Asia, US. Europe, India
Debates & Profiles
Modern Living now
Books & stories
Place To Die
by Sam North
The Next Great Flu Pandemic is coming.
Are you prepared?
plausible, and sickeningly addictive, this will terrify
you and thrill you.'. Roxy Williams - Amazon.co.uk
'Fascinating, frightening and compelling read'.
Another Place To Die
Mr Reality Check
Diamonds - The Rush of '72 By Sam
Buy now direct from Lulu.com
terrific piece of storytelling' Historical Novel Society Review
opinions expressed herein are wholly reflective of the writers and
contributors to hackwriters. All work is copyright of the writers
is a non-profit , non-paying journal based at an academic institution
but welcomes contributions from writers. We reserve the right to
publish and edit material in accordance with our editorial policy
- see submissions
The International Writers Magazine: Book Review
Before the new Will Smith blockbuster comes out, there were other 'Legends'
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Dan Schneider review
some reason Ive never been able to get the image of Vincent
Price out of my head, especially from his role in the 1964 Italian
film called The Last Man On Earth, based upon the Richard
Matheson novel I Am Legend. Yes, seven years later another
film, The Omega Man, with Charlton Heston, was made from
the book, but the Price film is both better and more faithful
to the source material. Here is how I described the images of
Price in a sonnet called Vincent Price In The Drapery Folds
.all is tragic when one is without
as he in between the cloth and the glass or
the divine chaotics of wish and snowflake.
The film is a very
good one, especially on a low budget, which is about a post-apocalyptic
world where zombie-vampires harangue the last normal man,
but it is not as good as the novel, which, despite having vampires in
it, is not a novel on vampires, nor even a horror nor sci-fi novel at
all, in the deepest sense. Instead, it is perhaps the greatest novel
written on human loneliness. It far surpasses Daniel DeFoes Robinson
Crusoe in that regard. Its insights into what it is to be human
go far beyond genre, and is all the more surprising because, having
read his short stories - which range from competent but simplistic,
to having classic Twilight Zone twists (he was a major contributor
to the original TV series) there is nothing within those short stories
that suggests the supreme majesty of the existential masterpiece
I Am Legend was aborning.
Not only is it more than a horror or sci fi tale, it is more than just
a post-apocalyptic work as well. It is (written in 1953, and published
in 1954) a far more subtle allegory on the McCarthyism of the day, as
well the rigid conformity of the 1950s leading to the cultural sterilization
and death of the masses. Compared to such filmic fare from that decade,
as On The Beach - or its written source, or even The World,
The Flesh, The Devil, it stands even higher because criticism from
either side of the spectrum, politically- the idle and gullible Left
and the vicious and pandering Right - was generally heavy-handed and
obvious. Even when compared to later works, some with direct debts,
like George Romeros Night Of The Living Dead and Dawn
Of The Dead, or those intriguing alternative visions to the end
of the world- Ursula LeGuins The Lathe Of Heaven (another
great apocalyptic novel) or the 1985 New Zealand film The Quiet Earth,
I Am Legend stands alone with its relentless focus on the self,
and the relation to things exterior.
It deconstructs the vampire myth with modern methods, attempting to
explain many of its legendary aspects with science- such as why non-Christian
vampires would fear the cross- they dont, why a stake kills a
vampire but not a bullet- a stake allows corrupting air into the bodily
glue of a vampire (although the silver bullet myth is untouched), why
vampires can metamorphose into bats or wolves- they cant, why
some vampires turn to dust at death- their already long-dead bodies
instantly decompose while living vampires bodies dont, why
mirrors repel them- psychological traumas, and a number of others.
The book is ostensibly about a post-World War Three biological plague,
in the late 1970s, in the Los Angeles, California area, that looses
forth a germ that causes vampirism- re-automating the dead at night,
and causing the still living to go comatose in the day, and run around
like lunatics at night. The only person apparently unaffected by all
this is a man in his late thirties, named Robert Neville, whose wife
succumbed to the plague and became a vampire he killed, and whose daughter
ended up being burned in a ceaseless fire pit for infected corpses.
The book follows him from several months after his status as lone survivor
is established to a few years later. He discovers the above facts about
the disease that explain many of the legendary vampire characteristics.
He autodidactically attempts to find reasons. After despair, boredom,
and the ceaseless monotony of his daily hunts for the living and dead
vampires, and the nightly attacks on his house-cum-fortress by them,
it is just the age old quest for knowledge that impels him onward.
descriptions of these events is moving, and Robert Neville is easily
one of the most thoroughly examined characters in the annals of
literature. Holden Caulfield is a petulant cipher, by comparison,
and one who invites no real probe, for he is hardly alone in the
real world, and has had many literary antecedents. Neither is true
of Neville. Two of the most moving scenes occur when first Neville
discovers a stray dog in his neighborhood, one of the few, if not
only, to not become a vampire dog. There is an extended sequence
that merely consists of his several weeks-long attempts to coax
it to his side. A lesser writer would have probably condensed the
scene, or extended it and added all sorts of metaphors to it, wholly
diluting the singularly monomaniacal need that Neville has for companionship-
any companionship- at that time.
One can almost feel
the tears and frustration that the character holds back, as he makes
no moves, as he gets closer, day-by-day, to the dog, while feeding it
on his front porch. The descriptions are sharp, unadorned, and poignant.
The dog eventually weakens from the plague and dies. The loss is palpable
in the book.
One can almost feel the tears and frustration that the character holds
back, as he makes no moves, as he gets closer, day-by-day, to the dog,
while feeding it on his front porch. The descriptions are sharp, unadorned,
and poignant. The dog eventually weakens from the plague and dies. The
loss is palpable in the book.
The descriptions of these events is moving, and Robert Neville is easily
one of the most thoroughly examined characters in the annals of literature.
Holden Caulfield is a petulant cipher, by comparison, and one who invites
no real probe, for he is hardly alone in the real world, and has had
many literary antecedents. Neither is true of Neville. Two of the most
moving scenes occur when first Neville discovers a stray dog in his
neighborhood, one of the few, if not only, to not become a vampire dog.
There is an extended sequence that merely consists of his several weeks-long
attempts to coax it to his side. A lesser writer would have probably
condensed the scene, or extended it and added all sorts of metaphors
to it, wholly diluting the singularly monomaniacal need that Neville
has for companionship- any companionship- at that time. One can almost
feel the tears and frustration that the character holds back, as he
makes no moves, as he gets closer, day-by-day, to the dog, while feeding
it on his front porch. The descriptions are sharp, unadorned, and poignant.
The dog eventually weakens from the plague and dies. The loss is palpable
in the book.
Later, he encounters a woman, named Ruth, and he suspects her of being
a vampire, yet in the course of a single night of companionship and
connection, he loses his inhibitions, and wants to test her to see if
she has the plague. It turns out she does, knows she does, but he never
gets to prove it, as she knocks him out. It seems she is a spy, and
part of a group of living vampires that have learned to contain the
disease, and are forming a new world, and live in mortal terror of Neville,
as an angel of death, killing both the living and undead with wanton
disregard for the differences. She leaves him a note, confessing her
empathy and affection for him and his kindness, and warning him that
once their group is strong enough, they will launch their revolution,
rid the world of the undead, cure the diseased, and destroy Neville
(and presumably any others like him they encounter)- who is a reminder
of an old world, one that brought hell on earth, and damned the innocent,
as well the guilty.
But, he does not heed her warning, scoffs at her claims, loathes her
betrayal, and is too much a creature of habit. He resigns himself to
continue as he has, over-drinking, chain smoking, listening to old LPs,
and hunting the other, waiting for the day the New World
Order arrives. He will throw himself on their mercy, and claim he did
what he did in order to survive, unsure of the future. Yet, he has doubts
- he always has. He realized some of those he killed via stake and other
means were alive, that he experimented on some vampires, in the name
of science, but in a Mengelean way, and that he has had lusts, especially
for some of the shapely, younger, female vampires. There have been those
erotically seductive female vampiresses that have struck lewd poses
to seduce him into the night, and his demise. And he has fantasized
of groping them, even raping them, even if it means his end. This depiction
of the dual nature of lust and violence, death and sex, has never been
more starkly reliefed in any novel.
In the end, the New Breed, somewhere between man and vampire, comes
for Neville. He resists, after planning to go peacefully, and ends up
mortally wounded. In his prison cell, slowly dying, as they prepare
to publicly execute him, Ruth visits him, gives him cyanide, or some
other such death pills, and he looks out his jail cell, and sees the
new race gathered, hissing for his end, and he understands that it is
not him that they hate, but what he represents, as the last of the old.
He takes the pills and dies realizing that he will be eternal in their
world- the anti-vampire. The monster that came in the day to kill the
normal people as they slept. A terrific inversion of the
mythos. Robert Neville. The Great Destroyer- a mythic figure. Legend
In a sense this book is also a precursor to the novel Planet Of The
Apes, by Pierre Boulle, and the subsequent films and TV series that
sprung from it. What is normal?, who is the real outcast?, and what
is the role and duty of any individual to his/her society- especially
when a minority, especially when a minority of one? All these questions
crop up in both sets of myths. The idea of minorities, incidentally,
took on an added dimension in the 1971 film of the Matheson tale, The
Omega Man, with Charlton Heston in the Neville role, with the Ruth
character (called Lisa- played by Rosalind Cash) as a black woman, who
shockingly, according to the times, becomes his sex partner.
This film ends melodramatically, with the vampires turned into plagued
albino-cultists called The Family (recall, this was 1971 and the Manson
Family was still big in the news), who eventually kill Neville, who
dies in a Christ-like pose, as he ends up saving humanity, represented
by young hippy kibbutz types, via a serum made of his blood.
Of course, Matheson has always had a thing for the outsider- his novel
The Shrinking Man, basis for the cult 1950s film of the same
name- save for the addition of Incredible to the title, also deal with
similar themes. Its interesting that hack authors as Dean Koontz
and Stephen King, utterly contrived plot and device-driven writers,
cite Matheson, and this work in particular, as influences. Its
just odd when people cite influences that are either superior to them,
thus forcing you to wonder why the inferiors learnt little from their
master, or are inferior, which makes you wonder why they revere someone
they long surpassed.
Of course, some critics have pointed out some flaws in the
book - such as why Neville doesnt realize Ruths true nature
earlier. As she attacks him, and knocks him out he notices that the
tan she had was makeup, a bronzer, yet earlier in the book he grabs
her by the arms and it does not come off. Others claim that the New
Breed acted irrationally against Neville, that he was not such a great
threat, and if he was his actions were wholly understandable given his
belief of what he was up against. But, Id counter that Neville
may have suspected her tan was fake, yet ignored signs, until the truth
was too literally knocked into him. Nowhere is it a given that only
what a narrator tells us is all there is, nor that any portion of it
is true, even when much of it seems documentarian. Despite his doubts
he greatly wanted to believe her, love her. As for the New Breed- this
is easily explained by the fact that group think is always Lowest Common
Denominator, and mobocracy has little in common with democracy. Other
criticisms have to do with some anachronisms, such as Matheson assuming
blacks would still be called Negroes in the 1970s, but that is a silly
criticism, given that a novel today calling blacks African-Americans
will naturally date, when in a decade or so a new term comes into vogue.
Its not a sign of racism, merely of the vagaries of the predictable
fog that all predictive works have to contend with.
Another neglected aspect of the story is that it is a sub-genre of apocalyptic
tales- namely nuclear nightmares. In some ways it has truck with the
film Godzilla, King Of The Monsters, that came out the same year as
I Am Legend. Godzilla was the result of nuclear war, and wreaked
great vengeance on mankind, almost as a force of nature to slap mankind
down. In a way, so too, has Neville become the great avenger on mankind,
because of a nuclear, or biological war, a force of nature who discards
his humanity when he kills wantonly, pulls vampires out into the sun,
to watch them die, all in the name of science. In both tales, though,
mankind survives, although in different ways. In Godzilla mankind,
as it is, gets by by the skin of its collective teeth, while in I
Am Legend it is forever altered, even as it survives. The ultimate
winner in the showdown between man and nature is yet to be determined,
in both works. The allegory to the atom bomb is all the more relevant
when one considers that Americans demonized not only all Japanese, subjecting
them to massive fire raids that devastated the Japanese mainland before
dropping the atom bombs, but also Japanese-Americans, loyal citizens
who had no ties to Imperial Japan, save heritage. The demonized then
suffered to an even greater retributive demon, nuclear war, although
I believe justified, which nonetheless made America a destroyer on par
with its reviled enemy, if not greater.
Given its timing, the allegory to HUAC, McCarthy, Nixon and company
cannot be denied. Neville is one of the first true anti-heroes in modern
literature, but a different sort of anti-hero- far more so than a Mike
Hammer, or his many knock-offs. He is an anti-hero not because he is
a bad boy by nature, but by sheer circumstance. His actions are all
eminently defensible, and any normal court of law would find his killing
of the living vampires justifiable since they made no bones
about killing him, joining the undead with no hesitation. And it is
not that Neville is not without compassion. When the New Breed finally
come for him they gleefully murder all the vampires that plague Nevilles
home- including his former best friend Ben Cortman, a Jewish vampire
who used to be his best friend. He is described by Neville as looking
like comedian Oliver Hardy, and the details of the final hunt of Cortman,
by the New Breed, is oddly moving, and Neville sees it as more than
the final act of his relationship with Cortman, whom he sought to kill
for years, as Cortman had been the main vampire who specifically sought
and called Neville out for death, so obsessed with his old friend that
he seemed smarter than the other vampires- his hiding place in the day
a place Neville never thought to look. Neville sees Cortmans demise
as the very death of humor itself. The world is now fully void of joy,
and the New Breed of gleeful murderers has usurped even Neville, the
Great Destroyer, himself, with their wanton and perverse bloodlust-
less driven by need, as in Neville, but a speciously justified sadism,
as they could easily dispatch the undead in the day, when they were
helpless, but joy in watching them suffer in the darkness. In many ways,
this suggests that while there are physical and evolutionary changes
in mankind, wrought by the disease, mans fundamental nature has
not changed. It is remarkably consistent. Surprisingly little has changed
because of the plague, at least, inwardly. The Other is
no longer defined by race, religion, or nationality,but by vampirism
alone. Although, there seems little doubt that, since the inward nature
of man has not changed, that when the New Breed purifies the earth of
the undead, and eventually cures itself, not merely controls the disease,
it will easily slip back into the petty distinctions and hatreds that
wrought their plagued state in the first place.
Having recently read Walter Millers apocalyptic triptych
A Canticle For Leibowitz, I got the eerie feeling that I Am Legend
may actually have been appended to that work as the description of what
came before the first of the three novellas, set six hundred years after
the fall. If youve read Millers book you know that the New
Breed is most likely as doomed as the old.
Yet, there is something undeniably noble about Neville- he has transformed
himself from an anonymous man, with wife and child, living in a suburb,
of no great skills nor ambitions, to a man ready to meet his calling
as the last of his kind. Whether or not he is is unknown. In that sense
I Am Legend holds out hope. The fate that awaits LA, as haven of a New
Order, may or may not be what awaits the whole world. There could be
many Nevilles, who band together to act as he did, and wipe out both
the New Breed and the undead, and restore mankind proper to its place
on top of the Terran food chain. But, that has no bearing to Neville.
His world ends over and again- in a gruesome torture with no meaning
that he can descry: first with the deaths of others, then with his ideas
of society, then his ideas of his own self and ethics, then with the
death of the undead, then his own death. Along the way, though, he has
ameliorated- given up his vices, sharpened his mind, lost his fears
and preconceptions, yet not his empathy - not wholly, as his emotions
over Cortman prove. This Better Man is the natural enemy of the New
Breed- they are conformist, he is individualist. They are almost wholly
without compassion (save for Ruth), he is not. They have not fundamentally
changed from the hatred and horror that affected past human cultures,
nor transcended it, he has. Neville is a sort of Übermensch, even
as he suicides- thus his legend is not wholly malign, but an example,
in the end, of selflessness, and possibly an inspiration, if the Ruths
of the New Order have any power- which we learn she does.
Its also interesting to note that Neville is the classic 1950s
suburbanite- the sine qua non of the 20th Century American Ideal, and
that the vampires are the ruthless invaders, the other, not unlike the
creeping fears of crime in the day. Inglewood, where Ruth and the New
Order presumably hail from, if she is to be believed, later became a
center of black gang activity, with the apt name of The Bloods as one
of the major gangs, and many of the vampires are described as glassy-eyed
and aimless- the very state that junkies occupy. Quite a prescient nod,
even if unintended. Yet, such is another hallmark of great art- something
that far transcends the creators intent.
Yet another interesting point is that the title is I Am Legend, not
I Am A Legend. The articular difference is not arbitrary. It more intimately
associates the reader with the protagonist, as well as a more sweeping
idea of legendry itself, not any particular legend- even the one it
deconstructs and reassembles. Read this piece, and realize that the
narrator throughout has been an omniscient- perhaps Neville from the
afterdeath, but perhaps not. Ask yourself this, is it Neville or Matheson
that breaks out and confronts the reader through the mythic fourth wall?:
....Is he worse than the distiller who gave bastardized grain
juice to stultify the brains of those who, sober, were incapable of
progressive thought? (Nay, I apologize for this calumny; I nip the brew
that feeds me.) Is he worse, then, than the publisher who filled ubiquitous
racks with lust and death wishes? Really, now, search your soul, lovie
- is the vampire so bad?
All he does is drink blood.
Why, then, this unkind prejudice, this thoughtless bias?
Its not quite clear, and while this is the most obvious instance
I can recall it is not the only time the query sat up and barked.
At books end the point is driven home again. Is the last line
Mathesons self-congratulatory pat on the back (well deserved,
and a proper damning of false modesty), Nevilles final realization
(in both senses), or both?: Robert Neville looked out over the
new people of the earth. He knew he did not belong to them; he
knew that, like the vampires, he was anathema and black terror to be
destroyed. And, abruptly, the concept came, amusing him even in his
A coughing chuckle filled his throat. He turned and leaned against the
wall while he swallowed the pills. Full circle, he thought while the
final lethargy crept into his limbs. Full circle. A new terror
born in death, a new superstition entering the unassailable fortress
I am legend.
I should add that in making my selections of quotes that I went in a
random fashion (save for the books end, directly above), thus
why I also do not give their page numbers, nor chapter locations, for
I want to emphasize that you can literally open up this book up anywhere,
on any page, and the writing never falters, never sags. Some have wished
the book went on- what higher compliment is there? Others have similarly
railed it is too brief- but we know all we need to know of that world.
Matheson can be detailed, yet leave the reader wanting more, spare,
yet tell us all we need to know of a situation or character.
I would also suggest that there are two other very cogent parallels
that I Am Legend has with very popular works of the 1950s. I mentioned
HUAC and McCarthyism, and the most noted work of fiction to come directly
out of that was the 1956 sci fi film Invasion Of The Body Snatchers,
by Don Siegel, based upon a short story, The Body Snatchers,
by Jack Finney, which was one of many regarding such a theme over the
prior two decades. Both it and I Am Legend deal with the replacement
of normal humans by others who are virtual döppelgängers,
ones who can literally wither away under certain conditions- the difference
being the former was a more subtle invasion from the without, whereas
the latter dealt with an overt corruption from within. Yet, both end
ambiguously- not for Neville, but for humanity.
The other work that I would tie to it is Samuel Becketts
Waiting For Godot, which premiered on January 5th, 1953- the
same year I Am Legend was written. Looked on as philosophical treatises
there is much in common. Both take place on blighted, and deserted,
tableaux, both works go through long stretches were little happens,
both are essentially interior monologues (although Godot achieves this
through the breaking down of the mind into personified aspects), much
is repeated, with slight variations, in both works (and both suffered
critically for it), and finally, both are fundamentally about what it
means to be human- albeit the two works have many divergences. Neville,
though, in a sense, is a Godot, as well as the aspective Vladimir and
Estragon, for he sees himself, at various times, as needing to achieve
certain things, and get somewhere, although who may be waiting for him
at his unknown destination he has no clue of, only the vaguest hopes.
That two such works should incarnate in the same year may be a happy
coincidence, or a sign of the times. Either way, the public won.
Take a look at the singular existential angst of this piece:
He thought about that visionary lady. To die, he thought,
never knowing the fierce joy and attendant comfort of a loved ones
embrace. To sink into that hideous coma, to sink then into death and,
perhaps, return to sterile, awful wanderings. All without knowing what
it was to love and be loved.
That was a tragedy more terrible than becoming a vampire.
He shook his head. All right, thats enough, he told himself,
you havent got time for maudlin reveries.
It lingers, then veers a hundred and eighty degrees, as many of us do,
at least those of us not burdened with manic states. In such a moment
Nevill realizes, even as he realizes something. Neville
resigns himself to go on, just to go on. Perhaps there is a hope guiding
him, but there need not be- theres sadness, beauty, terror, anger,
and pride in this small snippet, and it helps flesh Neville out from
mere anti-hero, or the even more rarely used, and interesting, unhero-
he who is just average, with no discernible darkness to counterpoise
the light of heroism.
Contrast that to this snippet, describing the same man:
He tried briefly to get back to the problem of the bacilli, but he realized
that he couldnt concentrate on anything except the dog. To his
complete astonishment, he later found himself offering up a stumbling
prayer that the dog would be protected. It was a moment in which he
felt a desperate need to believe in a God that shepherded his own creations.
But, even praying, he felt a twinge of self-reproach, and knew he might
start mocking his own prayer at any second.
Somehow, though, he managed to ignore his iconoclastic self and went
on praying anyway. Because he wanted the dog, because he needed the
Neville, again, realizes, because he is no square-jawed Spillane-like
character, even as Matheson knows how to deploy Spillanes deft
spare poetic touches, such as, applied to monotony itself:
After lunch he went from house to house and used up all his
stakes. He had forty-seven stakes.
I love Spillane, and have argued for his superiority to many
of his genre before [LINK], but, I doubt if he was ever capable of doing
a novel with this level of realism, poetry, texture, depth, and meaning,
nor creating a character like Robert Neville - loaded with frailties
that are strengths at some times, and weakness the rest of the time.
Somehow, I think, Mike Hammer would have ended up as Lord of the New
Earth Matheson paints, not submitting to its dictates, and thats
an important feature of the book- adaptability. Neville and the undead
vampires and the living plague sufferers all evolve. Neville, by books
end, a singularity, sees the good of the many outweighs the good of
the few, or the one. At novels start that is not so. Mike Hammer
would have taken on his tormentors, of both stripes, day and night,
until his last breath.
Yet, a mark of any enduring work of art is its continued, and renewable,
relevance through time. A half a century on Neville himself emerges
as another sort of figure of the Right- not as the Van Helsing-like
McCarthy, but the solipsistic, indolent corporate fat cats and paranoid,
self-pitying Goddists of the Bush era. Like the modern Right believes
itself to be, he is besieged in a redoubt, fending off the mindless
drones of blood and hedonism (the harlot vampires posing like
lewd puppets in the night), even as he is anachronized. He joys
in small victories. He loses himself in an idealized past, fortifies
himself with the remnants of a lost glory (Classical music), lashes
out at his enemies with no regard to differences, and that some of them
are far more like him than he admits, and loses himself in fantasies
of violence and sex, not unlike the Timothy McVeigh crowd.
Many questions remain at tales end: Why did the New Breed have
to wait so long to come and get Neville? Was Neville really the last
man on earth, or just in LA, or his part of LA? Why were the dead and
living vampires so dumb- even Neville queries why they didnt simply
set his house on fire?
Well never know, and why should we? Have we been enlightened,
entertained? Yes. Thats all that a work of art need do. Too many
modern writers go overboard with masturbatory detail, thinking that
good writing consists of the curlicues of minutia, squared! The idea
being that detailed boredom is better than plain old boredom. My wife
has complained of passages in the novel Cold Mountain where the
author, Charles Frazier, spends pages describing the details of Civil
War weaponry, yet his characters are utter stereotypes. He doesnt
get it. Matheson did in I Am Legend. There are gaps in the science of
I Am Legend- they were apparent in 1954, and some of the science is
even more manifestly dated now. But, its still plausible, if not
as real science fiction, certainly as fantasy, and truly as allegory,
and the books real raison detré. Yet, a work can
be wholly fantastical and succeed if its tale grips and its characters
connect. Plausibility gives way to the motive- in both senses of what
drives the tale and what the style accomplishes in doing so.
That all said, I have no hesitation claiming that I Am Legend is easily
one of the ten best novels I have ever read- right up there with Mark
Twains The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn, Herman Melvilles
Moby-Dick, or The White Whale, Charles Johnsons
Oxherding Tale, Kurt Vonneguts Slaughterhouse-Five,
and a few arguments over a tale or two from William Kennedy and some
And yet, somehow, I am still drawn to the Vincent Price interpretation
of the Robert Neville character (called Robert Morgan in The Last Man
On Earth), and my sonnet Vincent Price In The Drapery Folds, for that
is where our deepest terrors lie- in the mundane, in the human tendency
to see a curtain rustle and expect some ghost or nosferatu to be its
cause, rather than a stray breeze. This is why the divine chaotics
of wish and snowflake is so essential to science fiction and horror.
It is the within, admixed with the without, however briefly (for snowflakes
are amongst the most ephemeral things in the macro-world), where horror
spawns. Matheson knew it, and I Am Legend is a perfect snowflake, whose
beautiful fears are forever frozen in words.
© Dan Schneider Jan 2005
The Best in Poetica seeks great poems & essays!
all rights reserved