Born of Man and Woman is not a pleasant story, as it depicts a child born a hideous monster in our eyes, kept chained in the cellar by his parents, where he is beaten and abused regularly. It is, however, a memorable one, written by one of my favorite writers in the short story form, Richard Matheson, who is perhaps more famous for his television work on the Twilight Zone and other famous shows. This is a story I read as a younger teenager— probably 13 or so, and I recall it being in one of those Science Fiction Hall of Fame anthologies edited by Robert Silverberg. It’s one of those stories that sticks with you.. Matheson paints a vivid picture of the unnamed child’s suffering by having him recount events in a broken journal form. At the end of the story, you have to ask yourself who the real monsters are.
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This is a very short story by Richard Matheson, a famous television writer and master of the short story form. Written as a parable about nuclear war (in 1953), it was not received well, and in some jurisdictions people actually wanted it banned. I rather like the darkly ironic tone and imagery of this short-short piece. I have always read it very differently from the author’s intent, and took the allegory as representing the madness of popular culture. Go figure!