People losing it and going berserk in a SciFi novel
June 6, 2014 4:20 AM   Subscribe

Current affairs - that is, the apparent epidemic of guys with guns shooting up public places - are reminding me of a SciFi novel I read long ago, but they're not reminding me which one it was. As I recall, it was a dystopia where population pressure caused people to suddenly snap and lash out physically at whoever was nearby. IIRC, they were described as berserkers. What is that book?
posted by Kirth Gerson to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Stand on Zanzibar- great book!
posted by Mouse Army at 4:23 AM on June 6, 2014 [7 favorites]

They were called "muckers", for "amok", IIRC.
posted by Frowner at 4:44 AM on June 6, 2014

Robert Sheckley's "Immortality, Inc" starts off this way.
posted by Slinga at 5:32 AM on June 6, 2014

Yeah, I think you're thinking of Stand on Zanzibar. But another great dystopian sci-fi novel about a whole population going berserk, if you're inclined to read another, is Nightfall by Asimov and Silverberg (it was a collaboration).
posted by Cygnet at 5:38 AM on June 6, 2014

Oh, boy. It could be any of those, because I've read them all.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:17 AM on June 6, 2014

The Screwfly Solution is somewhat related.
posted by grobstein at 6:24 AM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

You might also be remembering elements of Heinlein's "The Year of the Jackpot."
posted by booksandlibretti at 7:08 AM on June 6, 2014

It's most definitely not a novel, but The X-Files episode "Blood" had similar elements, if you are looking for other examples of the trope.
posted by AndrewInDC at 7:48 AM on June 6, 2014

Immortality, Inc specifically uses the word "Berserkers" to describe the people who flip out in public and start killing people.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:59 AM on June 6, 2014

Seconding The Screwfly Solution, at least in terms of mass violence against women. I read this particular piece a week or so before the shooting and the coincidence sent a chill up my spine.
posted by Young Kullervo at 9:12 AM on June 6, 2014

Losing The War by Lee Sandlin is an essay about WWII. It's not SF but goes into detail about the whole 'berserker' thing.
(Mentioned here also because it's one of the best introductions to the war I've ever read.)
posted by Rash at 10:55 AM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

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