The Incredible Shrinking Man
By Richard Matheson; Read by Yuri Rasovsky
1 MP3 disc, 7 CDs, 6 cassettes – 8 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
ISBN: 0786178515(MP3), 0786175761(CD), 0786137924 (cassettes)
Themes: / Science Fiction / Atomic Radiation / Illness / Transcendence / Miniaturization / Horror
Scott Carey is a man suffering from a freak accident during which he was exposed to radiation dust and pesticides. He begins to slowly shrink. He finds not only the physical challenges of getting smaller but the social as well. In fact it is in this social arena where must of the intensity of the book comes from.
Scott Carey has a good life with his beautiful wife, Lou. When he begins to shrink tension between him and his wife grows, and their relationship begins to change. Although we feel sympathy for Scott’s plight, we don’t necessarily like him. He’s one pissed-off little guy. Ultimately this is a story of impotence. Not just sexually but for all aspects of his life. He can no longer satisfy his wife sexually (even though he still has his sex drive). He cannot meet his family’s economic needs except by selling his story to tabloid-styled newspapers. And he has a daughter that he has to fear because she may crush him just by playing with him.
Yuri Rasovsky does a great job on the audiobook. In an early dialogue scene with Scott and his wife Lou, the character voices sounded very much the same. My first response was that Yuri didn’t differentiate between characters much. On second reflection, I realized this was intentional. Later in the book as Scott is shrinking, he begins to sound like a little boy when talking with his wife. This helps create the vulnerable and impotent stature of Scott, making him less of a man. It was no accident that Matheson used “Lou” as a nickname for Scott’s wife, Louise. It demeans Scott’s masculinity even more.
Richard Matheson is a wonderfully expressive author, drawing emotion out with every turn. Granted, they are mostly dark emotions.
Matheson also adapted this novel to a screenplay for the classic movie. I watched the movie right after finishing the audiobook to see how a master adapts his own work to screen. It’s an experience I strongly recommend. Some of the most powerful scenes in the book do not make it into the movie. There’s a gang of youths that beat Scott. There’s the drunken child molester that picks up Scott hitchhiking and mistakes him for a boy.
And there are scenes that work better in the movie than in the book. These are the action scenes when Scott is fighting cats and spiders. Those scenes in the book become tedious because they take so long to explain.
But the book surpasses the movie again with an ending that is more poignantly transcendent.