Not muti murderers but organleggers

By its very nature science fiction has always looked to the future so writers of SF have always had to invent nouns and verbs for things and activities that don't yet exist. 'Robot' was coined, if memory serves, by a Czech writer in the 1920s; Star Trek's warp drive is one of many names coined for the faster-than-light technology that, like Asimovian robots, is still on the drawing board.

But a TV preview on the UK's Channel 4 which is on my screen as I write this promises an investigation into an activity that until now I assumed was still safely in the realms of SF.

In the 1970s US SF author Larry Niven launched a series of stories and novels set in a coherent 'future history'. Some of these stories featured criminals who Niven called 'organleggers'. Instead of the bath-tub hooch that was the stock in trade of prohibition gangsters, these 22nd century perps dealt (will deal?) in body parts.

In fact my puzzlement over tenses is irrelevant because the Channel 4 Unreported World programme promises "an* horrifying investigation into 'muti murder' in South Africa where people are being killed for body parts". And organlegging, which stuck in my mind 30 years ago as a clever name, has become a reality far sooner that Niven or I expected.

That's humanity for you: robots and warp drive you'll have to wait for. Organleggers? They're here now. And where are Niven's Co-Dominium Line Marines when we need them?

* I do have a view on the misused aspirate but launching a debate on usage based on this story might be seen as poor taste

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh I don't know...I think robots are here in a limited capacity. It's the cyborgs that I'm waiting for.....

(who coined that? Albeit an obvious portmanteau of "cybernetic organism" - NB I've just been watching "Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles" on another channel!!)