The Twilight Zone: The hazy divide between reality and the supernatural?

Stories from the Twilight Zone
By Rod Serling
Bantam Pathfinder, 1970 (22nd printing), 151 pp.

3 Stars

The Twilight Zone was a successful television series, which ran five seasons on CBS from 1959 to 1964. Rod Serling (many mistakenly thought his name was “Sterling”) served as executive producer and head writer. The stories always involved some type of bizarre supernatural circumstance that put the characters in a tense quandary. I remember watching the show as a young child and being creeped out and fascinated at the same time. Sixty-years later, Twilight Zone reruns still play on cable television and via streaming.

I bought and read this book as a thirteen-year-old and recently purchased a slightly dog-eared used copy from an Amazon third-party used bookseller as a lark. It presents five Twilight Zone episodes from the early years of the show in short-story format:

  • The Mighty Casey – A robot pitcher turns the cellar-dwelling Brooklyn Dodgers into a contender.
  • Escape Clause – Hypochondriac, Walter Bedeker, makes a deal with the devil to gain near-immortality, but immediately regrets it.
  • Walking Distance – A stressed-out, Madison Avenue advertising executive travels back in time to his idyllic childhood hometown, but gradually realizes you can’t go home again.
  • The Fever – A male version of the “uptight church lady” catches gambling fever in Las Vegas and becomes completely unhinged.
  • Where Is Everybody? – An Air Force sergeant is part of an isolation experiment and nearly loses his mind, or were his “imagined” experiences real?
  • The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street – Neighbors suspect an alien invasion and gradually succumb to paranoia, turning against each other.

Science fiction was at its peak in the early-1960s. People were trying to make sense of life in a culture where technology was rapidly advancing. It was all part of an empty search for “spiritual meaning” outside of God’s Word and Jesus Christ. People are still fascinated with the “paranormal” and “supernatural,” but scoff at true spirituality in Christ. The search for genuine spirituality begins with trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. The closer a Christian walks with the Lord, the more the spiritual/eternal overtakes the natural/temporal.

The Twilight Zone joins my small collection of books that sat on my bookshelf when I was a kid in 1970: CIA – The Inside Story, Bump and Run (San Diego Chargers football), The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (fiction), Arundel and Rabble in Arms (both Am Rev historical fiction), Uncle Tom’s Cabin (my grandfather’s copy), First NFL-AFL Illustrated Digest, We Came of Age (AFL football), and The Other League (AFL football).

12 thoughts on “The Twilight Zone: The hazy divide between reality and the supernatural?

  1. Wow never knew they had written a short story format trade paperback! This must be memory lane; as a kid I was freaked out and weirded out by the Twilight Zone; the most scariest episode though is the one where a guy who loves to read and work in the bank survives a nuclear war and is happy to be able to read all the time…but then breaks his glasses! Did you see that episode?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup, I do remember that particular episode! The character was played by Burgess Meredith who went on the portray Penguin in the Batman TV series. I think my most memorable Twilight Zone episode featured William Shatner as a passenger on an airplane as a creature began ripping apart one of the engines mid-flight. That one really spooked me as a young kid.

      Liked by 1 person

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