10 September 2009

Suggested Reading: "Allamagoosa" by Eric Frank Russell

Free Speculative Fiction short stories online.

Read it here: "Allamagoosa"
By Eric Frank Russell
In SciFi.com
Genre: SF

Apparently I have been remiss in not being more familiar with the works of Eric Frank Russell. He published a bunch of novels, mainly during the 1950's, which was one of SF's golden ages. So if you are not familiar with his works, where would you start? If you're me, you start with something available free online. Then, when you find that one of these stories is an award winner, it seems like a good choice.

"Allamagoosa" won the Hugo for best SF short story in 1955, and now it has its own entry in Wikipedia.

As a story, "Allamagoosa" feels very much like a humorous WWII naval story. It is set in space, aboard a spaceship that has come into spaceport after a difficult journey. Then the captain learns that the ship is going to be inspected by an Admiral. He's got three days to make the ship look as if it has never known difficulty, to get it painted like new, and to make sure that every item listed
in the ship's file is present in the correct numbers. No less, and certainly no more.

However, there is something missing in the galley. Something called an 'offog'. No one has ever heard of it. No one remembers ever hearing of it. Yet it must have been there when it was signed for and it had better be there when the Admiral comes to inspect it.

Very young readers might have to keep in mind that this tale was written before the copy and pasting days of computers.

As for what an allamagoosa is, well, that's the whole point.

Morva Shepley

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