Let me start by saying I wanted Night Shift to be something other than what it turned out to be. Let’s face it—a mining base in the Antarctic at the start of a six-month-long night shift, doesn’t your mind immediately turn to The Thing? So, I’m expecting a monster. Oh, I got one, it just happened to be of the human variety.
Night Shift and the Nature of Fear
Let’s talk about fear. We won’t raise our voices and we won’t scream; we’ll talk rationally, you and I. We’ll talk about the way the good fabric of things sometimes has a way of unraveling with shocking suddenness. – Stephen King, Introduction to Night Shift
I finished reading Stephen King’s first collection of short stories, 1978’s Night Shift, a few months back, but have avoided writing down any thoughts on it.
No one wants to expound on a subject of which they feel they have little to contribute, and for me everything that needs to be said about Night Shift was said perfectly by Stephen King in his introduction to the book. In fact, it may be one of the most perfect pieces King has written, if not certainly the most perfect he had written in 1978.
King’s opening act serves as an essay on the nature of fear: why he writes horror, and why people read it. I found myself not only more mesmerized, but more haunted by this than any of the tales in King’s gruesome set list.