Skeleton Crew (1985) is the second published anthology of short stories by Stephen King. The first collection, Night Shift was published seven years prior in 1978. Different Seasons, a collection of four novellas, was published between the two in 1982. Skeleton Crew was originally published in hardback form by Putnam (512 pages). It has been reprinted multiple times in the years since in both hardback and paperback forms. A limited edition of 1,000 copies was published by Scream Press in 1986 featuring illustrations by J.K. Potter.
In addition to the introduction, in which King directly addresses his readers in his signature conversational style, Skeleton Crew features an epilogue of sorts entitled "Notes" wherein King discusses the origins of several stories in the collection.
The stories are collected from science-fiction and horror anthologies (Dark Forces, Shadows, Terrors, and New Terrors) genre magazine publications (Twilight Zone, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Startling Mystery Stories, Weirdbook and Fantasy and Science Fiction) and popular magazines (Redbook, Gallery, Yankee and Playboy).
Although published in 1985, the stories collected in Skeleton Crew span seventeen years from "Mrs. Todd's Shortcut " (King's second professional sale when he was just eighteen years old)[#endnote_intro] [#endnote_Collings] to "The Ballad of The Flexible Bullet" which was completed in 1983[#endnote_intro].
Skeleton Crew is critically held as showing King as a maturing writer [#endnote_Beahm] with greater breadth and depth than his previous short works [#endnote_Collings].
The collection also features some more personal works, including "For Owen" the poem he wrote for his son, and "Gramma" a horrific tale from an eleven-year old boy's perspective that seems to recall King's own horrors living with his invalid grandmother [#endnote_essential].
Of one of the stories in the collection, King says: "As far as short stories are concerned, I like the grisly ones the best. However the story "Survivor Type" goes a little bit too far, even for me." [#endnote_kinggrant]
|Title||Originally published in|
|"The Mist"||Dark Forces anthology (1980)|
|"Here There Be Tygers"||Spring 1968 issue of Ubris|
|"The Monkey"||November 1980 issue of Gallery|
|"Cain Rose Up"||Spring 1968 issue of Ubris|
|"Mrs. Todd's Shortcut"||May 1984 issue of Redbook|
|"The Jaunt"||June 1981 issue of The Twilight Zone Magazine|
|"The Wedding Gig"||December 1980 issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine|
|"Paranoid: A Chant"||Previously unpublished|
|"The Raft"||November 1982 issue of Gallery|
|"Word Processor of the Gods"||January 1983 issue of Playboy|
|"The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands"||Shadows 4 anthology (1981)|
|"Beachworld"||Fall 1984 issue of Weird Tales|
|"The Reaper's Image"||Spring 1969 issue of Startling Mystery Stories|
|"Nona"||Shadows anthology (1978)|
|"For Owen"||Previously unpublished|
|"Survivor Type"||Terrors anthology (1982)|
|"Uncle Otto's Truck"||October 1983 issue of Yankee|
|"Morning Deliveries (Milkman #1)"||Previously unpublished|
|"Big Wheels: A Tale of The Laundry Game (Milkman #2)"||New Terrors anthology (1980)|
|"Gramma"||Spring 1984 issue of Weirdbook|
|"The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet"||June 1984 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction|
|"The Reach"||November 1981 issue of Yankee|
"Word Processor of the Gods" (1984 Laurel TV, directed by Michael Gornic) was a 22-minute episode of Tales from the Darkside.