Science Fiction Book Review

The Shrinking Man

The Shrinking Man (1956/2002) Richard Matheson, Gollancz, 6.99, pbk, 200pp, ISBN 0-575-07463-9


This is the fifty-first title to be published as part of the Gollancz SF Masterworks series (Matheson's I Am Legend was the second) and is, by any criterion, a true classic of the genre.  Probably a lot of readers will be familiar with the plot, having seen the film The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), scripted by Matheson, which won the Hugo in 1958.

Scott Carey is exposed to a cloud of radioactive pesticide which causes him to shrink, making him increasingly bitter as medical science fails him and his relationship with his wife falls apart.  After falling accidentally into his own cellar, Carey must compete with a spider for supremacy of this world, but his greatest challenge remains in coming to terms with his condition.

Matheson was never the most prolific author of novels, as he divided his time between print, the big screen (for which he has adapted his own novels and short stories, as well as the works of Edgar Allan Poe and Jules Verne) and TV (including episodes of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits), but he has always been among the most respected and admired, by fans and pros alike. Also, like Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch and Fritz Leiber, Matheson wrote as much fantasy and horror as he did SF, not to mention much cross-genre material.  Consequently he does not have, perhaps, the greatest profile among the SF community but, make no mistake, his work is among the very best the genre has to offer.  This book is, therefore, a welcome addition to the Masterworks series and is recommended to all.

Tony Chester


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