By now you may have heard the news of the unfortunate passing of author Richard Matheson, a titan in his field who leaves behind him a rich, vast, deep legacy of material that will continue to be enjoyed and mined for years to come. And his impact on cinema as we know it is nowhere near negligible. Indeed, consider the beginnings of Steven Spielberg’s career, whose calling card adaptation of Matheson’s short story “Duel” catapulted him to Hollywood’s attention.
“Richard Matheson’s ironic and iconic imagination created seminal science-fiction stories and gave me my first break when he wrote the short story and screenplay for ‘Duel,'” the director said in a statement. “His ‘Twilight Zones’ were among my favorites, and he recently worked with us on ‘Real Steel.’ For me, he is in the same category as Bradbury and Asimov.”
Matheson was set to receive the Visionary Award at the 39th annual Saturn Awards Wednesday night, presented by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. Pity the award will now be presented posthumously, but the ceremony will now be dedicated to his memory.
“We are heartbroken to lose a writer of towering talent, unlimited imagination and unparalleled inspiration,” said Academy President Robert Holguin via press release. “Richard was a genius whose visions helped bring legitimacy and critical acclaim to science fiction and fantasy. He was also a longtime supporter of the Academy, and everyone associated with The Saturn Awards feels emptier today to learn of this enormous loss. Richard”s accomplishments will live on forever in the imaginations of everyone who read or saw his inspired and inimitable work.”
Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” led the way with nominations for the Saturn Awards when they were announced way back in February. Other films in the mix include “Life of Pi,” “Skyfall,” “The Avengers,” “The Hunger Games” and “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Also set to be honored alongside Matheson are filmmaker William Friedkin, “Star Trek: The Next Generation” star and director Jonathan Frakes and “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan.
The 39th annual Saturn Awards will be presented on Wednesday, June 26 at the Castaway Event Center in Burbank.