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Book Reviews by Kristie Groves

The Link
Richard Matheson
Gauntlet Press, 2006

Review by Kristie Groves


The name of Richard Matheson is well-known to science fiction fans -- of both short stories and books, television scripts, and movie adaptations.

For his movie work, perhaps the The Incredible Shrinking Man and I Am Legend (currently being remade starring Will Smith) are most famous.

When it comes to television, any fans of The Night Stalker (the original starring Darren McGavin) will know that Matheson wrote the screenplays for the first two television movies. And any fans of the Twilight Zone will know his name as well.

Fans, both new and old, have been exposed to his work in the last few years through Gauntlet Press, which has been reissuing his work. (Indeed, read our review of Richard Matheson's Collected Short Stories, Volume 3.

Last year, Gauntlet Press brought out The Link.

ExecuteUserGroupOtherThe Link began as a 557-page outline for a proposed 20-hour mini-series for ABC. When ABC asked Matheson to condense it into a 7 hours series, he tried to oblige. However, when he had written three hours of the miniseries, the two parted company. Matheson realized that he couldn?t condense his original vision without destroying the plot and characters.

He tried to convert the screenplay into a narrative work, but soon realized that the finished product would result in a huge, 2000 page novel. Instead, Matheson decided to end his love affair with The Link, and sanctioned the publication of this 347-page work, instead.

Robert Allright, a writer, is known for his works centering on the paranormal. He has been approached to convert his ideas into a four-hour documentary that is to span the history of parapsychology. He gets involved with a research team trying to unravel the meaning of topics such as telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, faith healing, psychic crime solving, out of body experiences, and various supernatural occurrences and manifestations.

Allright's journey forces him to address his own history and talents that he has long denied. As he struggles to understand himself and the paranormal, he is drawn closer and closer to a more unified theory on how psychics are able to perform their feats, bringing him to find the key of it all?The Link.

While the story of Robert Allright is a fascinating one, the book itself is a jerky read at best. Some of the screenplay notes from the original project have been left in and are distracting. Despite Matheson?s attempt to turn the screenplay into a novel form, the narrative sections are often choppy and can be hard to follow. However, once one gets used to the style, the story itself is intoxicating. For those readers that are interested in the paranormal, there is plenty to chew on, including real history of the paranormal movement. Anyone with vision can see how intense the original work was intended to be and can appreciate Matheson?s efforts.

One wishes only that the work had not been condensed. Even if the work had claimed 2000 pages, it would have been more enjoyable to read the work in a smooth narrative form. However, if produced, it would have been too costly for most readers. The build-up of the story does not lend itself to partitioning into more than one book. Therefore, this format is perhaps the best that could be produced under the circumstances. Despite its unfinished feel, the idea behind The Link is wondrous and we can only hope that one day it will be fleshed out on the viewing screen.

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