Thursday, February 15, 2018

Reading Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine, Part 7

In which we take a closer look at each issue of the magazine. For our capsule history, go here. 

Volume 1, number 7 (October, 1981)

Editor: T.E.D. Klein
Cover Art: Tito Solomoni (for “Offices” by Chet Williamson)

TZ Publications
President & Chairman: S. Edward Orenstein
Secretary/Treasurer: Sidney Z. Gellman
Executive Vice-Presidents: Leon Garry, Eric Protter
Executive Publisher: S. Edward Orenstein
Publisher: Leon Garry
Associate Publisher and Consulting Editor: Carol Serling
Editorial Director: Eric Protter
Editor: T.E.D. Klein
Managing Editor: Jane Bayer
Contributing Editors: Gahan Wilson, Theodore Sturgeon
Editorial Assistant: Marc Stecker
Design Director: Derek Burton
Art and Studio Production: Georg the Design Group
Production Director: Edward Ernest
Controller: Thomas Schiff
Administrative Asst.: Eve Grammatas
Public Relations Manager: Jeffrey Nickora
Accounting Mgr.: Chris Grossman
Circulation Director: Denise Kelly
Circulation Assistant: Karen Wiss
Circulation Marketing Mgr.: Jerry Alexander
Western Newsstand Consultant: Harry Sommer, N. Hollywood, CA
Advertising Manager: Rachel Britapaja
Adv. Production Mgr.: Marina Despotakis
Advertising Representatives: Barney O’Hara & Associates, Inc.


--In the Twilight Zone: “Wonders Never Cease” by T.E.D. Klein
--Publisher’s Note by Carol Serling
--Other Dimensions: Books by Theodore Sturgeon
--Other Dimensions: Screen by Gahan Wilson
--TZ Interview: Richard Matheson by James H. Burns
--“Out of Place” by Pamela Sargent
--“Shootout in the Toy Shop” by Robert Sheckley
--“Zeke” by Timothy Robert Sullivan
--“The Burden of Indigo” by Gene O’Neill
--“Sea Change” by George Clayton Johnson
--TZ Screen Preview: The Beast Within by Robert Martin
--Dr. Van Helsing’s Handy Guide to Ghost Stories, Part III by Kurt Van Helsing (T.E.D. Klein)
--“Offices” by Chet Williamson
--“The Tear Collector” by Donald Olson
--“The Great Elvis Presley Look-Alike Murder Mystery” by Mick Farren
--“Paintjob” by Jay Rothbell
--The Twilight Zone: The Third Season by Marc Scott Zicree
--Show-By-Show Guide: TV’s Twilight Zone: Part Seven by Marc Scott Zicree
--TZ Classic Teleplay: “The Big, Tall Wish” by Rod Serling
--Looking Ahead: In November’s TZ . . .

--In the Twilight Zone: Wonders never cease . . .
-Klein’s editorial column follows standard procedure for this issue, brief bios of the contributing writers along with their thumbnail images. Klein calls attention to the fact that Marc Scott Zicree’s guide to the series no long has to rely upon publicity images for each episode as the dean and students at the Ithaca College School of Communication have sent the magazine images from the episodes taken from the school’s Rod Serling Archive.

--Publisher’s Note by Carol Serling
-This is Serling’s first return since the premier issue and she uses the occasion to share some of the encouraging letters the magazine offices have received since the publication began, as well as promote the magazine’s new short story contest.

--Other Dimensions: Books by Theodore Sturgeon
-In a change of pace, Sturgeon looks at fewer titles than usual and uses the majority of the column to trumpet John Crowley’s novel Little, Big, which Sturgeon describes this way: “More than five hundred pages, and when you reach the end, you mourn that there are no more, and you deeply envy those who have yet to read it; you wish you could be a fly on the wall to watch their surprise and delight as they turn these magic leaves.”

-Sturgeon also briefly looks at Stephen Englehart’s The Point Man (“as exciting a slam-banger as you’ll find this year”), Index to the Science Fiction Magazines 1980 by Jerry Boyajian and Kenneth R. Johnson (“the editors are convinced that magazines are still where the action is, and so am I”), and War Games by Karl Hansen, perfect if “your thing is battle, sex, violence, and hardcore sf all at once.” Sturgeon ends the column by wishing congratulations to Donald A. Wollheim on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Wollheim’s DAW Books.

--Other Dimensions: Screen by Gahan Wilson
-Wilson takes the opposite approach of Sturgeon and increases the number of films he looks at in this issue from his usual two to four. Wilson takes a brief look at Escape from New York (1981, director: John Carpenter), Outland (1981, director: Peter Hyams), Superman II (1980, director: Richard Lester), and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981, director: Steven Spielberg).

-The only film Wilson dislikes on an artistic level is Superman II, which Wilson believes fails to capture the relatively innocent feel of the original comic books, mainly though the film’s use of realistic violence. Superman II suffered from a troubled production which saw Twilight Zone director Richard Donner, who helmed the first film, exit the production. In recent years, a “Richard Donner Cut” of the film has been released.

-Wilson’s takeaway from Escape from New York and Outland is the inherent bleakness of each film, as the directors of those films present our voyage into the future and into space as violent, cruel, and dominated by the machinations of big business. Wilson is more pleased with Raiders of the Lost Ark, which he views chiefly through the lens of nostalgia, though he cheapens the film by not recognizing the artistry which separates the film from its admitted source material, the Saturday serial matinee. Hindsight is 20/20, however, and the film has gone on to be considered a classic of the adventure film.

--TZ Interview: Richard Matheson, Spinning fantasy from daily life
By James H. Burns
-The concluding half of Burns’s two-part interview with Twilight Zone writer Richard Matheson is very rewarding. Matheson recounts his time scripting feature films, including an in-depth look at the Edgar Allan Poe series from director Roger Corman and American International Pictures. In this and subsequent sections of the interview Matheson occasionally comes off as difficult to please as he expresses dislike for the AIP Poe films as well as Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, which Matheson at one point had the opportunity to script until Hitchcock disagreed with Matheson’s vision that the birds should rarely be shown in the film.

-Matheson proceeds to discuss all of his film work for the large and small screens, those he scripted and those scripted by another hand based on his work. He discusses the difficulty in adapting his own work as well as in adapting the work of others. Some of the films Matheson discusses in detail include: The Morning After, Die! Die! My Darling, The Devil Rides Out, and The Stranger Within, the latter taken from Matheson’s story “Mother By Protest” (aka “Trespass”). Matheson also discusses the failings of The Legend of Hell House and Somewhere in Time, as well as his television ventures outside of The Twilight Zone, including the Star Trek episode “The Enemy Within,” which Matheson claims was tampered with by Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. Matheson discusses the production of Duel, his work with producer/director Dan Curtis, and the occasional odd project such as the television film Dying Room Only, which Matheson greatly enjoyed.

-Matheson concludes by discussing the effort to make a film from his latest novel, What Dreams May Come, a project which would not see fruition until 1998. Matheson also teasingly states that “I have loads of Twilight Zone episode ideas left over from when I was working on it. Hosting a fantasy series would be a lot of fun.” Unfortunately, we never got to see Matheson host his own fantasy series or use those Twilight Zone ideas. As I stated in last issue’s review, this interview with Matheson is one of the finest and most in-depth I’ve read outside of Matthew R. Bradley’s career retrospective interview “The Incredible Scripting Man.” It comes highly recommended. 

--“Out of Place” by Pamela Sargent

Illustration by Annie Alleman
“‘To see ourselves as others see us’ can be pretty disconcerting – especially when it’s through the eyes of your own pet cat!”

-Seen through the perspective of a housewife and her interactions with her pet housecat, the world awakens one day to find that the thoughts of animals can be heard aloud. Grade: B

-The strength of this tale lies in the fact that Sargent does not play it for laughs but commits to a serious extrapolation of what might occur if humans could suddenly hear what animals were thinking. Sargent predicts that animals would reveal our hates, prejudices, fears, and guilt but that ultimately humans would overcome this burden and force the social order to return to what it was before the advent of the “miracle.”

-Due both to its quality and to its subject matter concerning housecats, the story has been reprinted several times, most frequently in cat themed anthologies such as Magicats! (1984), Roger Caras’ Treasury of Great Cat Stories (1987), and The Cat Megapack (2013). The story was included in The Best of Pamela Sargent (1987).

-Sargent (born 1948), whom T.E.D. Klein describes as “one of science fiction’s most consistently interesting young novelist,” was near the beginning of her career when this story appeared but has since become one of the most productive and accomplished female voices in SF. She has been the recipient of two Nebula Awards, a Locus Award, and been nominated for dozens more. Her work as an editor is equally accomplished as she compiled three volumes of the Nebula Awards anthologies as well as the innovative and important Women of Wonder anthology series. Associate Publisher Carol Serling found a liking for Sargent’s work as Serling included a story from Sargent in all three anthologies Serling compiled for DAW Books between 1993 and 1995. Sargent was the only author to have a story in each anthology. 

--“Shootout in the Toy Shop” by Robert Sheckley

Illustration by Randy Jones
“Baxter was big, hard-boiled, and hard to scare. But he finally met his match in the . . .”

-A down-on-his-luck and unlikable private detective is given a much-needed job by the owner of a toy shop whose inventory is disappearing nightly. Grade: D

-Sheckley returns to the magazine with this brief tale which attempts to combine the hard-boiled genre with the fantasy tale and is largely unsuccessful in doing so. The problems lie in the tone and the length of the tale. Sheckley never settles on a proper tone for this one, unsure whether to play it for comedy or for suspense or for wonder. He settles for a bit of everything and the mixture doesn’t quite gel. Also, the tale is too short and centered on the wrong character. Though its premise of a living doll is hardly original, as a reader I would have rather spent time with the toymaker and the toys than with the unlikable private detective who gets a taste of tragedy when he instantly falls in love with the doll only to destroy it in a jealous rage.

-Sheckley (1928-2005) was known for his mordantly funny, bitingly satirical short science fiction and fantasy tales, collected in such volumes as Citizen in Space (1955), Shards of Space (1962), and The People Trap (1968). During the 1950s and early 1960s he was unquestionably one of the finest practitioners of the short story working in SF, during which time his work was frequently adapted for television. He won a special author Nebula Award in 2001. 

--“Zeke” by Timothy Robert Sullivan

Illustration by Chris Pelletiere
“An alienated man confronts ‘the world’s sleaziest roadside attraction’ – and ends up shaking hands with . . .”

-An albino man struggling to adapt after a messy divorce finds solace from a creature viewed at a roadside freak show on a lonely stretch of Florida highway. Grade: C

-This is the strangest tale in the issue and it possesses an overall quality of ambiguousness that somewhat captures of the feel of the original television series. In a brief passage, the protagonist imagines himself in a Twilight Zone episode with his movements described by Rod Serling’s narration. Again, this is another story in the issue with tonal problems, as much of it is described in terms which would normally denote humor, including broad, unflattering Southern archetypes, but Sullivan chooses instead to try and achieve a tone of awe and wonder, coupled with a rather weak attempt at a concluding moral. Sullivan also attempts, not altogether successfully, the old trick of presenting stereotypical characters only to display the fallacy of the stereotype.

-Sullivan (born 1948) appeared on the SF scene in the late 1970s with short fiction and the occasional essay in genre journals. His few attempts at the novel appeared in the late 1980s and early 1990s, during which time he also compiled the themed horror anthologies Tropical Chills (1988) and Cold Shocks (1991). Sullivan’s preferred form is the short story and he continued to place his short fiction with genre magazines as recently as 2015. 

--“The Burden of Indigo” by Gene O’Neill

Illustrated by José Reyes
“He wore the hated badge of the pariah. Why should the world care what was in his heart?”

-The tale follows the tragic events of a few days in the life a man cursed with the forced skin pigmentation of a social outcast in an unnamed future society. Grade: C

-This tale is marked by its strong social message, one which perhaps still speaks to us today, as it concerns a group of social outcasts who are marked with varying shades of synthetic skin pigmentation based upon an undisclosed tier of social or criminal transgression. O’Neill is wise in not attempting to delineate too much of the future/alternate society in which his tale takes place, leaving much of the detail to the imagination of the reader. The fault in the tale lies in the ambiguousness of character, as O’Neill is clearly attempting the tone of a moral fable but only succeeds in giving the reader enough of a glimpse of character to be disappointed when that glimpse does not flower into a fuller illustration. In other words, a reader may find it difficult to care for a character one knows little to nothing about. The main message of the tale rings clear, however, and that is the brutality of the righteous often equals or exceeds that of the transgressor.

-“The Burden of Indigo” was O’Neill’s (born 1938) second professional published SF story and he has continued to turn out short fiction and the occasional SF novel to the present day, mostly in the horror and dark fantasy genres. He has been nominated for multiple Bram Stoker Awards, winning two, one for his 2009 fiction collection Taste of Tenderloin and again in 2012 for his novella “The Blue Heron.” A recent interview with O’Neill can be found in the March, 2016 issue of Lamplight magazine. 

--“Sea Change” by George Clayton Johnson

Illustration by Robert Morello
“Lucho had a horrifying secret – even more horrifying than he himself realized.”

-A gunrunner suffers a gruesome accident in which he loses his hand only to discover that his hand has slowly grown back and the lost appendage has grown a doppelganger. Grade: B

-“Sea Change” was originally written as a story treatment and sold to The Twilight Zone for production during the second season. For reasons of objection from a sponsor of the series, a food company who believed that the story’s gruesome subject matter would turn viewers from their appetite, series producer Buck Houghton was forced to ask Clayton Johnson to buy back the story. Johnson, who had subsisted by occasionally selling his stories to the series, resulting in such episodes as “The Four of Us Are Dying” and “Execution,” used the opportunity to offer Houghton a deal. Johnson agreed to buy back his story under the condition that he was allowed an attempt to write an original teleplay for the series. Houghton agreed and the result, “A Penny for Your Thoughts,” marked the first of several distinguished episodes from Clayton Johnson’s typewriter, including such classic segments as “A Game of Pool” and “Nothing in the Dark.”

-The title is taken from Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1610 or 1611: “Nothing of him that doth fade, /But doth suffer a sea-change, /into something rich and /strange,”). Had the tale been dramatized on the television series, it likely would have resulted in a truly unique and unsettling segment which may be viewed as a classic along the lines of Johnson’s other efforts. It also would have struck a pleasing strain of Gothic horror too seldom featured on the series. As it is, Johnson held on to the tale for twenty years before allowing it to appear in this issue, the first of several such “lost” episodes that the magazine would feature in its pages. “Sea Change” was nominated for the now-defunct Balrog Award for superior achievement in short fiction and was reprinted a year later in Great Stories from Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine, the only annual issue the magazine produced, as well as in the first issue of Night Cry, indications that T.E.D. Klein thought highly of the tale. Johnson chose the story as representative of his work for Masters of Darkness, edited by Dennis Etchison, and the story appears in Johnson’s career retrospective, All of Us Are Dying and Other Stories.

-Johnson’s (1929-2015) skills at characterization were rivaled only by Rod Serling on the series and in this brief tale he develops two clearly delineated characters that immediately pull the reader into the dramatic situation. The concept itself may seem hackneyed to a modern reader but one must remember that Johnson originally wrote the material in 1962. If there is a fault with the tale it lies in its brevity. It feels too much like a story treatment rather than a proper story. That being said, it hardly suffers for this and remains an intriguing and enjoyable tale. 

--TZ Screen Preview: The Beast Within by Robert Martin
-Martin’s latest look at upcoming horror films covers the production of The Beast Within, a 1982 film which began life when producer Harvey Bernard bought the film rights to Edward Levy’s novel of the same name merely from reading the description of the novel in a catalog from publisher Arbor House. Needless to say, the film does not follow the events of the novel. The resulting film was not successful, monetarily or critically, and has largely been forgotten except by those with a taste for cult films or those with a particular interest in horror films. Directed by Phillipe Mora from a screenplay by Tom Holland (later a successful horror film director, Fright Night, Child’s Play, etc.), the story concerns the emerging bestial nature of the teenaged progeny of a rape. Among the cast is Twilight Zone actor R.G. Armstrong, who had a memorable role as the sympathetic contractor in “Nothing in the Dark.”

--Dr. Van Helsing’s Handy Guide to Ghost Stories by Kurt Van Helsing (T.E.D. Klein)
Illustrated by Lee Brown Coye, with illustrations taken from the August Derleth-edited anthologies Sleep No More (1944) and Who Knocks? (1946).

-For this third installment of Klein’s examination of the literary ghost story, the writer considers the esthetics of the ghost story, with particular attention paid to form, tone, and the unity of effect in the successful tale of the supernatural.

-This installment is much more engaging than the previous entries for no other reason than Klein finally gets down to examining what makes a ghost story successful as well as offer an answer to the question of why there are relatively few truly distinguished ghost stories despite the thousands which have been written since the birth of the literary form. Klein largely espouses the views first proposed by M.R. James, author of some of the finest ghost stories in the English language, who opined, in the preface to his second collection of ghostly tales, More Stories of an Antiquary (1911), that the ghost story works best when the ghost is "malevolent or odious: amiable and helpful apparitions are all very well in fairy tales and local legends, but I have no use for them in a fictitious ghost story." Klein also forwards the opinion that the humorous ghost story is in fact rarely humorous, serving only to undermine the essential ingredient in the proper ghostly tale: the reader must be made to believe that these uncanny events can happen and thus be frightened by that realization. Klein also believes the tale of supernatural horror should be short in nature, no longer than a short novel, as it is difficult to maintain the essential atmosphere of the ghostly tale over a long novel. Klein disparages the five hundred page novels which were popular at the time. Ironically, Klein produced one of these giant supernatural novels, and a fine one at that, a few years later with The Ceremonies (1984). Klein prominently quotes from successful authors of ghost stories, from Edith Wharton and Henry James to Walter de la Mare and L.P. Hartley. Klein also promises a fourth and final installment next issue. 

--“Offices” by Chet Williamson

Illustrated by José Reyes
“The twentieth century has spawned a whole new way of life. Now it’s even spawned a new breed of ghost.”

-A copywriter discovers that the spiritual essences of his coworkers haunt the office building during the nighttime hours. Grade: A

-“Offices” was Chet Williamson’s (born 1948) first professionally published short story and received the cover of this issue of the magazine. It is no surprise, however, as T.E.D. Klein knew he had something special when Williamson submitted this tale. It is easily the finest in the issue and one which perfectly captures that unique Twilight Zone feel. It is a shame “Offices” wasn’t adapted for the revival Zone television series.

-“Offices” may remind one a bit of Charles Beaumont’s “The Vanishing American” in its examination of the effects of the nine-to-five workday on the spirit of the common person. Williamson has produced an admirable body of SF fiction, having garnered multiple award nominations for his efforts, winning the now-defunct International Horror Guild Award in 2002 for his story collection Figures in Rain. Williamson recently completed a sequel to Robert Bloch’s novel Psycho published by Thomas Dunne Books in 2016 as Robert Bloch’s Psycho: Sanitarium.

--“The Tear Collector” by Donald Olson

Illustrated by E.T. Steadman
“His rows of colored bottles were beautiful to look at – but how many lives had he squeezed dry to fill them?”

-A young woman with a propensity to cry is engaged by a rich tear collector. Grade: C

-This slight fable of fortune and misfortune is the rather simple tale of a young woman who suffers a series of misfortunes and has a propensity to cry. She has a chance encounter with an eccentric collector of tears. She soon falls in love with the collector, bringing her happiness and after which she can no longer provide tears, thus ending their relationship. The ending suggests an amusing narrative cycle.

-Olson (born 1938) has not produced a great amount of SF material but has seen “The Tear Collector” adapted for the television series Tales from the Darkside, a competitor to the revival Twilight Zone series, as the sixteenth episode of the first season. He has seen some of his other short stories published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and subsequently reprinted in one of the various book anthologies which bear Hitchcock’s name.

--“The Great Elvis Presley Look-Alike Murder Mystery” by Mick Farren
Illustrated by George Chastain
“There were dozens and dozens of suspects – all of them sporting sideburns and guitars!”

-A detective is tasked with sorting through the suspects of a murder at an Elvis Presley look-alike contest. Grade: B

-This one is an entertaining and funny riff on a classic mystery set-up. Farren has a gift for characterization that carries the tale along and the ending, though somewhat weak, has a pleasingly uncanny edge. Farren (1943-2003) was equally known as a singer, journalist, and fiction author. He was associated with the British underground music scene and much of his fiction reflects his interest in rock n’ roll and related subjects. Farren found time to be an impressively prolific author, not only in the realm of SF but also in fringe non-fiction and journalism. He began publishing SF with his 1973 novel The Texts of Festival and continued to produce SF stories and novels until his death. 

--“Paintjob” by Jay Rothbell

Illustrated by Earl Killeen
“A painting’s supposed to be two dimensional, not three – and certainly not four.”

-A proud landlord sets out to paint over a mural created by a tenant with unexpected results. Grade: C

-This slight tale has not aged well in one particular area, its unsympathetic portrayal of immigrants. Rothbell’s immigrant landlord is an extremely controlling, ignorant, and unlikable figure who hates Americans and who one assumes will come out of his frightening experience wiser but it is uncertain that he will do so. Nevertheless, Rothbell evokes some memorable imagery in the tale and the final third descends into the impressively hallucinogenic strains of a nightmare.

-Rothbell (born 1954) is perhaps best known as the fourth wife of writer Robert Sheckley and is sometimes credited as Jay Sheckley. They met and married in 1981 and after only a few years their marriage ended in divorce. Rothbell collaborated with Sheckley on a story, “Spectator Playoffs,” published in Night Cry. Rothbell would go on to provide both Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine and Night Cry with several additional stories and articles. She ceased writing SF in the late 1980s.

--The Twilight Zone: The Third Season by Marc Scott Zicree
-Here Zicree writes a brief essay on the transition from the second to the third season of the original television series, something he had not done for the second season transition but something he would later incorporate into his The Twilight Zone Companion.

--Show-By-Show Guide: TV’s Twilight Zone, Part 7
-Zicree continues his guide to the original television series with episode summaries along with Rod Serling’s opening and closing narrations. With this issue, Zicree enters the third season of the series. The episodes Zicree covers, all of which we have also covered here in the Vortex, include: “Two,” “The Arrival,” “The Shelter,” “The Passersby,” “A Game of Pool,” “The Mirror,” and “The Grave.”

--TZ Classic Teleplay: “The Big, Tall Wish” by Rod Serling
-Presented here is the full original teleplay for Serling’s “The Big, Tall Wish,” filmed as the 27th episodes of the first season, directed by Ronald Winston, and starring Ivan Dixon. The episode originally aired on April 8, 1960. You can read Brian’s review of the episode here.

--Looking Ahead: In November’s TZ
-Coming up in the next issue are stories by Tanith Lee, Thomas M. Disch, Evan Eisenberg, Clark Howard, Melissa Mia Hall, Gordon Linzner, Juleen Brantingham, Stanley Schmidt, and a now-classic (and controversial) horror story by Ramsey Campbell. Robert Martin previews Halloween II, Klein, writing as Kurt Van Helsing, completes his examination of ghost stories, and Rod Serling’s classic teleplay, “Death’s Head Revisited,” is presented in full. See you back soon!


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Bookshelf Essentials:

The Twilight Zone Story Adaptations by Rod Serling and others 
Omnibus ed. 1998

The Twilight Zone endures for many reasons but prime among those reasons are the stories told on the series. It was Rod Serling’s recognition of the dramatic potential of the fantasy tale, as well as the clout, the talent, and the collaborators to make good on that recognition, which resulted in the unusual and innovative stories dramatized on the series. It quickly became apparent, however, that the story potential of The Twilight Zone could not be hemmed in by a television screen. The stories showcased on the series could viably be adapted to other markets. The obvious marketing outlet for The Twilight Zone was printed media. As early as the spring of 1960, during The Twilight Zone’s first season, the series moved into comic books and the paperback book market.
            The first comic book version of The Twilight Zone, which began life as part of Dell’s Four Color series (#1173, March-May, 1960) and ran for another twenty years under its own title, did not directly adapt episodes of the television series and therefore does not fall within the purview of this examination. Despite his image on the cover of each issue, Serling had no hand in the production of material for the comic series. To read more about The Twilight Zone comics, go here.

        At nearly the same time The Twilight Zone comic series arrived on newsstands, Bantam Books released a paperback by Rod Serling titled Stories from the Twilight Zone. The book, released in April, 1960, cost 35 cents and displayed a cover image of Rod Serling sitting behind his typewriter striking a writerly pose. The “O” in Rod was a blazing red sun and the cover promised: “BRILLIANT, ORIGINAL, FASCINATING – a famous young TV dramatist now turns his hand to story-writing in this collection that goes from subtle shock to heart-stopping delight.” The book featured Rod Serling’s prose adaptations of six first season The Twilight Zone episodes: “The Mighty Casey,” “Escape Clause,” “Walking Distance,” “The Fever,” “Where Is Everybody?” and “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street.” The only qualification for the adaptations were that the stories must be based upon Rod Serling’s original teleplays, eliminating any teleplay not written by Serling or any which Serling adapted from a prior work, such as “Time Enough at Last” or “The Hitch-Hiker.”
Bantam was initially uncertain how to market the book, choosing to display a cover in line with Rod Serling the award-winning television dramatist rather than the outré images which later characterized The Twilight Zone marketing and adorned future editions of this and related books. The unimaginative cover hardly mattered, however, as the book was an instant success, going through four additional printings by the end of the year and many more in the two decades which followed.  
            Stories from the Twilight Zone was not Rod Serling’s first book but it was the first to show Serling adapting his dramatic scripts into prose form. Serling began his career-long association with Bantam Books in 1958 with the paperback edition of Patterns, Serling’s first book, issued in hardcover the previous year by Simon & Schuster. Patterns included the complete teleplays for Serling’s “Patterns,” “The Rack,” “Old Macdonald Had a Curve” (a script which, in part, received new life on The Twilight Zone as “The Mighty Casey”), and “Requiem for a Heavyweight,” along with an essay by Serling on writing for television, his personal commentary for each script, and a selection of photographs from the television productions.
For their new venture together, Serling and Bantam decided to try something different and offer short stories adapted by Serling from his Twilight Zone scripts. It was an inspired decision as it not only offered viewers new ways of encountering the stories but also ensured that Serling’s stories could be reprinted endlessly, not only in subsequent printings by Bantam but also by any anthologist who desired the inclusion of a Serling story. As such, Serling’s work began to find itself not only in a variety of fiction anthologies but also in school textbooks. It is many an American child who can remember encountering Serling’s prose version of “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street” in the classroom.
Serling preferred to dictate his writings into a recording device and have the work transcribed. This method of composition lent the stories a unique conversational style which the reader can easily imagine being spoken in Serling’s unmistakable voice and cadence.
An interesting aspect of Stories from the Twilight Zone, and of Serling’s subsequent story adaptations, is that the stories often feature scenes or characters which were altered, unfilmed, or cut from the finished productions on The Twilight Zone television series. The adaptation of “The Mighty Casey,” for example, features Serling’s original name for the fictional baseball team, The Brooklyn Dodgers, rather than the Hoboken Zephyrs used in the filmed episode. “Walking Distance” features a pensive prologue not seen in the filmed episode. Likewise, “Where Is Everybody?” and “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” feature interesting epilogues not utilized for the television series. For “Where Is Everybody?,” Serling included a final scene in which Mike Ferris, the amnesiac air force pilot, finds the stub of a movie ticket in his pocket once he is awakened from his nightmarish experience, suggesting that there was a supernatural element to his journey. Serling regretted not realizing this final scene in the television episode and partially rectified the situation with his similar second season episode, “King Nine Will Not Return,” in which sand in the shoes stands in for the mysterious movie ticket. The epilogue of “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street” displays the scope of the alien invasion in a montage of harrowing descriptions. Story adaptations from Serling’s later Twilight Zone books, such as “The Midnight Sun” and “The Shelter,” include entire scenes and characters excised from the television productions.
Pathfinder ed.
In 1964, Bantam incorporated Stories from the Twilight Zone into its Pathfinder series, an emerging line of paperback books for young adult readers. The Pathfinder series published an impressive range of material over the next fifteen years until the line was quietly retired. According to copy at the front of each Pathfinder volume, the books were part of: “A comprehensive and fully integrated series designed to meet the expanding needs of the young adult reading audience and the growing demand among readers of all ages for paperback books of high quality. Bantam Pathfinder Editions provide the best in fiction and non-fiction in a wide variety of subject areas. They include novels by classic and contemporary writers; vivid, accurate histories and biographies; authoritative works in the sciences; collections of short stories, plays and poetry. Bantam Pathfinder Editions are carefully selected and approved. They are presented in a new and handsome format, durably bound and printed on specially selected high quality paper.”
The Pathfinder edition of Stories from the Twilight Zone featured a price increase (45 cents) and a new cover image which displayed Rod Serling surrounded by a variety of cartoon monsters. The cover copy gave indication of how successful the book had been in the intervening years: “The celebrated, famous collection of weird, eerie, wonderful tales.” The Pathfinder edition became the standard edition until Bantam ceased printing the single volume in 1973. Stories from this volume, along with stories from Serling’s subsequent Twilight Zone adaptations, would feature in later omnibus editions.
Dutch ed.
Stories from the Twilight Zone, like Serling’s additional volumes of stories, also saw reprinting in translation. The first was a Dutch language version published in 1966 by Het Spectrum as part of their Prisma series. The Dutch title, “Verhalen uit het Schemerdonker” translates as “Stories from the Dusk.” The volume featured translations of Serling’s stories by P. Groen. The cover of the book offered a bit of confusion as it clearly illustrates Serling’s story “The Whole Truth,” an adaptation of which did not appear until Serling’s third Bantam book, New Stories from the Twilight Zone. “Stories from the Dusk” reprinted the entirety of Stories from the Twilight Zone and included “The Whole Truth” as a seventh story. The book was reprinted in 1983 by K-Tel as part of their Golden Label series with a cover image of John Lithgow taken from Twilight Zone: The Movie. In 1988, Het Spectrum issued a third edition of the book.
French ed.
A French language edition saw publication in 1986 from Presses de la Cité as part of their Futurama Superlights series with the intriguing title, “Les meilleures histoires de la quatriéme dimension,” or “The Best Stories of the Fourth Dimension.” The Futurama Superlights series would also feature Serling’s two subsequent Twilight Zone collections. The translation was performed by Odile Ricklin and the cover by Raymond Hermange depicts a scene reminiscent of Rod Serling’s “King Nine Will Not Return.” The book omits “The Mighty Casey.”
An Italian language edition appeared in 1992 as issue #1193 of the science fiction digest magazine Urania, edited by Giuseppe Lippi. With a cover by Oscar Chichoni and a translation by Antonio Cecchi, the Italian edition was published under the title “L’umanità è scomparsa,” or “Humanity Has Disappeared,” a reference to the story “Where Is Everybody?”
Italian ed.

Stories from the Twilight Zone was most recently reprinted in 2013 by Rod Serling Books, an operation created by Serling’s daughter Anne with the goal of offering Serling’s out of print books in new editions with new material. The new material consists of informative introductions written by members of the Editorial Board of Rod Serling Books, an impressive group of contributors which includes Anne Serling, Jim Benson, Scott Skelton, Mark Dawidziak, and Mark Olshaker. Anne Serling provides the introductions to all three volumes of Serling’s Twilight Zone stories, an engaging mix of personal memoir and look at the creation of the stories. 

           The success of Stories from the Twilight Zone ensured that additional volumes followed. In April, 1961, around the time “A Hundred Yards Over the Rim” was broadcast during The Twilight Zone’s second season, Bantam released a new Rod Serling collection, More Stories from the Twilight Zone. The cover showed cameo images of Rod Serling incrementally eclipsed by a golden circle. The cover copy stated: “By tremendous popular demand – more breathtaking stories of fantasy and imagination by the most sensational TV dramatist of today.” The contents of the book included Serling’s prose adaptations of episodes from the first and second seasons of the television series. Contents included: “The Lonely,” “Mr. Dingle, the Strong,” “A Thing About Machines,” “The Big, Tall Wish,” “A Stop at Willoughby,” “The Odyssey of Flight 33,” and “Dust.” More Stories from the Twilight Zone was reprinted five additional times in the first year of publication and continued to be printed as a single volume by Bantam until 1982.
Pathfinder ed.
            More Stories from the Twilight Zone was incorporated into the Bantam Pathfinder series in September, 1966, with an intriguing new cover which showed an interpretive diorama reflecting the events of “The Odyssey of Flight 33,” a story which served as the inspiration for several additional covers of Twilight Zone books, including a later Bantam edition of More Stories from the Twilight Zone which featured a painted cover by an uncredited artist depicting dinosaurs in a prehistoric jungle raging at the overhead passage of a modern airliner. The cover copy of the Pathfinder edition simply stated: “Wildly improbable, fantastic, eerie,” while the later edition stated: “Timeless tales of fantasy and suspense.”
            The French language edition of More Stories from the Twilight Zone appeared a year before the French language edition of Stories from the Twilight Zone. More Stories appeared in 1985 under the simple title “La quatrième dimension,” or “The Fourth Dimension,” from Presses de la Citè as part of their Futurama Superlights series. The uniform edition featured a cover by Raymond Hermange and a translation by Odile Ricklin. The Italian edition also appeared out of order with More Stories appearing in 1991 as “L’Odissela del volo 33,” or “The Odyssey of Flight 33.” The translation appeared as issue #1151 of Urania magazine, edited by Giuseppe Lippi and published by Arnoldo Mondadori. The cover by Vicente Segrelles, which cleverly illustrated the advancement in aeronautic technology to denote the passage of time, was likely inspired by the title story. The translations of the stories were a team effort. Paola Tomaselli translated “The Lonely,” “Mr. Dingle, the Strong,” and “A Thing About Machines,” Luis Piazzano translated “The Big, Tall Wish,” and Antonella Pieretti translated “A Stop at Willoughby,” “The Odyssey of Flight 33,” and “Dust.” Rod Serling Books made available a new edition of More Stories from the Twilight Zone in 2013 with a new introduction by Anne Serling. 

           New Stories from the Twilight Zone followed from Bantam Books in May, 1962 as a 35 cents paperback. Arriving during the third season of the television series as well as third in a line of books, New Stories displayed Bantam’s evolving approach to marketing the books, as the rather humorous cover shows Rod Serling’s head opening up to unleash an array of colors, patterns, and characters. The cover copy, “Another startling pack of weirdies out of that wonderful place,” indicates not only that Bantam began to base marketing directly upon the emerging trends of genre publishing but also that they were aware that the vast majority of their readership were young adults. Serling adapted a combination of episodes from the second and third seasons of the television series for New Stories. Contents included: “The Whole Truth,” “The Shelter,” Showdown with Rance McGrew,” “The Night of the Meek,” “The Midnight Sun,” and “The Rip Van Winkle Caper.” New Stories made the now customary move to the Pathfinder series in 1965 with an unnerving new cover by surrealist Robert Foster. The cover stated that the stories within were: “Bizarre, Zany, Supernatural!” A late Bantam books edition, issued after the demise of the Pathfinder series, featured a new cover with a diorama of symbolic images.
           A French language edition followed in 1985 as part of the uniform Futurama Superlights series from Presses de la Citè under the title “Nouvelles histoires de la quatrième dimension,” or “New Stories of the Fourth Dimension.”  Again, the cover was by Raymond Hermange and the translation by Odile Ricklin. Oddly enough, New Stories was the first of Serling’s trilogy of Twilight Zone books to be translated into Italian as issue #1139 of Urania magazine in 1990. The magazine was edited by Giuseppe Lippi, published by Arnoldo Mondadori, with a cover by Vicente Segrelles, and translations by Giorgio Pagliaro (“The Whole Truth”), Isabella Elizabeth Nizza (“The Shelter”), and Lea Grevi (“Showdown with Rance McGrew,” “The Night of the Meek,” “The Midnight Sun,” and “The Rip Van Winkle Caper”). Rod Serling Books offers a new edition of More Stories from the Twilight Zone in 2013 with a new introduction by Anne Serling. 

           The first omnibus edition of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone stories also appeared in 1962. The volume, From the Twilight Zone, was a hardcover published by Nelson Doubleday as a Book Club selection, though, oddly enough, not offered as a selection of the Science Fiction Book Club, where it would have flourished. From the Twilight Zone marked the first hardcover printing of Serling’s story adaptations. It contained 14 of the 19 stories from Serling’s Bantam collections, eliminating “The Fever,” “A Thing About Machines,” “A Stop at Willoughby,” “Showdown with Rance McGrew,” and “The Night of the Meek.” From the Twilight Zone saw two additional printings, one in 1965 and a final printing in 1969. 

         The transition of The Twilight Zone on television from season three to season four marked enormous change for the series as well as products bearing The Twilight Zone brand. During its brief cancellation, The Twilight Zone lost producer Buck Houghton and marked a stepping away from the production for series creator Rod Serling, who continued to film his obligatory hosting segments, as well as write the majority of scripts, but also chose to travel across the country to teach at the college level and thus leave the day-to-day production in the hands of new producer Herbert Hirschman. Serling’s stepping away would be felt in the marketing of the series as well. Two additional Twilight Zone volumes appeared during the course of the television series but these books saw deceased participation from Rod Serling. Serling was creatively burnt out (something he stated himself in several interviews of the time) and hardly had the energy or desire to continue to adapt his teleplays into prose for a book series.
            By 1963, it was apparent that there was a rich field of young adult readers to mine with The Twilight Zone books. Cayuga, Rod Serling’s production company, teamed up with publisher Grosset & Dunlap to produce a pair of new illustrated hardcover Twilight Zone books created for and marketed to young adult readers. Grosset & Dunlap, established in 1898, was the publisher of such young reader series as Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, The Lone Ranger, and many others. Veteran pulp writer Walter Brown Gibson, a multifarious creator best known for writing dozens of The Shadow adventures in the 1930s for Street & Smith publishers under the house name Maxwell Grant, was brought in to create new tales as well as adapt a select number of Rod Serling’s teleplays for the new books.
             The first to appear was Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone in 1963 as a $3.95 hardcover. The cover stated the objective of the new Twilight Zone book series: “13 new stories from the supernatural especially written for young people.” The illustrations were by Earl E. Mayan and an uncredited (likely written by Gibson) essay introduced the collection. The book chiefly consisted of Gibson’s original material, serviceable but standard pulp fare with titles such as “The Ghost-Town Ghost,” “The Avenging Ghost,” and “The Riddle of the Crypt.” Of greater interest are two adaptations of Rod Serling teleplays from the first season of The Twilight Zone, “Back There” and “Judgment Night.” Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone saw an additional printing before the year was out but enjoyed greater success as a paperback.
            In 1965, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone was reprinted in paperback by Tempo Books as Chilling Stories from Rod Serling’s the Twilight Zone. Although the book proved to be popular, reprinted an additional seven times between 1966 and 1971, the cover image chosen for the book, a figure walking along a twilit beach, is the worst cover to appear on any Twilight Zone book.
            The second volume from Grosset & Dunlap, Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone Revisited, appeared in 1964 as a $3.95 hardcover. Again illustrated by Earl E. Mayan, the cover stated: “Thirteen NEW and unforgettable explorations into the realm of the supernatural.” For this second volume, Gibson chose to adapt a larger number of Serling’s Twilight Zone episodes to accompany such original stories as “Edge of Doom,” “The Fiery Spell,” and “The Ghost of Jolly Roger.” Gibson adapted five of Serling’s episodes from the first and second seasons of the television series. These included: “The Purple Testament,” “A Hundred Yards Over the Rim” (adapted as “Beyond the Rim”), “The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine” (adapted as “The 16 Millimeter Shrine”), “The Man in the Bottle,” and “Mirror Image” (adapted as “The Mirror Image”). Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone Revisited, despite the presence of more Twilight Zone episode adaptations, did not perform as well as its predecessor, in hardcover or paperback, each of which saw only a single printing. The paperback, retaining the title of the hardcover, appeared in 1967 from Tempo Books with a marginally more appealing cover image than its paperback predecessor. The cover stated: “A new collection of startling explorations into the realm of the supernatural.” 

              A volume which likely escaped the notice of all but the most ardent collectors of Twilight Zone material is a 1979 book titled Stories from the Twilight Zone, issued along Bantam’s Skylark Illustrated Books line. The purpose of the Skylark line was to produce engaging material for emerging readers. The Skylark version of Stories from the Twilight Zone contained comic book style adaptations of the six stories contained in Rod Serling’s first Bantam collection of Twilight Zone stories. Writer Horace J. Elias and illustrator Carl Pfeufer adapted Serling’s stories into easily read, 9-page comic book stories. The format was a slightly larger paperback priced at $1.25 with a very un-Twilight Zone Medusa on the cover. The front cover stated: “Action, Adventure, Suspense, Easy and Fun to Read,” while the back matter contained such literacy tools as a vocabulary and context quiz. 

      Rod Serling’s association with Bantam Books flourished outside his production of Twilight Zone books. Like his television counterparts Alfred Hitchcock and Boris Karloff, Serling was tapped to put his name on a series of short story anthologies, in Serling’s case to be published by Bantam. 1963 saw the release of Rod Serling’s Triple W: Witches, Warlocks and Werewolves (“twelve horrifying tales for the demon in you collected by the man who wrote Stories from the Twilight Zone”) and 1967 brought Rod Serling’s Devils and Demons (“Fourteen tales of gripping terror collected by the man who wrote Stories from the Twilight Zone”), two volumes of horror stories by both classic and contemporary authors. The anthologies were capably ghost-edited by prolific science fiction author Gordon R. Dickson and featured, among its contents, authors whose material Serling worked with on The Twilight Zone and, later, on Night Gallery, such as Fritz Leiber and Malcolm Jameson, the latter of whose story, “Blind Alley,” included in Rod Serling’s Triple W, was adapted by Serling as “Of Late I Think of Cliffordville” for the fourth season of The Twilight Zone.
Both books went through multiple printings over the course of a few years and proved very popular, indicating the level to which the marketing power of Rod Serling’s name had risen as well as how indelibly attached to The Twilight Zone Serling’s reputation had become. A later Bantam volume, Rod Serling’s Other Worlds (“Fourteen amazing tales of galactic terror and suspense”) was released in 1978, three years after Serling’s death. It is highly unlikely that Serling had a hand in the compilation of stories, although no other editor has been verified as having worked on the book. Jack C. Haldeman, II, wrote the notes on the authors which preceded each story. The contents included many writers Serling associated with during his lifetime, including Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, William F. Nolan, and Fritz Leiber, as well as writers who would later contribute to Twilight Zone properties, such as Theodore Sturgeon and Dennis Etchison.
            The use of ghost editors on story anthologies was not an uncommon practice of the time, particularly when the stated editor was a television or film personality. Releasing a collection of short horror or fantasy stories seemed to be the trend in the 1960s and 1970s, as, along with Rod Serling, Vincent Prince, Basil Rathbone, Red Skelton, Brother Theodore, Christopher Lee, and Peter Cushing all placed their names on book anthologies usually, but not always, compiled by another editor.
The two most prolific figures in this practice were Alfred Hitchcock and Boris Karloff, who, like Rod Serling, enjoyed hosting their own television series. Hitchcock began placing his name on book anthologies with 1941’s The Pocket Book of Great Detectives and the “Hitchcock anthology” subsequently became an industry unto itself. At its height in the 1960s and 1970s, as many as two dozen anthologies bearing Hitchcock’s name appeared in a given year. Ghost editors Robert Arthur (co-creator of The Mysterious Traveler and creator of The Three Investigators) and, after Arthur’s death, Harold Q. Masur were responsible for a fine series of Hitchcock anthologies in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s with titles such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories They Wouldn’t Let Me Do on TV and Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories to Stay Awake By, after which the anthologies began to overly rely on reprints from Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.
            Although Boris Karloff certainly compiled some of his own anthologies, Tales of Terror (1943), And the Darkness Falls (1946, contents chosen from recommendations by Edmund Speare), and Boris Karloff’s Favorite Horror Stories (aka The Boris Karloff Horror Anthology) (1965), the actor and television host was just as likely to lend his image to a comic book series, Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery, or a book and record series, Boris Karloff Presents Tales of the Frightened, for which he provided no creative input.
            Bantam Books later provided Rod Serling a platform to produce three volumes related to the Night Gallery television series. These included the paperback edition of The Season to Be Wary (1968), which included two stories Serling adapted for the Night Gallery pilot film, as well as two volumes of Night Gallery stories created in the same manner as his Twilight Zone books for Bantam, Night Gallery (1971) and Night Gallery 2 (1972). Much like The Twilight Zone books Serling created for Bantam, the Night Gallery books included alternate versions of the television episodes as well as original material (“Does the Name Grimsby Do Anything to You?”) which never made it to television. All three of these volumes have been reissued by Rod Serling Books with very informative introductions by Jim Benson and Scott Skelton, authors of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour, and Mark Olshaker, an author and filmmaker who became close to Serling as a teenager. 

          The Twilight Zone has, of course, outlived its creator and reinvented itself through television revivals, comic book series, a film, a long-running magazine, and books. The decade of the 1980s saw a great influx of material and interest related to The Twilight Zone. 1981 marked the birth of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine, perhaps the most important publication related to Rod Serling’s legacy, while 1983 saw the release of Twilight Zone: The Movie, and 1985 brought about the first revival Twilight Zone television series. Among these milestone events appeared two omnibus volumes bringing back into print Twilight Zone material from decades earlier.
            In 1983, the value publishing arm of Random House brought out the omnibus Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone from its Wings Books and Bonanza Books publishing lines. This hardcover volume with an intriguing cover by Romas contained all the stories from the two Grosset & Dunlap collections by Serling and Walter B. Gibson. The cover stated: “26 unforgettable explorations into the Realm of the Supernatural” as well as “adapted by Walter B. Gibson.” One interesting feature of the volume is a concise but very detailed Rod Serling biography at the front of the book.
           July, 1983 also saw the release of the movie novelization of Twilight Zone: The Movie, from Warner Books. The book was written by Robert Bloch, almost exclusively known today as the author of the 1959 novel Psycho, upon which Alfred Hitchcock based his famous 1960 film. Bloch was a close friend to many of the writers of the original Twilight Zone series, particularly Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont, and Ray Bradbury, and wrote for virtually every genre television program of the time, including Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Thriller, and Star Trek, but never wrote for The Twilight Zone. Here, Bloch got his chance to deliver Twilight Zone material and turned out a movie novelization that is far better than the film deserved. The volume, much like Rod Serling's Bantam volumes before, even saw translation into Dutch and French. Read a critical account of how this book came to be here.
            Bantam returned to publishing Rod Serling material in 1986 with the $9.95 trade paperback omnibus volume Stories from the Twilight Zone. Issued under their Spectra imprint, the book featured a new introduction by author and editor T.E.D. Klein, who edited 37 issues of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine from 1981-1985. Bantam Spectra was created in 1981 to publish important works of speculative fiction in authoritative and affordable editions. Stories from the Twilight Zone contained all 19 stories from Serling’s three previous Bantam editions of his Twilight Zone books. The volume was reprinted as a $22.95 hardcover as The Twilight Zone: Complete Stories by TV Books in 1998.

         Two outlying works of interest are short story adaptations of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone teleplays by Serling’s daughter Anne. Both adaptations appeared in 1985 and are featured in The Twilight Zone: The Original Stories (paperback: Avon, hardcover: MJF), a volume which collects most of the original stories which served as source material for Twilight Zone episodes. The book was compiled by Martin Harry Greenberg, Richard Matheson, and Charles G. Waugh. Anne Serling (as Anne Serling-Sutton) adapted her father’s teleplays for “One for the Angels” and “The Changing of the Guard,” the latter of which also featured in the January/February, 1985 issue of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine, as well as in the book anthologies Young Ghosts (Harper & Row, 1985), edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg, and Charles G. Waugh (an edition for the British market, Asimov’s Ghosts, appeared in 1986 from Dragon Press) and New England Ghosts (Rutledge Hill Press, 1990; part of the American Ghost Series) edited by Frank D. McSherry, Jr., Charles G. Waugh, and Martin H. Greenberg.

           The final work of Twilight Zone story material to close out the 1980s was a 1989 volume titled Tales from the New Twilight Zone from Bantam Spectra. The book was by prolific film, television, and prose writer J. Michael Straczynski. As part of a production transition between season two and season three of the Twilight Zone revival television series, Straczynski was brought in as Story Editor as well as to provide several original teleplays. Tales from the New Twilight Zone contains short story adaptations of his third season teleplays, including a collaborative work with Rod Serling, “Our Selena is Dying,” produced from an unfinished Serling teleplay. Straczynski provides an enormously informative and heartfelt introduction to the book, detailing the trials and triumphs of working on the third and final season of the series, as well as notes on each story.

            Although there were no new Twilight Zone episodes on television in the 1990s, The Twilight Zone brand marched on in a plethora of familiar ways. 1990 saw the birth of the erratically published NOW Comics Twilight Zone series, which lasted until 1993. The series did offer one memorable story adaptation, when Neal Adams illustrated Harlan Ellison’s “Crazy as a Soup Sandwich” for the premier issue of the series. 1991 saw the release of a book anthology, New Stories from the Twilight Zone, from Avon Books, which functioned as a companion to The Twilight Zone: The Original Stories in that it collected the source material for episodes from the revival television series. The book’s title was changed to The New Twilight Zone when issued in hardcover by MJF Books in 1997 to avoid confusion with Rod Serling’s 1962 Bantam Book New Stories from the Twilight Zone.
 Serling’s widow, Carol, edited a trilogy of original story anthologies for DAW Books, beginning with Journeys to the Twilight Zone (1993), continuing with Return to the Twilight Zone (1994), and concluding with Adventures in the Twilight Zone (1995). The first two volumes were reissued in hardcover by MJF Books and each volume included a story by Rod Serling selected from his Night Gallery books. Carol Serling had earlier teamed up with Charles G. Waugh and Martin H. Greenberg to compile a selection of Night Gallery source material for Dembner Books under the title Rod Serling’s Night Gallery Reader (1987). The book was adapted as a four volume audio book series issued on cassette tape in 1992 and 1993 by Pharaoh Audio Books. Carol Serling would later mark the 50th anniversary of The Twilight Zone with a new pair of original anthologies, Twilight Zone: 19 Original Stories on the 50th Anniversary and More Stories from The Twilight Zone, released in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
             The most interesting material of the decade concerning story adaptation occurred in the audio realm and a little-known audio book project from Harper Audio. The project consisted of Twilight Zone actors reading Rod Serling’s stories from his 1960 collection Stories from the Twilight Zone. The series was released on cassette tape in six volumes between 1992 and 1994. The volumes consisted of (1) Fritz Weaver (“Third from the Sun,” “The Obsolete Man”) reading “The Mighty Casey,” (2) Cliff Robertson (“A Hundred Yards Over the Rim,” “The Dummy”) reading “Walking Distance,” (3) Roddy McDowall (“People Are Alike All Over”) reading “The Odyssey of Flight 33,” (4) Lois Nettleton reading the adaptation of “The Midnight Sun,” the episode she starred in, (5) Theodore Bikel (“Four O’Clock”) reading “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street,” and (6) Jean Marsh reading the adaptation of “The Lonely,” the episode she featured in. For those interested in learning more about these fugitive recordings, I highly suggest listening to “The Forgotten Twilight Zone” episode of Tom Elliott’s The Twilight Zone Podcast. Tom interviews Rick Harris, the producer of the audio books, and plays selections from each volume. 
          A far more ambitious audio undertaking opened the following decade when, in 2002, Falcon Picture Group revealed The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas across stations nationwide. Producer/director Carl Amari, host Stacy Keach, writer Dennis Etchison, and their production partners, including a diverse and impressive roster of actors and actresses, commenced to adapt nearly every episode of the original television series into high quality radio drama productions. The series adapted every original television episode except the fifth season episode “Come Wander with Me,” and produced additional original material along with radio drama adaptations of episodes which were slated to be featured on the television series only to be left unproduced. Of particular interest are the radio drama episodes created from the unrealized works of original series writers Charles Beaumont and Jerry Sohl, including “Who Am I?,” “Free Dirt,” “Pattern for Doomsday,” and “Gentlemen, Be Seated.” For a detailed history of the radio drama series and an episode guide, go here.

             In conjunction with the most recent Twilight Zone television revival, a UPN series which ran for a single season (43 episodes) in 2002, there appeared a series of Twilight Zone "doubles" adapting episodes from the new series into short prose novels, two to a book. Released in fives volumes by Black Flame Publishing between June, 2004 and July, 2005, the series featured work from such writers as Pat Cadigan and Christa Faust. The series appears to have been largely forgotten.
             Later in the decade, an interesting Twilight Zone project arose out of a college art class. Mark Kneece, an instructor of Sequential Art at the Savannah College of Art and Design, teamed up with the Rod Serling Estate and Walker Books to create eight self-contained graphic novels based on the original Twilight Zone teleplays of Rod Serling. Released over the course of 2008 and 2009, Kneence adapted Serling’s teleplays into comic book scripts illustrated by his students. The result was an engaging series of newly illustrated editions of Rod Serling’s classic Twilight Zone episodes. The volumes included: “Walking Distance,” illustrated by Dove McHargue, “The After Hours,” illustrated by Rebekah Issacs, “The Odyssey of Flight 33,” illustrated Robert Grabe, “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street,” illustrated by Rich Ellis, “The Midnight Sun,” illustrated by Anthony Spay, “Deaths-Head Revisited,” illustrated by Chris Lie, “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” illustrated by Rich Ellis, and “The Big Tall Wish,” illustrated by Chris Lie.


            Recent publications of interest include the aforementioned original anthologies compiled by Carol Serling to commemorate the 50th anniversary of The Twilight Zone. The first, Twilight Zone: 19 Original Stories on the 50th Anniversary, appeared in September, 2009 from Tor Books. Carol Serling included original fiction from a diverse array of contemporary science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers, including writers who produced material for The Twilight Zone television series, such as Earl Hamner, Jr. and Alan Brennert, as well as a story by Rod Serling’s brother, Robert J. Serling, and a previously unpublished story treatment, “El Moe,” from the files of Rod Serling. A companion volume, More Stories from the Twilight Zone, appeared in July, 2010 from Tor with much the same format, including a new piece from Rod Serling’s files, “An Odyssey, or Whatever You Call It, Concerning Baseball.”

            2013 brought about another Twilight Zone comic book series, this time from Dynamite Entertainment. Much like its predecessors, the new Twilight Zone comic book series elected to create original content rather than adapt material from the television series. Author J. Michael Straczynski was enlisted to create an overarching series which retained the unique feel of The Twilight Zone yet also updated the material for the 21st century. The result was a largely successful and interesting series collected along three story arcs over the next two years: The Way Out, The Way In, and The Way Back. Using additional creators, Dynamite produced a companion series which ran for four issues, Shadow and Substance, as well as a crossover title, The Twilight Zone: The Shadow (the pulp hero Walter B. Gibson was largely responsible for popularizing), and two annual anthology issues, The Twilight Zone: Lost Tales and The Twilight Zone: 1959.
              The Twilight Zone was a series in which the quality of the storytelling was paramount not only to the effectiveness of the productions but also to the enduring legacy of the series. The series was, more than anything else, a literary series, a storyteller’s showcase, and it was only natural that the stories told on the show, and those which it inspired, would enjoy a long shelf life between the covers of a modest collection of books, renewing and adding to an ever-growing library in each decade since the show premiered.  With a new television revival series on the horizon, one can reasonably expect renewed interest in The Twilight Zone and perhaps new books and stories to fill our shelves.

For more information on Twilight Zone and Night Gallery books, as well as resources on principal creators, visit The Vortex Library.  
Grateful acknowledgement is made to the Internet Speculative Fiction Database ( for bibliographic information and images. 

The Twilight Zone Story Adaptations:

-Stories from the Twilight Zone by Rod Serling (Bantam Books, 1960)

-More Stories from the Twilight Zone by Rod Serling (Bantam Books, 1961)

-New Stories from the Twilight Zone by Rod Serling (Bantam Books, 1962)

-From the Twilight Zone by Rod Serling (Doubleday, BCE, 1962)

-Rod Serling’s the Twilight Zone by Rod Serling and Walter B. Gibson (Grosset & Dunlap, 1963)

-Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone Revisited by Rod Serling and Walter B. Gibson (Grosset & Dunlap, 1964)

-Stories from the Twilight Zone by Rod Serling, stories adapted by Horace J. Elias and Carl Pfeufer (Skylark Illustrated Books, 1979)

-Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone by Rod Serling and Walter B. Gibson (omnibus edition; Random House, 1983)

-Twilight Zone: The Movie by Robert Bloch (Warner Books, 1983)

-“One for the Angels” by Anne Serling (as by Anne Serling-Sutton). From: The Twilight Zone: The Original Stories, edited by Martin Harry Greenberg, Richard Matheson, and Charles G. Waugh (Avon, 1985)

-“The Changing of the Guard” by Anne Serling (as by Anne Serling-Sutton). From: Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine, Jan/Feb, 1985, reprinted in The Twilight Zone: The Original Stories.

-Stories from the Twilight Zone by Rod Serling (omnibus edition; Bantam Spectra, 1986)

-Tales from the New Twilight Zone by J. Michael Straczynski (Bantam Spectra, 1989)

-The Twilight Zone Double Novels, 2004-2005: The Pool Guy/Memphis (Jay Russell); Upgrade/Sensuous Cindy (Pat Cadigan); Sunrise/Into the Woods (Paul Woods; Chosen/The Placebo Effect (K.C. Winters); Burned/One Night at Mercy (Christa Faust); Black Flame Publishing

-The Mark Kneece Graphic Novels (Walker, 2008-2009)


Additional Book Covers: