IIRC, it seems to be a tale of a cabin boy aboard a spaceship (and I read that it was based on a very old dirty joke although there was no actual dirty joke aspect to this story itself). The final line implied that rather than the ship being a ship and the cabin boy a cabin boy the ship was a space-living life form and the cabin boy one of its larvae. I am looking for title.

Probably a "golden age" story like from 1940s, certainly no later than 1970.

  • 4
    The "joke" actually relates to an old dirty ditty called "Good Ship Venus". I throw this out there in case the Venus angle has any relevance to the story being searched for. May 3, 2021 at 19:17
  • @EmsleyWyatt:: yes, the lyric is sort of a pun. i like the story much more than the ditty.
    – releseabe
    May 3, 2021 at 19:23
  • I looked up the lyrics to "The Good Ship Venus" (on my phone, not my work PC - yikes, that's pretty NSFW). I learned the core of that song as "The North Atlantic Squadron" way back when (the 1970s). Some of the lyrics overlap, some don't. The cabin boy stanza is exactly what I remember (except for one word). As far as I know, it dated to the convoys crossing between Halifax and the UK during WWII. I also expect that the song predates that - in the version I know, there's at least one reference to a ship under sail.
    – Flydog57
    May 4, 2021 at 22:57

1 Answer 1


It's the 1951 story Cabin Boy by Damon Knight.

It ends

In effect, Tommy had circumnavigated the skipper.

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    Adapted into a fine film starring chris elliot whom i waited for a tailor to finish up with at Barney's in Manhattan decades ago. I was going to ask him how much to tip tailors but I did not.
    – releseabe
    May 3, 2021 at 19:35
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    I don't think that's an adaptation?
    – FuzzyBoots
    May 3, 2021 at 20:10
  • The Chris Elliot movie doesn't have any reference to the 1951 story, I'm guessing similarities are just coincidence. That movie is awesome, "These pipes are clean!" May 4, 2021 at 17:21
  • @FuzzyBoots: maybe not intentionally. and the tailor part is important, high point of my life (or anyone's, i would guess). I can't believe I had to wear a suit almost every day.
    – releseabe
    May 4, 2021 at 18:02
  • It sounds more like a "comedy" version of Captains Courageous May 4, 2021 at 18:04

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