Saturday, 7 June 2008

Sci Fi Masterworks #2 : I Am Legend Review

First up - sorry Figgy, beat you to it, but seeing as you did the film, it's only fair.
The book, by Richard Matheson, is a dark, compelling affair. Unlike the film it's a lot more gritty and the vampires really are Vampires (though they are explained scientifically), he doesn't have a dog, he isn't a scientist and the cause of the plague isn't really explained.
The novel is quite short, the majority of which focuses on his mentality and his slow discovery of what the vampires are. Unlike the film, it's on a smaller, more down to earth scale - he has no radio to send transmissions to other survivors, indeed he even admits there's no way he would find a survivor, unless they were less than a days drive from his house.
This is a novel that excels because of its ending. It differs hugely from the film. I won't give it away, but there's no such happy ending for Robert, although there is for the world. It also makes the title make sense.
The film has slight Christian undertones, the sacrifice Robert makes etc.
This book doesn't have that.
Although there is a very weird section of a flashback, with several infected Charismatic Christians gathered for a service, still in their clear minds, repenting and asking God to save them from the Vampires and themselves. It doesn't make this clear, but I sense some Steven KIng style mockery of Christianity.
All and all, it's a very good book. Better than the film, it's like those good books that have an author, disciplined enough to give it an unhappy ending.
But there is a cliff hanger involving pills. I'll be happy to discuss it with you.
Sam Li.


A figleaf of your imagination said...

Hey Sam, since this book is in the SF Masterworks series do you mind if I retitle and tag this post so that it says so? Everything else I'll leave the same.

Samuel Li said...