I read this short story in the 1960s but it probably dates from the 1950s. American or British author.

For reasons I can't recall a maniac gains control of a space ship's control room and kills the entire crew. The only deaths I can remember are two crewmen who try to gain access to the control room by climbing between the ship's double hull; the maniac finds a way to compress the two hulls, crushing them to death. After having killed everyone the maniac congratulates himself, unaware that the last of the ship's oxygen has just run out.

Further details:

  • I'm sure I read it in a hardback anthology and not a magazine.
  • The killer was human and I believe the ship was a civilian vessel.
  • I'm pretty sure it was an American hardback.
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    Could you add any more details you may remember? – Adamant May 30 '16 at 5:14
  • What makes you think it was from the 50s? Style? Cultural references? Level of technology? – user14111 May 30 '16 at 5:31
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    I would like to read this. – Organic Marble May 30 '16 at 16:42
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    It was mood and atmosphere, very creepy and violent. I read this in junior high - I had been reading SF since I was eleven but I had never come across a story like this one. – Lee Eckhardt May 30 '16 at 21:59
  • Silent Running was novelized by SBS in 1972. – Spencer Feb 2 at 0:36

I believe that you are looking for Destination: Void (1965), by Frank Herbert.

In the future, mankind has tried to develop artificial intelligence, succeeding only once, and then disastrously. A transmission from the project site on an island in the Puget Sound, "rogue consciousness!", was followed by slaughter and destruction, culminating in the island vanishing from the face of the earth.

The current project is being run on the moon, and the book tells the story of the seventh attempt in a series of experiments to create artificial consciousness. For each attempt, the scientists raise a group of clones. These clones are kept isolated and raised to believe that they will be the crew of a spaceship that will colonize a planet in the Tau Ceti solar system (Tau Ceti has no habitable planet; its choice—should they manage to reach it—is part of the planned frustration of the crew). The spaceship will take hundreds of years to reach the system and the crew will spend most of their time in hibernation. Along with the crew of six, the ship carries thousands of other clones in hibernation, intended to populate the new colony and, if necessary, provide replacements for any crew members who die along the way.

The crew are just caretakers: the ship is controlled by a disembodied human brain, called "Organic Mental Core" or "OMC", that runs the complex operations of the vessel and keeps it moving in space. But the first two OMCs (Myrtle and Little Joe) become catatonic, while the third OMC goes insane and kills two of the umbilicus crew members. The crew is left with only one choice: to build an artificial consciousness that will enable the ship to continue. The crew knows that if they attempt to turn back they will be ordered to abort (self-destruct).

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. It appears that you have cut-and-pasted in the plot summary from the Destination: Void page on Wikipedia, and you haven't made any effort to actually tie this to any of the details in the question. The point of a story-id answer is to show how the story you are suggesting matches the question. – DavidW Feb 3 at 4:22
  • @DavidW There's a spaceship in the story, so that part matches. But plagiarism is unacceptable. – user14111 Feb 3 at 4:51
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    I've edited this to provide attribution to the source of the quote and to indicate what is the quote and what isn't. Please do so yourself in the future. – TheLethalCarrot Feb 3 at 16:42
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    I checked this story and it is not the one I am looking for. The villain was definitely a human being. – Lee Eckhardt Feb 3 at 19:25
  • Sorry about that. I really did try to put a link to the wiki that way but I couldn't quite figure out how to do so. – AhhGeezRick Feb 5 at 16:40

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