Short story collections like Skeleton Crew and Night Shift?
June 30, 2013 2:32 PM   Subscribe

If Stephen King's short story collections Skeleton Crew and Night Shift are my favorite short story collections of all time, what other short story collections might I enjoy?
posted by imabanana to Writing & Language (17 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
They're really far up there for me too, and my other favorite collections ever are Gardner Dozois's Year's Best Science Fiction. There are about thirty volumes of them, and you can't go wrong. He has fairly broad opinions as to what qualifies as science fiction, and tastes very similar to mine as to what makes a good short story. I am not a hard-SF reader much at all, and tend to read more fantasy than science fiction in general, but man, these short stories really are the best. Even if you haven't read a ton of science fiction, give one of those a try.

I also like the Ellen Datlow and (various friends) Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, although since, with the exception of King, I don't really like horror, they're a lot more uneven for me. But they definitely tend to have the same tight exploration of neat ideas/characters/worlds that I really like, and not too much literary faffing about.

If you *do* like horror, China Mieville's Looking for Jake blew me out of my seat. Great writing, great ideas, creeping existential despair. I don't always love Mieville but I loved this.

Beyond that, maybe tell us a little more about stuff you do like? I could probably point you at some other single-author collections but depending on your general tastes they'd be hit or miss.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:45 PM on June 30, 2013

Try getting an HP Lovecraft collection, like this one. These had a significant influence on King.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:51 PM on June 30, 2013

This is going to sound silly, but have you read King's newer short story collections? In particular, Full Dark, No Stars is, to my great surprise, every bit as good as the work from King's classic run in the 70s.
posted by escabeche at 2:53 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are the Books of Blood collections by Clive Barker, who is really the only 'horror' author I've read. Some great short stories.
posted by efalk at 2:57 PM on June 30, 2013

Richard Matheson was a prolific writer of short stories (also novels and screenplays) whom Stephen King often cites as an early influence, so much so that King dedicated a novel to him a few years ago. Matheson writes horror/fantasy/sci-fi, usually in a pithy, approachable, conversational style. There was a great memorial fpp on his life and work recently, which might be a place to start.
posted by Elsa at 3:02 PM on June 30, 2013

Some of Ray Bradbury's stuff leans more towards horror than sci fi. In particular I liked The October Country.
posted by jessamyn at 3:03 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Roald Dahl is commonly known for his children's stories, but his adult short stories are amazing. Very King-like in that they are dark, often with unexpected endings. I recommend The Roald Dahl Omnibus, which contains my favourite short story of his, "Lamb to the Slaughter".
posted by dotgirl at 3:19 PM on June 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

Clive Barker's Books of Blood, esp. Book #4, The Inhuman Condition.
Kathe Koja's Skin. [not always horror, but consistently eerie and awesome]
Theodore Sturgeon's More Than Human. [sci-fi, not horror, but still fits the bill]
The Dark Descent (ed. David G. Hartwell). [horror through the years]
Poe's Children (ed. Peter Straub). [then-new, "alternative" intelligent horror]

The following authors are brilliant, and have been so frequently anthologized that I don't know where to start:

H. P. Lovecraft
Thomas Ligotti
Richard Matheson
Ray Bradbury
Harlan Ellison
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:21 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Going back a bit further, you may enjoy Saki's work (HH Munro). His short stories aren't as viscerally creepy as King's, but they are definitely dark and horror-tinged.
posted by elizardbits at 3:23 PM on June 30, 2013

Michael Marshall Smith! His first short story collection, What You Make It, looks to be out of print, but he has a new one coming out in August, Everything You Need. Some of the earlier short stories are available as Kindle singles. I recommend More Tomorrow and Hell Hath Enlarged Herself.
posted by Flannery Culp at 4:34 PM on June 30, 2013

Yes yes yes to The Books of Blood. I consistently come back to those and enjoy them more and more.

I would also recommend one of Robert Shearman's collections, probably Remember Why You Fear Me. He's kind of obscure, but there are a couple of stories in there that have completely invaded my brain for days at a time. (sorry no link, stupid iPad)
posted by altopower at 4:36 PM on June 30, 2013

Neil Gaiman's adult short stories may be up your alley.

If you're looking for sheer creepiness, and you're up for very old-fashioned prose, you can't beat M. R. James. Also, depending on your taste, you might like Sarah Monette's The Bone Key.
posted by pie ninja at 5:05 PM on June 30, 2013

Look into Hitchcock's anthologies. They're vintage, so they're not frightening by today's standards, but there's no shortage of psychological suspense. There are five numbered anthologies and about a dozen titled anthologies, including 16 Skeletons from My Closet, Stories to Be Read With the Lights on, and Stories for Late at Night. They include stories from some of the greatest early masters of the genre like Robert Bloch, Lawrence Block, Patricia Highsmith, and Robert Arthur. You may not recognize the names, but you'll be surprised at how many modern genre story conventions and tropes they are responsible for bringing into the mainstream.
posted by Pipedreamergrey at 6:14 PM on June 30, 2013

Joe Hill's "20th Century Ghosts" was good, and reminiscent at times of his father's work.
posted by bashos_frog at 8:22 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

All these suggestions are fantastic! You may also like The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer.
posted by partly squamous and partly rugose at 6:13 AM on July 1, 2013

The Arbor House Treasury of Horror and the Supernatural, if you can find a copy.
posted by Addlepated at 8:23 PM on July 1, 2013

Stephen King has stated he was strongly influenced by Shirley Jackson; The Lottery would be a good collection to start with. Also, if you can find a copy of her not-oft-anthologized story "The Summer People," it has a perfect creeping sense of dread that is rather King-ish.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:17 AM on July 4, 2013

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