apocalypse story with a haunting tone; “The Creeping Terror” for a laugh; and finally “Clothes Make The Man” for some unique horror.