The Jigsaw Man

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"The Jigsaw Man"
Author Larry Niven
Country America
Language English
Genre(s) Science fiction
Published in Dangerous Visions
Publication type anthology
Publisher Doubleday
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Publication date 1967

"The Jigsaw Man" is a short story in the Known Space universe by Larry Niven. The story was first published in Harlan Ellison's anthology Dangerous Visions, and is included in Niven's collections All the Myriad Ways and Tales of Known Space.

Plot summary[edit]

In the future, criminals convicted of capital offenses are forced to donate all of their organs to medicine, so that their body parts can be used to save lives and thus repay society for their crimes. However, high demand for organs has inspired lawmakers to lower the bar for execution further and further over time.

The protagonist of the story, certain that he will be convicted of a capital crime, but feeling that the punishment is unfair, escapes from prison and decides to do something really worth dying for. He vandalizes the organ harvesting facility, destroying a large amount of equipment and harvested organs, but when he is recaptured and brought to trial, this crime does not even appear on the charge sheet, as the prosecution is already confident of securing a conviction on his original offense: repeated traffic violations.


Algis Budrys criticized the story's "false basic premise", stating that although Niven implied that the story's premise could occur soon, despite widespread shortages terminally ill peoples' blood was not being extracted. He concluded that "Niven looks a little ridiculous this time ... [it] is neither good lecture nor good story".[1]


  1. ^ Budrys, Algis (April 1968). "Galaxy Bookshelf". Galaxy Science Fiction. pp. 155–163. 

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