Muckers!!!

In the 1968 novel, Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner coins the term “Muckers” to describe people who go crazy and start killing people. According to the book:

It’s no coincidence…that we have muckers. Background: ‘mucker’ is an Anglicisation of ‘amok’. Don’t believe anyone who says it’s a shifted pronunciation of ‘mugger’. You can survive a mugger, but if you want to survive a mucker the best way is not to be there when it happens. (pg. 31)

The book actually introduces muckers much earlier in a newsreel-style narration:

The incidence of muckers continues to maintain its high: one in Outer Brooklyn yesterday accounted for 21 victims before the fuzzy-wuzzies fused him, and another is still at large in Evanston, Ill., with a total of eleven and three injured. Across the sea in London a woman mucker took out four as well as her own three-month baby before a mind-present standerby clobbered her. Reports also from Rangoon, Lima and Auckland notch up the day’s toll to 69. (pg. 7)

In other words, the frequency of deaths caused by people who start killing others is reportable on a daily basis in the fictional world of Stand on Zanzibar (set in 2010).

I am most amazed that a Google search for “muckers” does not return results related to Brunner (at least, not on the first three pages as of this writing…and who proceeds further than page three of Google search results?).

Every time I hear news of another mass shooting or senseless act of violence, I think to myself, “Another mucker.” While Brunner’s explained etymology was the word “amok,” the additional layer that “mucker” could be “m(other)-(f)ucker” adds emphasis to something that currently has no term and is yet universally deplored.

Brunner’s term, “mucker,” deserves its place as the word modern society uses to identify individuals who, from whatever motivation, disregard the sanctity of human life and rob others of their existence through overt, public spectacles of carnage and terror.

Source:

Brunner, John. Stand on Zanzibar. Del Rey, 1968.

Note: It’s been twenty years since I read Stand on Zanzibar. Of the plot, characters, and important themes, it’s only the Muckers that remain in my memory. I actually own the library book I read in the 1990s, not because I stole it, but because I bought the actual copy from the library book sale years later.

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