Book Review: I Am Legend

I Am LegendI Am Legend by Richard Matheson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. I listened to this on my iPod the last couple of days. Set, at the time, in the 1970’s, I thought it was outdated, and frankly, thought it could have used some better biology research. Even in the ’70’s we had microscopes with lights, not mirrors. We couldn’t see bacteria moving on a slide without killing, staining and fixing them and viewing under a 100X lens. And a disease was ‘released’ when there were (unexplained) bombings, wasn’t found by researchers, just by an average joe who found the moving bacteria right away.

I smirked. The reader is excellent, I’ve enjoyed him before, and continued to listen, assuming the books was written in the ’70’s.

Although the big bad uglies were called vampires, they were zombies. Wonderful, evil, disgusting, zombies, one of my favorite post-apocalyptic characters.

The MC, Robert Neville, is the last remaining man on Earth who is not infected by the bacteria. He feels he was immune because he was bit by a vampire bat when he was a soldier. He speculated that the bat was infected by the vamp virus and transmitted it to him. Since he didn’t get the virus directly from a human and he fought it off, he became immune. OK, I’ll overlook the fact that he could have been used to make a vaccine, or if it was a bacteria, that the researchers should have found, they could have tried antibiotics, but hey…the book was written in 1954. He did an amazing job detailing possibilities 20 years in the future. It’s easy to pick on a book written 57 years earlier, if you don’t realize it was written 57 years earlier:) Worse, if you’re a biologist who didn’t realize it was a book that early.

There are few books and shows that I am amazed by the far thinking of the author. One would be Star Trek, with the wonderful clam shell ‘Cell Phones. I’d like to add Richard Matheson as another. Doing a little research, I discovered he wrote some of those early Star Treks.

I haven’t seen the movie of the same name, though I understand it was updated. There were actually a few made, which attests to the longevity and adaptability of the basic premise. Very cool!

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: I Am Legend

  1. I am Legend is one of my very favourite books. I found it in a box of books from a house clearance many years ago and it has a permanent place in the bookcase. I love the premise that whether or not you are a hero or a monster comes down to what side you are on, and that someone will be looking at you from the other perspective. It has influenced my own thinking a lot over the years.

  2. There was a Twilight Zone story with Donna Douglas playing a beautiful (to our norms) woman who is considered ugly by the people surrounding her. Of course, by our norms, they are hideous. I wonder if he was involved in that story? He also wrote for TZ.

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