The Seventh Victim
What's it about?The Seventh Victim was written in 1953 by Robert Sheckley.
In a war-weary world people have devised a way to end all war: Reinstate the gladiatorial games of the past and turn man's innate violent tendencies into a voluntary, legal, murderous cat-and-mouse game. The Seventh Victim doesn't focus on the gladiatorial games but on the murderous cat-and-mouse game. Rechanneling Man's violence has successfully averted war, and we get a glimpse into a strange world where violence is "contained".
Here's a story excerpt:
... To stop the race from destroying itself ... rechannel Man’s violence.
Provide him with an outlet, an expression.
The first big step was the legalization of gladiatorial events, complete with blood and thunder. But more was needed. Sublimations worked only up to a point. Then people demanded the real thing.
There is no substitute for murder.
So murder was legalized, on a strictly individual basis, and only for those who wanted it. The governments were directed to create Emotional Catharsis Boards. ...
Anyone who wanted to murder could sign up at the ECB. ... he would be granted a Victim.
Anyone who signed up to murder, ... had to take his turn a few months later as Victim—if he survived.
... The individual could commit as many murders as he wanted. But between each, he had to be a Victim. If he successfully killed his Hunter, he could stop, or sign up for another murder.
At the end of ten years, an estimated third of the world’s civilized population had applied for at least one murder. The number slid to a fourth, and stayed there.
Philosophers shook their heads, but the practical men were satisfied.
War was where it belonged—in the hands of the individual. ...
The Emotional Catharsis Board picked the Victims’ names at random. A Hunter was allowed two weeks in which to make his kill. ...
The Victim was notified a week before the Hunter. He was told only that he was a Victim. He did not know the name of his Hunter. ...
The Victim could arrange any kind of ambush in his power to kill the Hunter.
There were stiff penalties for killing or wounding the wrong man, for no other murder was allowed. Grudge killings and gain killings were punishable by death.
The beauty of the system was that the people who wanted to kill could do so. Those who didn’t—the bulk of the population—didn’t have to.
At least, there weren’t any more big wars. Not even the imminence of one.
Just hundreds of thousands of small ones.
How is it like The Hunger Games?
- Both feature fight to the death games in a dystopian future.