Prize Crew


  • First publication
    • Postscripts, Spring 2004.


Four space-navy officers go aboard a captured enemy starship to bring it back to Terra. One has returned after another jaunt in space with answers about what has been depopulating half of North American in his absence.


  • In the British navy a small crew was sent aboard a captured enemy ship in wartime to sail it back to friendly territory. The ship was worth prize money, so the crew was called a "prize crew."
  • The ship seems to have been alive, and it has transformed the Ensign into an instrument of revenge. Or the problem may have come from something alien to both sides, which caused the Miscreet ship to be deserted in the first place. "Or maybe we had picked up something earlier, only I think really the Miscreets had, but I don't know."
  • Ensign Parker was the only woman aboard the prize crew, and the commanding officer. Foreshadowing: she was only "a hundred and sixty centimeters or a little past. That's funny to think about. Now, I mean. Now it's funny." (The monster menacing Terra must be much larger).
  • Room changes:
  1. Originally the room order was Prescott, narrator, Lang, and Parker. Parker was closest to the entrance to the other decks.
  2. The narrator's room shrunk on him the night of the jump.
  3. It resumed its original size (making banging noises) while he was gone on watch. The narrator moved to the room at the far end of the corridor.
  4. While he was on watch the rooms changed again, with more banging noises, into: Prescott, blank, narrator, Lang, Parker. The new door was locked and they heard something moving inside the room.
  5. The next day, Ensign Parker enters the new room and the door locks behind her.
  6. Later when they investigate the new room has disappeared, and so has Parker.
  • The "pull-out boxes" in the bulkheads, used by the Miscreets for storage, foreshadow the concealment of Ensign Parker. The narrator thinks she has been transformed into the monster.

Unresolved Questions

  • Why does Lang have virtually no role in the story? He never seems to be bothered by the noises that disturb Prescott. Was there something going on between him and Parker, so that he wasn't in the adjacent room to the narrator at night?
  • Was the narrator also modified, perhaps the night when his room shrunk on him? If so, how much of his story is true?

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