Skeleton Crew

Having skeletons be the crew of, rowers of, or passengers on, a ship is fairly commonly used in legend and module alike. It might even show up in a Conan novel or two: I know that a giant centipede was used to row a galley in a Leonard Carpenter tale, so why not a skeleton at the helm?

But the other meaning of “skeleton crew,” as in the fewest on staff needed to make something work for a temporary amount of time, was not I term I was familiar with. That is, until I encountered the Stephen King collection of the same name at the age of 14 or 15. It was probably the first short story collection that I can remember reading as a collection: I mean, I didn’t get until much later that de Camp’s Conan is actually multiple stories. I guess you could say that even then, I was not into close textual analysis.

Anywhoo, Skeleton Crew has a great cover, The Mist, “Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut,” which was perfect for Maine backroads, and a bunch of other scary ones. And it taught me a phrase, so for that, among other things, I thank you, Mr. King.

I know that “Apt Pupil” is from a different collection, but the song also is apt to the theme.

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