Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thursday Preview: F - - -

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This week, we come to the end of the Thursday Previews for stories in Thrilling Wonder Stories, Volume 2. There are still three items to come, but this is the last of the volume's main features: seven new and six classic stories by writers involved with the television incarnations of Star Trek.

Richard Matheson wrote the early episode "The Enemy Within." If it were an episode of Friends, it would be called "The One with the Evil Kirk."

He wrote far more for the original Twilight Zone. After Rod Serling adapted two of his stories, Matheson went on to write fourteen scripts of his own, making him the series' third most prolific writer, after Serling and Charles Beaumont. However, he arguably had a greater proportion of classic episodes than the other two. All three of the episodes remade in Twilight Zone: The Movie in 1983 had scripts by Matheson.

Movies based on stories by Matheson include The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Legend of Hell House, Somewhere in Time, What Dreams May Come, Stir of Echoes, and three adaptations of I Am Legend—the same-named recent feature starring Will Smith, The Last Man on Earth, and The Omega Man.

Matheson also wrote two of the most memorable TV movies of the 1970's: Duel, based on his own story and directed by Steven Spielberg; and Trilogy of Terror, based on three of his stories, one featuring the unforgettable living, bloodthirsty Zuni warrior doll.

Today's story originally appeared in the April 1952 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories under a different title. Maybe the editor didn't think he could get away with "F - - -," even though it turns out to stand for a different four-letter word entirely. The title he did use, though, does rather give away a surprise that Matheson carefully keeps for a third of the story.

"F - - -" is a light-hearted time travel story that, twelve years before the Supreme Court adopted "I know it when I see it" as the standard for pornography, demonstrates that obscenity is indeed in the eye—and other sensory apparatus—of the beholder.

The new accompanying artwork is by Kevin Farrell, whose work we've seen here before. Here, he gives us a futuristic crowd scene, which must absorb a lot of time in designing the costumes.

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