Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Button, Button: Uncanny Stories by Richard Matheson (2009)

Button, Button: Uncanny Stories by Richard Matheson (2009) containing the following stories:

  • Button, Button (1970)
  • Girl of My Dreams (1963)
  • Dying Room Only (1953)
  • A Flourish of Strumpets (1956)
  • No Such Thing as a Vampire (1959)
  • Pattern for Survival (1955)
  • Mute (1962)
  • The Creeping Terror (1961)
  • Shock Wave (1963)
  • Clothes Make the Man (1951)
  • The Jazz Machine (1962)
  • 'Tis the Season to Be Jelly (1963)   

So-so collection of stories by TV, movie, and horror-fiction great Richard Matheson. This volume was quickly re-titled The Box and reissued within the year as a tie-in to the enjoyably weird and sort of dreadful movie The Box, very tenuously based on Matheson's "Button, Button." A story, by the way, about ten pages long. 

Of the other stories, the sexy tee-hee stuff of "A Flourish of Strumpets" really doesn't date well; neither the sincere racial angst of the long poem (!) "The Jazz Machine." They would best have been saved for completists only.

The rest of the stories are solid in their own ways, from the satiric apocalypses of "The Creeping Terror," "'Tis the Season to Be Jelly," and "Pattern for Survival" to the more straightforward mystery-thriller "Dying Room Only." "Mute" is really the stand-out here, a story of telepathy and normal human empathy that shows Matheson in what seems like eerily similar form to Theodore Sturgeon. Overall, lightly recommended.

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