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Duel: Terror Stories by Richard Matheson - Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson I think it's a bad sign when I feel like my own rating is unfair to the book. =

The first book of Matheson's that I had ever read was I Am Legend, and while I didn't necessarily agree with the ideological aspect, the writing was great. So, coming into this book, I had pretty high expectations, and I feel like I was let down, a little.

These stories are definitely more science fiction than horror, which was another little let down. Don't get me wrong, I love science fiction too, but I was hoping for horror, and I didn't really get it.

That being said, the stories here were mostly good, with some that rose a bit higher, and some that faltered. The only one that just did not work for me at all was "When The Waker Sleeps". This one was written in second person narrative, and you tried and tried to get into the story, but no matter how hard you tried, you couldn't get past the personification of "you" being a brown-haired male wearing a tunic and tights getting into a car to go fight off some thing that was supposedly endangering your machines. Yeah. Really.
I think this one was probably an experiment for Matheson... Second person narrative is extremely difficult to do right, even by someone as talented as Matheson is. Tried three times, then I moved on.

If I had to choose a favorite, I would probably have to pick either "Return" or "One For The Books". Oddly enough, both of these are halves of two story related sets. "Return" and "F---" both featured the same main character and same theme, although they are very different stories themselves. "Trespass" and "One For The Books" have the same theme and... "purpose" I guess you could say, although there is nothing else similar in the stories at all.

Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, I'd have to add "The Test" to my list of favorites. This is a kind of "Death Panel" story as elderly people are given a set of memory, aptitude, physical and mental tests in order to determine whether they are high-functioning enough to be allowed to live another 5 years until the next test. It deals with the sociological issues that might arise from that kind of situation, or the lack thereof. It could be quite prophetic, you never know.

"Born of Man and Woman" is rather short, and a little bit haunting. There are no real details given, but from what we're able to deduce from the narration, our narrator lives a cruel existence. I found it to be very sad, and actually wished that the story was longer so that I could understand better. I felt like this one was rushed, not fully fleshed out. But, maybe that was on purpose. Our narrator only told what they knew, little though it may be.

"Brother to the Machine" was an interesting one, and was kind of similar to "Steel" (which I believe was made into a Twilight Zone episode), but I am not sure if they are actually related. Could be. "Brother" is about a robot who feels human, and examines what humanity really is.

I'm not going to go into all of the stories. I liked most of them, but I never really felt compelled to read this one as I felt compelled to read other Matheson, and other authors' works. I would definitely recommend it to science fiction fans, as Matheson is a must-read, in my opinion, but this is not his best, again in my opinion.