Looking for a Sci-fi short story that I read once and would like to find again?

It was about a spaceship where the captain is unusually polite in his verbal commands to the ship's AI, always saying "please" and "thank you." The crew records the captain's voice saying the codes to control the ship, then mutiny and kill him, and only find out after he's dead that the "please" and "thank you" were also part of the command codes. Thus they are doomed to drift in space in a ship they can't control.

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    Welcome to SFF.SE! You may want to look at How to ask a good story-ID question?, to see if it helps you think of more information you can edit into your question. For instance - do you remember when you read the story? Was it in a magazine, a book, or on-line? If part of a collection, was it a collection of one author's stories, or many? The more info you provide, the more likely someone will be able to help you!
    – RDFozz
    Commented Jul 19, 2018 at 15:06
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    Now answered here. Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 11:51
  • @JohnRennie Might be worth posting that answer here too, so that both the OPs can confirm independently. Just for the sake of policy, even though it's clearly the same story.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 12:59
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    Possible duplicate of Short story about a mutiny on a spaceship and a polite captain Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 13:10
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    @Vanguard3000 No accepted answer here and so not a dupe.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 13:30

1 Answer 1


This question was reposted in Short story about a mutiny on a spaceship and a polite captain. I answered it there, but for the record I'll post here as well then we can delete one of the answers if/when one of the questions is closed as a duplicate.

Anyhow the story is Mutiny by Malcolm Hulke and it has appeared only in two little known anthologies Galactic Adventures and Purnell's Book of Adventures in Space (the latter has been mentioned in Who wrote "The Monsters" short story published by Purnell?. They are the same book, but released under two different titles).

The only trace I can find of the story in the Google Books page on Galactic Adventures, though that page is only partially complete. Only fragmentary extracts of the book text are available from Google Books, but the few extracts available make it fairly clear this is the story in question. For example here we find:

... computer only followed instructions that began with the captain's voice saying please. That's why he was always polite to the computer. And we just erased all his voice-prints from the tape. He's fooled us.

  • Delete one of the answers :/ Then we'll have to reopen because the accept will be gone. Better just leave both and revel in the rep bonus from your hard work.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 15:00

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