Hit me with your best (Stephen King-esque) shorts!
August 1, 2020 10:33 AM   Subscribe

Hi all. Due to pandemic-related reasons, I have exhausted my usual go-to short story collections. I have now read all of Stephen King's short story collections (and novels) and all the short stories of Agatha Christie(lots!), Dorothy L. Sayers, Roald Dahl, Ruth Rendell, Shirley Jackson, Sherlock Holmes, P.D James, and Phllip K. Dick. Where do I go from here?

I do also read a lot of more literary fiction, but at the moment I am specifically looking for recomendations of short stories (and ideally either compilations or compendiums) that are maybe more crime, horror, or sci fi/spec (veering towards sci fi end, rather than fantasy).

I've really enjoyed a lot of the 'mammoth books of' collections - including best scifi for the last few years, best alternative histories, best horror, best mysteries, best first contact stories. Any of those or similar I might have missed? I've read Kirsty Logan's 'Things we say in the dark', which was AMAZING.

I am really looking for relatively easy reading, ideally with diverse voices. What's new? Who have I missed?

Generally, I've already read most of the older, well-known collections of sci fi and horror like Poe and the 'scary stories' series. During these difficult time, I've really enjoyed reading all of Stephen King's short stories, despite their flaws, so any suggestions along those lines are very welcome. I am really only interested in fiction short stories/collections of short stories, and not novels. Many thanks in advance.
posted by sedimentary_deer to Media & Arts (26 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Recent speculative fiction short story collections I've enjoyed (links all to GoodReads):

How Long til Black Future Month by N.K. Jemisin

A People's Future of the United States anthology

The Mythic Dream anthology
posted by the primroses were over at 10:43 AM on August 1 [4 favorites]

I've been reading a lot of short stories this year too. Have you read much of Ray Bradbury? He wrote (on average) a story a week, for more than 70 years... more than 3500 stories, many of them in that scifi/spec vein. Here about 100 of them.
posted by MinPin at 11:00 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]

He’s recommended here fairly frequently but just in case Ted Chiang has two excellent science fiction short story collections; Stories of Your Life and Exhalation. The stories are clever and I’d say easy to read.
posted by lepus at 11:04 AM on August 1 [6 favorites]

Have you read any books by Joe Hill, Stephen King's son? If you're on a short fiction kick, 20th Century Ghosts is pretty damn fantastic. (I haven't checked out Full Throttle yet, but it seems to have good reviews.)
posted by xenization at 11:16 AM on August 1 [3 favorites]

Ray Bradbury's October Country is the most horror-centric of his short story collections and my favorite.

Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont wrote many of the original Twilight Zone episodes and their stories hold up.

I loved Emily Mitchell's Viral, which is more weird fiction than horror - the stories take place in approximately our ordinary universe but something is off in each one. In a similar off-kilter vein: Tessa Hadley's Bad Dreams and Helen Ellis's American Housewife.

Paul Tremblay gets a lot of rave reviews.

Dan Chaon writes horror and weird fiction that is bleak af, my tolerance for that is pretty high but I could not handle the level of despair his stories induced in me especially in these times. I can't deny he writes very well, though, so recommended with reservations.

+1 to Ted Chiang, but I say that in every book thread. "The Lifecycle of Software Objects" pretends to be about tech but is actually the most poignant story about parenting and letting go that I've read in ages.

Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom, just because everyone here needs to know A NEW WAYSIDE SCHOOL BOOK CAME OUT THIS YEAR OMG! And it's just as good as the others.
posted by Flannery Culp at 11:16 AM on August 1 [4 favorites]

Try Karen Russell’s short story collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove. Deeply unsettling, well written.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:17 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]

I'd highly recommend the Big Book of Science Fiction, edited by the Vandermeers. The included works are by a diverse group of authors, so while there's some classic American sci fi stories, they really run the gamut. Some excellent stuff in there!
posted by DTMFA at 11:46 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]

Clive Barker has some good horror/fantasy-- I remember enjoying "the thief of always" and "the great and secret show." Looks like he has short story collections called "the book of blood."

There's also a Dean Koontz collection called "strange highways" that I remember enjoying.
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 12:06 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]

Alice Munro.
Neil Gaiman -Trigger Warning.
posted by evilmomlady at 12:31 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]

The New Voices of Science Fiction anthology, if you haven't already seen it - I read every story all the way through, which doesn't usually happen.
posted by adventitious at 12:41 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]

Seconding Richard Matheson, Ted Chiang, and N.K. Jemisin's short story collections.
posted by subocoyne at 1:41 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]

Harlan Ellison wrote mostly short stories (excluding tv scripts and such). If you have not already read them, they probably fit the bill.
posted by metadave at 2:04 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]

M.R. James wrote a ton of classic ghost/creepy stories. There’s also Chesterton, if you haven’t already read Father Brown. Some of them are too Catholic, but many are good, and it’s in the Sayers/Christie mystery family.
posted by sumiami at 4:23 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]

Recently read the Paperbacks from Hell reissue of Lisa Tuttle's Nest of Nightmares, and thought it was fantastic.

If you haven't read it, the Ellen Datlow collection of the Best of the Best Horror of the Year is a beast, but very fun.
posted by MeadowlarkMaude at 4:24 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]

Thirding or Fourthing Ted Chiang. Literary fiction, not sci-fi, but I would also recommend any of the collections by Lee K. Abbott, especially Strangers In Paradise. I first read that collection of stories when it came out some 30 years ago and I've read it many times since. It's a book that has really stuck with me. Cannot recommend highly enough.
posted by SonInLawOfSam at 4:41 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]

Harlan Ellison - Deathbird Stories is a good starting spot.
The Best American Mystery Stories is an annual collection that's often quite good.
How about some Father Brown stories by G.K. Chesterton? Literary mystery from around the same era as Conan Doyle. Here's a quote from one of the stories, "The Blue Cross" where Father Brown makes his debut: "He remembered how Flambeau had escaped, once by a pair of nail scissors, and once by a house on fire; once by having to pay for an unstamped letter, and once by getting people to look through a telescope at a comet that might destroy the world." Irresistible :)
posted by storybored at 7:49 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]

Have you read the classic Dangerous Visions collections that essentially kicked off the New Wave of the early 1970s? The first is supposed to be better than the second.
posted by lhauser at 9:42 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]

Joe Hill?
posted by stormyteal at 11:59 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]

These are all great, thanks!
posted by sedimentary_deer at 5:12 AM on August 2

I'm just recommending this all over Ask today: Meanwhile, Elsewhere.

I would also look into Kelly Link and Elizabeth Hand, and maybe take a gander through Small Beer Press's recent publications.
posted by dizziest at 8:57 AM on August 2 [2 favorites]

Uncommon Assassins. Not by one author, but a fantastic collection of killers and unusual circumstances. I loved this book.
posted by annieb at 2:23 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]

You might give Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah's Friday Black a shot
posted by thivaia at 5:58 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]

Oh and technically they are novellas, but the tales in Rim of Morning got me good and creeped out.
posted by thivaia at 6:01 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]

I have very similar "comfort reading" tastes, and a newer one that has ended up on my repeat-read list is Nathan Ballingrud's North American Lake Monsters

And while you're over there, try some Kelly Link!
posted by cocotine at 4:14 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]

Well, instead of "who's new" - I'm going to give you one of my favorite oldies but goodies -
The John Collier Reader was published in 1972 and is a compendium of a lot of his creepy stories from The New Yorker, as well as some (at the time) newly published works.
posted by librarianamy at 4:53 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]

Folks, these are great - especially as it's rainy and horrible and I'm supposed to be taking annual leave. I haven't favourited a single answer as they are all good, but I can confirm that I creeped myself out enough reading the merry-go-round story in Joe Hill's Full Throttle, that I had to read a bit of Terry Pratchett to get to sleep!

Lisa Tuttle, Ted Chiang and Kelly Link are all favourites but thread has been great for rooting out lost collections or, at least, those I didn't know about.
posted by sedimentary_deer at 2:02 AM on August 4

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