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I Am Legend (1954)

BIOTERRORBIBLE.COM: Starting in 1939, there have been 21 books, both fiction and non-fiction, dealing with the topics of bio-terror and pandemics. Although these books have been sporadic over the last 50+ years, they have intensified over the last 10.

I Am Legend
Date: 2012
Source: Wikipedia

Abstract: I Am Legend is a 1954 horror fiction novel by American writer Richard Matheson. It was influential in the development of the zombie genre and in popularizing the concept of a worldwide apocalypse due to disease. The novel was a success and was adapted to film as The Last Man on Earth in 1964, as The Omega Man in 1971, and as I Am Legend in 2007, along with a direct to video 2007 production capitalizing on that film, I Am Omega. The novel was also the inspiration behind the 1968 film Night of the Living Dead.


The main character is Robert Neville, apparently the sole survivor of a pandemic whose symptoms resemble vampirism. The narrative details Neville's daily life in Los Angeles as he attempts to comprehend, research, and possibly cure the disease, to which he is immune. Neville's past is revealed through flashbacks.

After bouts of depression and alcoholism, Neville obtains books and other research materials from a library, and through painstaking research discovers the root of the vampiric disease in a strain of bacteria capable of infecting both deceased and living hosts.

After three years, Neville sees an apparently uninfected woman, Ruth, abroad in the daylight, and captures her. Having become accustomed to her, Neville becomes suspicious of Ruth and notices that she is upset when he speaks of killing vampires, on grounds that if her story of survival was true, she would have become hardened to the act. One night Neville is startled awake and finds Ruth about to leave. Suspicious, he questions her motives, but relates the trauma of his past, whereupon they comfort each other. Ruth reluctantly allows him a blood sample but knocks him senseless when he realizes she is infected. When he wakes, Neville discovers a note stating that the infected have slowly overcome their disease until they can spend short periods of time in sunlight and are attempting to rebuild society; but fear and hate Neville who has destroyed some of their people along with the true vampires (dead bodies animated by the germ) during his daytime excursions against the latter. Ruth warns Neville that her people will attempt to capture him, and that he should leave his house and escape; but Neville disregards Ruth's warning and is captured.

Neville wakes in a prison where he is visited by Ruth, who informs him that she is a ranking member of the new society but, unlike the others, does not resent him. She acknowledges the need for Neville's execution, and gives him pills, claiming they will "make it easier". Badly injured, Neville accepts his fate and asks Ruth not to let this society become heartless. Ruth kisses him and leaves.

Neville goes to his prison window and sees all the infected waiting for his execution. Judging by their reactions to the sight of him, he comprehends their point of view, having hitherto seen the destruction of the infected survivors as a moral imperative to be pursued for his own and mankind's survival, and realizes that even as vampires were legend in pre-infection times, he, a remnant of old humanity, is legend to the new race born of the infection. He therefore remarks to himself as he dies: "[I am] a new superstition entering the unassailable fortress of forever. I am legend" (Wikipedia, 2012).