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Steel: And Other Stories by Richard Matheson
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Steel: And Other Stories

by Richard Matheson

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Showing 5 of 5
Matheson seems to see the worst in humanity and to spray that about.
I think every story was about a human being being irrational in one form or another.

I enjoyed these,[there was comic relief, even if in a bitter form] but would not want to read lots of books like this one right after the other. It would be too much. ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
A free download from my local library by Black Stone Audio. Narrated by Scott Brick.

Steel was good, but the book descriptions tout that this is what the movie with Hugh Jackman in it was based on. OK, but the Twilight Zone episode with Lee Marvin in it was far more accurate to the story & really fantastic.

To fit the crime is a man dying & then what he finds in the afterlife. Pretty much perfect justice. Matheson's got a mean side, no doubt.

The wedding just goes to show there's nothing to all the superstitions surrounding the institution or is there? I repeat, Matheson has a mean side.

The conqueror is sad & so true. I wonder how often it really happens that way.

Dear diary LOL! Two girls' diaries 2000 years apart. Only the year has changed.

Descent just how much change can men take? Which choice would you have made? This story asks a very hard question.

The doll that does everything there really are people like this out there. If you have kids, this is truly horrible.

The Traveler I've read a lot of time travel stories, but few have ever made several points so well. Atheistic science meets religion & faith. Beautifully done. I don't think this was a Twilight Zone, but should have been.

When day is dun Very few can look into the soul of a poet or man & lay it as bare as Matheson. Wow! Just how far can ego take a man? Worse, it was believable.

The splendid source I read an SF story, also done in the 50's I believe, about where jokes came from. That one decided it was an alien test & once our computers had figured it out, humor was gone. Scary & shocking. I wondered if anyone could top it. Matheson gave it a good run. Interesting, although I don't really agree with his basic interpretation of what jokes are for or do in this story.

Lemmings was odd. Not really sure to make of it. Felt in some ways like a haunting fragment. I'm still thinking about it.

The edge was a nightmare for a man. Was this ever a Twilight Zone? Maybe part of one? Interesting idea.

A visit to Santa Claus is another nightmare of a man's own making. It went on a bit long building the tension, but never stopped. My mind kept writing the story after Matheson was done. Very well done!

Dr. Morton's folly is fun. Matheson never comes right out and tells us who or what the man with the bad tooth is. That's left to our imagination, although it is fairly obvious. Excellent.

The window of time is a new story & quite long winded, although with an interesting message & pretty good. One of the things I always liked about Matheson was his brevity. I'm sorry he seems to have lost it.

Overall, this was a pretty good listen. There are a couple of 5 star stories, so I rounded this up from a 3.5 to 4 stars. Only a couple of stories were misses. ( )
  jimmaclachlan | Aug 18, 2014 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Steel and Other Stories is a collection of stories written by Richard Matheson who is probably best known for his novels I am Legend and The Incredible Shrinking Man. Most were originally published in pulp magazines in the 1950s, though two are recent and have never been collected before. Each is quite short:

* "Steel" — (1956, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction) Steel Kelly, a washed-up boxer, is now living vicariously through his broken down robot fighter. If they can win the next match, Steel hopes he’ll have enough money to fix up his robot. “Steel” was the inspiration for a Twilight Zone episode and the movie Real Steel. It’s exciting and demonstrates Richard Matheson’s talent for writing men from a psychological perspective.

* "To Fit the Crime" — (1952, Fantastic) A cruel and pretentious 1950s poet dies and finds out what hell is like for cruel and pretentious 1950s poets. This one is amusing.

* "The Wedding" — (1953, Beyond Fantasy Fiction) A superstitious groom ruins his marriage before it gets started.

* "The Conqueror" — (1954, Bluebook Magazine) A young Yankee idolizes the pistol fighters out West, so he sets out to become one. I don’t normally read Westerns, but I liked this one.

* "Dear Diary" — (1954, Born of Man and Woman) A very short and penetrating story about two pessimistic women from two different eras writing entries in their diaries.

* "Descent" — (1954, If) A nuclear bomb is about to be dropped on California and the citizens are preparing to leave everything behind and descend into an underground city.

* "The Doll That Does Everything" — (1954) A destructive baby is making life miserable for his poet father and sculptor mother, so they buy him a sophisticated robot companion, hoping it will be a good influence on his behavior.

* "The Traveller" — (1954, Born of Man and Woman) Hoping to debunk the account of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, a professor is sent back in time to view it. This story is intense and moving.

* "When Day Is Dun" — (1954, Fantastic Universe) The last man on Earth is a poet. Even though he has no audience, he’s compelled to write an epitaph for humanity, blaming his species for destroying the Earth. The twist ending to this story is ironic and disturbing.

* "The Splendid Source" — (1956, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction) The basis of the Family Guy episode "The Splendid Source," this story is about an eccentric millionaire who wants to trace the source of all dirty jokes. It’s really funny.

* "Lemmings" — (1958, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction) A couple of friends watch as masses of people, lemming-like, walk into the ocean and drown themselves. This is the only story I didn’t like. Fortunately, it was only a few minutes long — I believe it’s the shortest story he’s written.

* "The Edge" — (1958, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction) A creepy tale about a man who doesn’t know he has a doppelganger.

* "A Visit to Santa Claus" — (1957, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine) A horror story about a man who has hired a hitman to kill his wife while he takes his son to visit Santa Claus.

* "Dr. Morton's Folly" — (2009, Vice Magazine) Another horror story about a dentist treating a man who refuses to let him extract his left canine tooth... which is abnormally long.

* "The Window of Time" — (2010, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction) A sweet and nostalgic story about aging. I don’t know when he wrote it, but this story was published when Matheson was 84 years old, which makes it especially poignant and a beautiful ending to this collection.

I’ve read a lot of speculative fiction from the 1950s and in some ways Richard Matheson’s stories have the same sort of feel, but in other ways they seem less dated than those of, for example, Philip K. Dick and Ray Bradbury. I think that’s because Matheson doesn’t focus on space exploration, aliens, and atomic war. Instead, he uses speculative fiction to explore human psychology, especially the psychology of men, and that is a theme that just hasn’t changed much since the 1950s. Every story in Steel and Other Stories (with the exception, perhaps, of “The Splendid Source”) examines the motives, behaviors, and hidden thoughts of human beings who feel real and deep. This makes every story, even the ones with plots I wouldn’t normally care for, feel like a work of art. My favorites were “Steel,” “The Conquerer,” “The Traveller,” and "The Splendid Source."

I listened to Blackstone Audio’s version of Steel and Other Stories, which was narrated by Scott Brick. Mr. Brick seems to be the master of old SFF on audio — he has this style down right and he always does a great job. I recommend Steel and Other Stories for fans of Richard Matheson, 1950s SFF (or anyone who wants to become better educated in that genre), and anyone who likes their SFF with a focus on character (especially male) psychology. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
When Richard Matheson dies, it’s a fair bet that the lead on his obituaries will be built around the phrase “author of I Am Legend.” He should be known for that, but also for a great deal more from his decades’ long career. Steel is one useful corrective: a collection of Matheson’s taut, highly polished short stories of the fantastic.

The fifteen tales that make up Steel range across multiple genres and moods. “Descent” and “The Doll That Does Everything” are straight-up science fiction, “The Conqueror” a Western, and “The Splendid Source” a mystery story about an obsessive hero on the trail of a shadowy organization. “To Fit The Crime,” the story of a bitter, hateful old man and his uniquely fitting comeuppance, hits all the beats of a top-notch Twilight Zone episode. “The Edge” starts off as a mild mystery, then slides inexorably into a kind of horror that involves neither monsters nor blood. Matheson is a consummate pro, and it shows in every story, regardless of genre or mood. The plotting is deft, the settings and characters (where they matter) neatly evoked, and the words well-chosen. Even “Lemmings” and “Dear Diary,” which are little more than sketches of a situation, feel complete and fully formed.

Like any collection, Steel has some pieces that work better than others. The choice faced by the four characters in “Descent” has, with the waning of the Cold War, lost the emotional force it would have had for the story’s original mid-fifties readers, who lived with fallout shelters and the imminent threat of nuclear war. “Dear Diary,” despite its clever execution and sardonic point about human nature, leaves a sour taste because of its handling of female characters. The best, though, are as good as short fiction of the fantastic gets. The title story is a masterpiece: a grim, gritty 1956 tale of a (then) near-future America where robots have replaced humans in the boxing ring. It follows Henry “Steel” Kelly – once a boxer himself, now the manager of a clanking, obsolete robot fighter named Battling Maxo – as he tries to get his worn-out meal ticket in shape for one more $500 bout in one more third-rate venue. “The Window of Time” invests its familiar plot – an elderly writer finds himself, memories intact, in the world of his boyhood – with unfamiliar poignancy by exploring (rather than simply declaring) the main character’s feeling of being trapped by his present-day life. The effect is only deepened when a glance at the copyright page reveals that it was published in 2010, when Matheson was roughly the same age as his protagonist.

The guy who wrote I Am Legend, the script for The Twilight Zone’s “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” and the literary sources for The Incredible Shrinking Man, Duel, and Somewhere In Time doesn’t (or shouldn’t) need my endorsement . . . but here it is anyway: This collection is more of “the good stuff,” by one of the best in the business. ( )
  ABVR | Dec 14, 2012 |
I really enjoyed this collection of short stories. I have never read anything by Matheson before, so I was surprised to find that I actually enjoyed his style and outlook of the world. Of course, some I liked better than others, but overall, I thought they were enjoyable science fiction pieces. I really enjoyed "Steel," "The Splendid Source," and "The Traveler."

Most of these stories did tend to be depressing, so I wouldn't suggest reading it all in one go. Sprinkle it with some happy reading on the side. To be fair, Matheson does add some levity with ironic humor. These are relatively old pieces (dated from the 1950's), but they don't show their age. Instead of focusing on man's downfall from technology-related issues (as many science fiction authors from his time period do), Matheson focuses on people themselves. Whether it be how people are their own downfall, or explorations of life and people in general.

What this collection shows is that Matheson is brilliant at creating characters and situations that stick with you. He takes the reader out of his or her comfort zone and plops them down into a strange, Twilight Zone-esque environment. If you're at all a fan of science fiction, you'll love his work.

*I was given a copy from Goodreads FirstReads in exchange for my honest review.* ( )
  sedelia | May 11, 2012 |
Showing 5 of 5
Touching on creeping horror as well as broad satire, this collection showcases a rare and important talent.
added by Christa_Josh | editLibrary Journal, Jackie Cassada (Oct 15, 2011)
 
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Same table of contents as Duel and Other Stories (2003)
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Book description
Contents:

Steel
To Fit the Crime
The Wedding
The Conqueror
Dear Diary
Descent
The Doll That Does Everything
The Traveller
When Day Is Dun
The Splendid Source
Lemmings
The Edge
A Visit to Santa Claus
Dr. Morton's Folly
The Window of Time
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765367610, Mass Market Paperback)

Imagine a future in which the sport of boxing has gone high-tech.  Human boxers have been replaced by massive humanoid robots.   And former champions of flesh-and-blood are obsolete . . . .

Richard Matheson’s classic short story is now the basis for Real Steel, a gritty, white-knuckle film starring Hugh Jackman.  But “Steel,” which was previously filmed as a powerful episode of the original Twilight Zone television series, is just one of over a dozen unforgettable tales in this outstanding collection, which includes two new stories that have never appeared in any previous Matheson collection.  Also featured is a bizarre satirical fantasy, “The Splendid Source,” that was turned into an episode of The Family Guy.

Richard Matheson was recently inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.  Steel demonstrates once again the full range of his legendary imagination.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:01 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Features the story "Steel," in which robots have replaced humans in the boxing ring, as well as more than a dozen other stories, including two that have never been collected in a book before.

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