Short Reviews – Mutiny, Larry Offenbecker

Mutiny by Larry Offenbecker appeared in then Fall 1945 issue of Planet Stories. 

Exactly what it says on the tin, Mutiny is a story about a space-ship captain who is confronted with a mutiny while en route to deliver important medical supplies to Jupiter.

A young officer has been given his first command, and the first officer is resentful. First Officer’s old captain sailed the stars by instinct, while this new guy talks about how math and science are crucial to space navigation. He also thinks he should be captain because he’s been sailing the space ways much longer than this new guy.

Well, the first mate takes over, gets the ship damaged in a space storm, has to set down on a planet where the ship eventually starts sinking into quicksand. The captain’s quick thinking and sciency know-how is able to get them out of the jam. Luckily in the sci-fi navy, mutineers aren’t shot, hanged or marooned, so they’re all able to have a good laugh about it afterward, with the first officer declaring the hero to be the best darn tootin’est captain ever.

This one was pretty cheesy, but it did have one really cool scene: when the captain is stuck in the middle of the quicksand lake in his space suit, he uses his heat gun to melt sand into a long glass rod that fuses to a rock so he can pull himself out.

It also carries with it a lot of war-time subtext, reminding sailors both that math and science will be important if they want to progress through the ranks and have their own ship someday and that you should respect and obey your COs.

Larry died only a few years ago. He sounds like he was one hell of a guy.

 

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