Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Serling, Rod

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Working name of US screenwriter, tv producer and author Edward Rodman Serling (1924-1975), best-known for his tv work (from 1952), gaining early fame for Requiem for a Heavyweight (1956); filmed as Requiem for a Heavyweight (1963), and winning six Emmies over his career. His first series was perhaps his finest: The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) anthology series, which gained three Hugo Awards (1960-1962), deftly dramatized sf/fantasy scripts, often in a Slick-Fantasy mode, by RS and from contributors like Charles Beaumont, Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson. RS also hosted the show (a practice then common on US anthology series), and his lean and hungry telegenic mien soon became iconic. He was an emcee of the Uncanny, and of Thresholds. A second series, Rod Serling's Night Gallery (1970-1973) was less successful.

RS was not a major writer of printed fiction. The Season to be Wary (coll 1967), his only collection of independent stories, is not strong. His adaptations of scripts written for his two series are stronger, though he made little attempt to translate them into autonomous prose fictions. Twilight Zone work is assembled in Stories from The Twilight Zone * (coll 1960), More Stories from The Twilight Zone * (coll 1961), New Stories from The Twilight Zone * (coll 1962), the latter two apparently ghostwritten by Walter B Gibson (1897-1985) from RS scripts – selections from all three were assembled as From The Twilight Zone * (coll 1962), and all three in their entirety as Stories from The Twilight Zone * (omni 1986). Stories from the Twilight Zone * (graph coll 1979) is a Comics version of the material. Gibson definitely ghostwrote two further collections: Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone * (coll 1963) and Rod Serling's Twilight Zone Revisited * (coll 1964), both assembled as Rod Serling's Twilight Zone * (omni 1984). The Night Gallery work appears in Night Gallery * (coll 1971) and Night Gallery 2 * (coll 1972).

RS's widow, Carol Serling (1929-    ), has edited three further spinoffs: Rod Serling's Night Gallery Reader * (anth 1987) with Martin H Greenberg and Charles G Waugh (1943-    ), Return to the Twilight Zone (anth 1994) with Greenberg and Adventures in the Twilight Zone (anth 1995). She also served as a founding consultant for Rod Serling's the Twilight Zone Magazine (1981-1989).

Other movie work of fantasy interest includes the "United Nations Special" A Carol for Another Christmas (1964) and Rod Serling's Lost Classics (1994 tvm), featuring a screenplay by RS and an RS story adapted by Richard Matheson. One episode of the revived Twilight Zone was based on an RS story, scripted by J Michael Straczynski. [JC]

other works: Patterns: Four Television Plays (coll 1955) and Requiem for a Heavyweight (coll 1962), screenplays; Rod Serling's Triple W: Witches, Warlocks and Werewolves (anth 1963) and Rod Serling's Devils and Demons (anth 1967), both ghost-edited by Gordon R Dickson; Rod Serling's Other Worlds (anth 1978), which may also have been ghost-edited. further reading: The Twilight Zone Companion (1986) by Marc Scott Zicree; Rod Serling: The Dreams and Nightmares of Life in the Twilight Zone (1989) by Joel Engel; Serling: The Rise and Twilight of Television's Last Angry Man (1992) by Gordon F Sander; Into the Twilight Zone: The Rod Serling Programme Guide (1995) by Jean-Marc and Randy Lofficier.

see also: The New Twilight Zone (1985-1988).


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.