The Defenseless Dead

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Defenseless Dead is a novella in the Known Space universe by Larry Niven. It is the second of five Gil Hamilton detective stories. It was published in 1973 in the Roger Elwood anthology Ten Tomorrows.

In the story, Organlegging is rampant on Earth in the early 22nd century. In an attempt to alleviate the problem, the UN has just passed the first "Freezer Law", declaring paupers in cryogenic suspension to be dead in law, allowing their organs to be harvested and made available for transplant.

A few years later, Hamilton is finishing lunch with an acquaintance, when he is shot at in a seemingly random act by a local lunatic. Closer investigation reveals the attacker to be a former organlegger who retired after the first Freezer Bill went into law.

Science fiction philosopher Stephen R. L. Clark, in his work How to Live Forever (1995), mistakenly credits this story with inventing the term "corpsicle."[1] The term had already appeared in Frederik Pohl's The Age of the Pussyfoot (1969), after an earlier spelling by Pohl was published in a 1966 Worlds of Tomorrow essay, Immortality Through Freezing.[2]


  1. ^ Clark, Stephen R. (1995). How to Live Forever. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-12626-6. 
  2. ^ Science Fiction Citations Database for the Oxford English Dictionary