“Caught in the Organ Draft” — Robert Silverberg

Robert Silverberg—four-time Hugo Award-winner, five-time winner of the Nebula Award, SFWA Grand Master, SF Hall of Fame honoree—is the author of nearly five hundred short stories, nearly one hundred-and-fifty novels, and has edited in the neighborhood of one hundred anthologies. Among his most famous works are Lord Valentine’s Castle, Dying Inside, Nightwings, and The World Inside. Learn more at www.majipoor.com.

The United States no longer has a draft.  Military conscription was ended under the Richard Nixon administration in 1973.  But before that, millions of American men experienced compulsory military service.  When confronted with the possibility of wartime horror and the very real threat of death, these men could not run.  They faced long sentences in military jails that were famous for their harsh conditions.  Once their time was over, their legal records would be ruined.

These men could give their bodies and lives to the war machines, or they could throw away their futures.  That was their choice.

In our next story, Robert Silverberg paints a reality where young people must once again choose between their bodies and their futures.  Their organs are needed by the rich and important, people who’ve got the power of the law on their side.  A conscripted organ donor can live without a lung or a kidney, but a convicted draft dodger might wish he’d never been born.

Here is a tale that pushes the boundaries of ownership and duty and leaves us ready to burn our draft cards and emigrate to another world.