It was in a collection of short stories by different authors, which I read in the mid 80's.

The crew of the ship keep complaining about how the Captain is rude to them and the only 'person' he says 'please' and 'thank you' to is the ship's computer.

Eventually they decide on mutiny and murder the Captain after forcing him to make recordings of the voice commands necessary to steer the ship. It is not until after they kill the Captain, that they realise the commands he recorded lacked the 'please' and 'thank you', which were crucial to make them work.

Thus the crew of the ship drift through space contemplating the irony.

  • 1
    Possibly something here will jog your memory (under the literature tab) Sapient Ships - TVTropes (Standard TVTropes warning)
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 9:08
  • I've identified the story so I guess we should close one of the two questions as a duplicate since the OP explicitly states this is a duplicate. I guess I should probably have answered the original question then closed this one. Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 11:36
  • Asked here a month ago by @neith-little, but no answers there, so if this answer gets Accepted then we should dupe 191332 to this one.
    – gowenfawr
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 14:09

1 Answer 1


I'm 99% certain I've found this, but oh my goodness it's an obscure one. 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.


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