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Nightmare at 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories | [Stephen King (introduction), Richard Matheson]

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories

Much of Richard Matheson's work has found its way into pop culture: the title story became a memorable episode of television's The Twilight Zone, and more recently, Will Smith starred in the blockbuster movie I Am Legend. Stephen King has declared Matheson to be one of his favorite writers. Find out why as you listen to the classic horror story of a man who peers out of his airplane window to see a gremlin destroying the wing.
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Publisher's Summary

One of the finest and most influential horror writers of the 20th century, Richard Matheson (I Am Legend, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Somewhere in Time) has left his stamp on the collective imagination. Here are more than 20 of Matheson's most memorable tales of fear and paranoia, personally selected by the author. Many of these stories have already entered into popular culture, including the title story, which became a landmark episode of The Twilight Zone, and "Duel", the nail-biting tale of man versus machine that inspired Steven Spielberg's first film.

Other stories include "First Anniversary", "Dress of White Silk", "Witch War", "Dance of the Dead", "Mad House", "Prey", "Blood Son", "Crickets", "Wet Straw", "The Children of Noah", "Through Channels", "Old Haunts", "Disappearing Act", "The Holiday Man", "Legion of Plotters", "The Distributor", "Long Distance Call", "Slaughter House", and "The Likeness of Julie".

Find out why Stephen King (who wrote the introduction) has called Matheson one of his favorite writers.

©2002 RXR, Inc.; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"The well-known title tale about a nervous air traveler is a showcase for the author's trademark less-is-more prose style, which suspensefully delineates a psychological tug-of-war between man and a monster that may be purely imagined. Timeless in their simplicity, [Matheson's] stories are also relentless in their approach to basic fears." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.3 (26 )
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3.3 (7 )
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3.8 (5 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Daniel Dublin, Ireland 09/08/2012
    Daniel Dublin, Ireland 09/08/2012 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    115
    6
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    Overall
    "Great stories, well read"

    These stories are full of rage and horror. A story about a house that has absorbed a man's lifetime of anger; a story about a man who systematically provokes hatred and violence among neighbours for no apparent reason; a story about a writer so full of self-loathing and despair that he ceases to exist; a story about a tie salesman for whom other people are a perpetual hell of sound and slime. These stories are the essence of their author. Someone who understands human darkness very well.

    They are, I believe, chronlogically ordered and so there is some variation in quality. Some readers are better than others but in general they are excellent. Conrad John Schuck may be an acquired taste...but I have come to like him best - especially reading "Wet Straw".

    I think anyone who wants to understand modern horror writing should give this a chance and listen to every story carefully.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jason Brough, United Kingdom 31/08/2012
    jason Brough, United Kingdom 31/08/2012 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "brilliant and timeless"

    this is a must for any horror or quirky twilight zone fans.Must admit i only downloaded because of the intro from Stephen King but so glad i did really enjoyed this collection of short stories.Highly recommended

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Farnborough, Hampshire, United Kingdom 26/11/2009
    Chris Farnborough, Hampshire, United Kingdom 26/11/2009 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    2
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    "the worst audio book I have ever listened to"

    I would have to say that this is the worst audio book that I have ever attempted to listen to. I say attempted as I gave up on the whole thing having flicked through the first 6 short stories having to give up on each on due to either totally lame story lines or terrible and in one instance intelligible narration. I appreciate that everyone has different tastes, but this is terrible. I was particularly drawn to this book as Stephen King does the intro and I enjoy a number of his books so thought (foolishly) that they would be of a similar caliber. If I know how to ask Audible for a refund I would do as this is so bad. If you are looking at buying this one, please save your money and move on to another book.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sara Llanwrtyd wells, United Kingdom 09/10/2009
    Sara Llanwrtyd wells, United Kingdom 09/10/2009 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    174
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    179
    77
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    "Some good, some incomprehensible to me."

    I enjoyed a lot of these stories, especially the title one. Some of them are more accessible than others, with some of them leaving me wondering what actually happened. There were just a couple which I did not reach the end of, skipping on to the next. as a big fan of the author, I would say his novels are better than his short stories, only because when he writes a full novel he is committing time and effort to a good idea from the start. With some of the shorts, you feel they are like 'fast-food' versions of his ability - knocked up over a day or so. The narrator does an excellent, expressive job of the stories.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Terry Southport, United Kingdom 13/04/2013
    Terry Southport, United Kingdom 13/04/2013 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
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    "Nightmare At 20000 ft"

    The first story was good but frustrating and not particularly scary. Thought the other stories a little strange as every one seem to finish abruptly leaving the outcome to your imagination. Not my cup of tea I'm afraid, stopped listening after half a dozen stories.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah GLASGOW, United Kingdom 19/11/2011
    Sarah GLASGOW, United Kingdom 19/11/2011 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    267
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    "A good few scares"

    The title says it all, the first one was an episode of the Twilight Zone movie, not recommended for those with a fear of flying!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-6 of 6 results
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  • skee a. Goedhart
    01/07/09
    Overall
    "An Excellent Collection"

    I've listened to numerous short story horror collections through
    Audible and have to say that this is one of the finest. Unlike many other collections which tend to meander, wandering in and out of the horror genre, Mr Matheson's writing is pure terror; bold, original (even against contemporary authors) and, to quote Mr. King's introduction, 'unrelenting'. From the opening tale Matheson puts you on the edge of your seat and then never gives you a moments' rest! Well narrated, nice clear recording.

    24 of 24 people found this review helpful
  • Mason
    Lakewood, CO, USA
    02/11/09
    Overall
    "Great collection - false advertising"

    Great stories. I was happy to get turned on to Richard Matheson and wish I would have discovered him sooner. My only complaint is that the advertising text on Audible makes it appear as if "Duel" is part of this collection, and it's not. "Duel" was a major reason I bought the book and to not have it a part of the collection was very disappointing. That said, the book is still worth the money.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Andrewu Th
    newmarket, Ontario, Canada
    06/11/09
    Overall
    "Short and Terryfying"

    I listened to this book mostly at work and on the bus and it kept me constantly entertained. The stories here are all by Matheson [the man behind I Am Legend] so they are well written and the narration is fantastic, emotive, and captivating. The stories range in length and scope covering most of the realms of horror. From ghosts to monsters within and without all fans of horror will find something to satisfy their most carnal cravings here! As an added bonus each of Matheson's tales can be enjoyed on many levels, each one with its own messages about life, humanity, and society.

    If you want entertaining classic horror fiction that is well written, well read, and engrossing pick this book up!

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Evans
    Richmond, VA, United States
    14/09/11
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great stories, not so much for the readers"

    I'm about 3 hours into the book, and, while I adore Richard Matheson stories, I'm not thrilled with some of the choice of readers. I find Yuri Rasovsky particularly hard to listen to. Might be different if this were a dramatization, but as a reader he's distracting.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Regina
    King of Prussia, PA, USA
    18/11/09
    Overall
    "Horror from the 1950's & 60's"

    I had not heard of Richard Matheson, though I remember the lead story, "Nightmare..." The stories in the collection range from psychologically bizarre (examination of the effects of rage) to avant-garde sexuality for that time. Each story is read by one person, without a lot of characterization. Not as action-packed and extreme as today's fare, but solidly entertaining.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • jacques
    otterburn park, QC, Canada
    23/03/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Some good, some bad."
    Any additional comments?

    There was a number of really good stories in here, some a bit dated but still very good.
    Some were not so good. The stories which concern one man's descent into madness, usually written in the first person, and ending with the reader wondering wether the events described had actually taken place, or were in the narrator's mind. Kind of like ending a story with '' It was all just a dream'' I've always thought that stories like that are a bit of a cop out. Still worth the time and the credit.
    There wer a couple of stories i recognized from T.V. and movies. The Gremlin, of course from the twilight zone. The distibutor very likely inspired Stephen King to write Needful things. (one of his best in my opinion) And One year aniversary was used for an episode of The outer limits.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Todd
    Orange, Australia
    19/11/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A great collection. Matheson is a master of horror"

    Firstly, the overall score given to this book is an average of The enjoyment factor found from each individual story.

    I've always wanted to read Matheson's "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet". I enjoyed the story, and although it wasn't spectacular, it was worth the read. A true classic. Having said that, I found that certain stories in this collection were even more enjoyable. I absolutely LOVED "Disappearing Act".

    Some of the stories were just plain terrible to listen to, but I would put that more on the narration then anything else. The narrators for this book mostly did a very good job. I loved Jay Carnes in particular. But I found Yuri Rasovsky frustratingly annoying. His narration of "Dress of White Silk" was terrible. If you're going to have someone narrate a story from a child's POV in a child's voice, particularly if the child is a girl, don't get a guy who sounds like he is talking through a mouthful of porridge.

    This book is well worth the price of the credit I spent. Before Stephen King, there was Matheson. A master of the genre, these stories shouldn't be missed.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • John
    SAINT PAUL, MN, United States
    30/10/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Awesome"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    It was better than I imagined.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Nightmare at 20,000 Feet?

    When he first seen the creature.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    Danada


    If you could rename Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, what would you call it?

    The not so friendly sky's of TWA


    Any additional comments?

    It was a story only Mister Matheson could write.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • William Ekhardt
    Gamaliel, KY
    02/07/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "dark fantasy, but some of the stories are recycled"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I would rerecord any narrations by Yuri Rasovsky. Many of the stories were recycled from the short stories in the I Am Leged collection.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    The stories were so dark, I have listened to many Richard Matheson Stories, but these are easily the darkest and angriest


    What three words best describe the narrators???s voice?

    spitty slobbery gross


    Was Nightmare at 20,000 Feet worth the listening time?

    not really


    Any additional comments?

    I love Richard Matheson's writing, but this compilation just seemed lazy.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Nelson
    Saint Paul, MN, United States
    17/09/11
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "These stories will haunt me for a long time."

    Matheson has the power to construct a plausible reality, set up our expectations, and then put the pedal to the metal and run us down. We are caught in the headlights, unnerved and frozen, until the inevitable strikes, and we've been dragged a quarter mile down the road. Then he turns around for another pass. The most memorable stories: the one about the guy who gets angry all the time; the one about the bed-ridden lady (excellent reader!); and the one about the new guy in the neighborhood.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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