For many science fiction and fantasy fans – at least those of us firmly entrenched in middle-age – watching episodes of The Twilight Zone was one of our most vivid childhood memories when it came to experiencing thought-provoking, socially relevant speculative fiction. Aside from exploring (allegorically) significant issues of the day – the threat of nuclear war, prejudice, racism, the apocalypse, etc. – The Twilight Zone played a hugely significant role in bringing science fiction and dark fantasy to the masses. Of the 156 episodes that were written during the television show’s original run – from 1959 to 1964 – 92 of those stories were written by Rod Serling himself but many were penned by some genre legends, including Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont, and Damon Knight.



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…

 

 http://www.tvjab.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/film-twilight-zone.jpg

Comments
by on ‎08-19-2009 10:27 AM

Paul,

 

Another great article.  I don't think tha I will personallu read the anthology since I'm in the minority about liking the show and watching it because I didn't but I like how you put it and most people will enjoy it.

 

Toni

by on ‎08-19-2009 11:19 AM

Love the article, I don't suppose we will have this as a selection on SciFi/Fantasy will we?

by Moderator becke_davis on ‎08-19-2009 03:35 PM
Paul - Time Enough at Last was my favorite episode -- no surprise there. I've always made a point of having lots of reading glasses around the house . . . just in case!
by FindingLydia on ‎08-19-2009 07:20 PM
That's funny; I don't remember all the episodes like you but the one I do remember is Time Enough at Last- oh the pain of irony!
by on ‎08-20-2009 12:02 AM
Where to begin! I love when there is a marathon of Twilight Zone on. One of my favorite TV days. “Time Enough At Last" is definitely my favorite. But you listed some great episodes. I will be reading this collection. Another great article.
by B&N Bookseller melissas on ‎08-20-2009 02:04 AM
Alhough I am not firmly entrenched in middle-age, I enjoyed growing up with this show. It's easily the best show in the history of television. "Time Enough at Last" is my second favorite episode, only slightly edged out by "The Hunt". (Dogs are probably the only thing I love more than books.) I cannot wait to get my hands on this! But I have to admit, you could always tell when an episode was written by Serling himself, and I'm afraid no other authors can compete with his twisted genius.
by Moderator dhaupt on ‎08-20-2009 09:56 AM

Great article Paul, and yes I was always in front of the tiny tv screen with my fingers splayed open over my eyes to close at a moments notice when the scary stuff started.

I have a few favorite episodes one being the one you mentioned. The other two I don't remember the titles of:

In this episode there is a couple stuck inside of a house they can't get out and in the end you find out they are some giant childs living dolls.

In this episode there is a woman wearing a brooch that looks like a mouse or some other small rodent and in the end the brooch comes to life, grows and all you hear is a man screaming.

The Twilight Zone had some seriously scary stuff for 50s and 60s TV. 

by on ‎08-20-2009 04:58 PM
They were all in syndication repeat by the time I came along. But they did still warp my formative years. (smile)
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