It seems strange to find a 1954 vampire novel in Millennium's "SF Masterworks" classic reprints series. I Am Legend
, though, was a trailblazing and later much imitated story that reinvented the vampire myth as SF. Without losing the horror, it presents vampirism as a disease whose secrets can be unlocked by scientific tools. The hero Robert Neville, perhaps the last uninfected man on Earth, finds himself in a paranoid nightmare. By night, the bloodthirsty undead of small-town America besiege his barricaded house: their repeated cry "Come out, Neville!" is a famous SF catchphrase. By day, when they hide in shadow and become comatose, Neville gets out his wooden stakes for an orgy of slaughter. He also discovers pseudoscientific explanations, some rather strained, for vampires' fear of light, vulnerability to stakes though not bullets, loathing of garlic, and so on. What gives the story its uneasy power is the gradual perspective shift which shows that by fighting monsters Neville is himself becoming monstrous--not a vampire but something to terrify vampires and haunt their dreams as a dreadful legend from the bad old days. I Am Legend
was altered out of recognition when filmed as The Omega Man
(1971), starring Charlton Heston. Avoid the movie; read the book. --David Langford
"I Am Legend is a better, tighter, sharper book than Dracula which makes it the best vampire novel ever written. It's a terrifying thriller, but also a canny moral lesson with an unforgettable finish." (Kim Newman EMPIRE
"Parts are very scary and vivid, while there's also the tale of a man who lives alone and spends his days scavenging for food and desperately hoping to find another human, and his nights in fear. Don't just see the film, experience this story as it was first told." (John West COVENTRY TELEGRAPH
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.