To get the fastest transport to a rendezvous with his new job, spacer Rohr Furland decides to take a position on The Comet. Rohr doesn’t listen to gossip, so he isn’t aware that the captain of The Comet, who styles himself Captain Future, is a nut case who can’t find a crew because nobody else will work for him. Nobody, that is, except for Jeri, a bioengineered “Superior” human who Rohr develops a crush on. Why is Jeri, who is a wonderful person and an excellent First Officer, willing to put up with this awful job?
Captain Future, obsessed with 1960s American pulp science fiction, turns out to be a tyrant. His father bought him The Comet and now he’s living out all his boyhood fantasies as the captain of a spaceship. Rohr can’t stand Captain Future, but all he has to do is make it to their next stop, where Rohr will be disembarking. But when a distress signal comes in from a spaceship that’s in trouble, The Comet is obliged to change course and go to its aid. Now, with potential danger ahead, Captain Future is really in his element!
The Death of Captain Future, by Allen Steele, is a short fun story that’s bound to please fans of old science fiction heroic adventures. I listened to it in audio format and it kept me happily entertained for two hours. Audible Frontier’s version was read by Marc Vietor, who is perfect for this sort of role. This version has an introduction by Allen Steele (read by Allen Steele) in which he talks about how Edmond Hamilton’s CAPTAIN FUTURE stories, which Steele read when he was a young boy, inspired this story. He even includes excerpts from the CAPTAIN FUTURE books in the text. Allen Steele also explains how Jeri was inspired by the girl he had a crush on in sixth grade.
The Death of Captain Future appeared in the October 1995 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction and won both a Hugo Award and a Seiun Award. It was also nominated for a Nebula and a Locus Poll Award.