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Richard Matheson's The Twilight Zone Scripts: Volume Two
edited by Stanley Wiater
Edge Books, 406 pages

Richard Matheson's The Twilight Zone Scripts: Volume Two
Stanley Wiater
Stanley Wiater sold his first article (to Fate) when 16. He's been a professional writer since 1975, following graduation from the University of Massachusetts with a BDIC degree in Writing and Cinema. Perhaps best known for his interviews, he has also edited 2 anthologies, Night Visions 7 and After the Darkness.

Stanley Wiater Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Richard Matheson's The Twilight Zone Scripts: Volume One

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Alma A. Hromic

The reason Richard Matheson, scriptwriter, short story writer and novelist, produced such cracking good tales is two-fold -- he understands people, and he deeply believes in what Ray Russell, in the preface to Richard Matheson's The Twilight Zone Scripts: Volume Two, calls "... everything super-, para-, preter-, extra- or un-natural."

There can be no greater credentials for writing stories of enduring value for a show of enduring value: a TV show that has transmuted its very name into an English language concept. How can you do better than that?

Matheson was a successful and multi-published author before he ever heard of The Twilight Zone. But a track record was not the only thing that was required for the position of scriptwriter to director Rod Serling. You not only had to write stories, you had to write good stories, and you had to write good stories with a uniquely Twilight Zone twist to them.

As it happened, one of Matheson's short stories had already been purchased for the show in the first season, but it had been Serling himself who had adapted the story into script format at that time. By the time Matheson and his fellow writer Chuck Beaumont were brought aboard, it was with a brief to produce original scripts for the show, and they took to the task like they had been waiting for it all their lives. After Serling himself, the founder and father of Twilight Zone, Matheson and Beaumont were to be responsible for the greatest number of scripts produced during the show's five-season run.

Writing for a visual medium is totally different from writing for the book form, but Matheson's was a vision uniquely suited to the demands of screen. He wrote instant attention grabbers, with characters whose fates in which the viewer was immediately involved. His skills as an award-winning novelist were transformed by the script format into gripping television shows, and it is fascinating to watch those skills at work in a book like this. The original scripts were brought out in a limited edition, now out of print, some years ago; this volume, reissued by the Edge imprint of Gauntlet Press, contains six of Matheson's classic original-series Twilight Zone scripts, together with commentary by Matheson himself in conversation with editor Stanley Wiater and Wiater's own commentary on the series and the scripts themselves.

This is a historical document, if nothing else, but for those of us who wonder how a story works and just what makes a good story into a great one, this is the perfect book to start finding that out. These are scripts written by a master of the genre, for a show which remains one of the best known and best loved TV series of all time.

This book may not be everyone's cup of tea -- script format is admittedly easier to watch translated into action than actually printed on a page -- but for those with the interest in a combination of both the art and the craft of writing, this is a wonderful book. Both in -- and out -- of... The Twilight Zone.

Copyright © 2002 Alma A. Hromic

Alma A. Hromic, addicted (in random order) to coffee, chocolate and books, has a constant and chronic problem of "too many books, not enough bookshelves". When not collecting more books and avidly reading them (with a cup of coffee at hand), she keeps busy writing her own. Her latest fantasy work, a two-volume series entitled Changer of Days, was published by HarperCollins.

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