As Serling’s widow, Carol, so fittingly states in the introduction of the soon to be released Twilight Zone Anthology: 19 Original Stories on the 50th Anniversary – the landmark television series “sparked the imaginations of countless writers, filmmakers, and fans around the world, and is considered a seminal show for broadening the horizons of both television and fiction.”
As a kid, I loved the show’s creepy theme song and Serling’s gravelly voice introducing every episode: “You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension; a dimension of sound; a dimension of sight; a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas… you've just crossed over into the Twilight Zone."
My favorite episode, not surprisingly, is “Time Enough At Last,” adapted from a short story by Lyn Venable, which follows a book lover shortly after a hydrogen bomb destroys civilization. All alone in the world, he stumbles across the ruins of a library and finds hundreds upon hundreds of books – but then, with time enough at last to read to his heart’s content, he breaks his glasses!
With the 50th anniversary of the airing of the first episode of The Twilight Zone quickly approaching (“Where Is Everybody” was broadcast on October 2, 1959, on CBS), I have taken great pleasure in reading the 19 stories in this new Twilight Zone anthology, edited by Carol Serling. It’s been a kind of nostalgic experience. Each story is formatted like an old Twilight Zone episode and there are some brilliant writers featured in this collection – Laura Lippman, Whitley Strieber, Tad Williams, Kelley Armstrong, R.L. Stine, Timothy Zahn, Joe R. Lansdale, and Carole Nelson Douglas, to name just a few. Standout stories like Lansdale's "Torn Away," about an undead shapeshifter running from his shadow – and certain death, and "Vampin' Down the Avenue" by Zahn, in which a mysterious man makes a Hollywood star invisible to the papazazzi – for a price, will surely compel readers to seek out and watch some of the classic black-and-white Twilight Zone episodes.
So, if you’re old enough to remember William Shatner freaking out on a plane after he sees a gremlin destroying the wing, or if you remember the line from the episode “To Serve Man” –“It's a cookbook!” – then I strongly recommend that you include this anthology on your “to-read” list this fall…