by Eric Frank Russell
• Word count: 4665
• Page count: 11
“Allamagoosa” is an award winning 1955 science fiction short story by Eric Frank Russell. It is about the crew of the spaceship Bustler, and their attempts to make everything spic and span prior to an official inspection.
“Allamagoosa” follows Captain McNaught as he learns that Rear Admiral Cassidy is coming to their spaceport to inspect the stores of the ship. With very little time to check everything, the Captain orders his crew back from shore leave and immediately begins painting the ship and checking its contents. Things get stressful when they can’t find an item called “offog.” After looking everywhere for it they decide on a plan that will get them off the hook – only to find out later that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea.
This story, which takes its title from the part where the captain refers to the missing inventory item as “some sort of scientific allamagoosa”, won the 1955 Hugo Award for Best Short Story. It also placed 30th on the 1971 Astounding/Analog All-Time Poll.
“V1098. Offog, one.”
“Quoi?” asked Blanchard, staring.
“V1098. Offog, one,” repeated McNaught. “Well, why are you looking thunderstruck? This is the ship’s galley. You’re the head cook. You know what’s supposed to be in the galley, don’t you? Where’s this offog?”
“Never hear of heem,” stated Blanchard, flatly.
“You must have. It’s on this equipment-sheet in plain, clear type. Offog, one, it says. It was here when we were fitted-out four years ago. We checked it ourselves and signed for it.”
“I signed for nossings called offog,” Blanchard denied. “In the cuisine zere is no such sing.”
Where you can find “Allamagoosa”:
• This story first appeared in the May 1955 edition of Astounding.
• “Allamagoosa” is included in the book of collected short stories The Best of Eric Frank Russell.
• You can read a free HTML version of “Allamagoosa” online at the old Sci Fiction.
Did you know that the author of “Allamagoosa”, Eric Frank Russell, was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in the year 2000 – twenty two years after his death? You can learn more about this British science fiction author at Wikipedia.
If you liked this story you’ll probably enjoy The Star by Arthur C. Clarke