No Award’ by Roger Zelazny

When the Secret Service employs telepaths to protect the President against assassination, the only way to get an assassin close enough is to keep the mind of the assassin somehow in suspension until the very last moment.

Description: In ‘No Award’ by  Roger Zelazny, we see the first-person stumblings of a man caught in a dilemma, being present as a Presidential address with little memory of how or why he was there. His memory and thoughts are fragmented, but disturbing flashes keep distracting him. And then, when he sees his hand produce a gun, he is immediately at war with himself, allowing the Secret Service the time to stop him.

What had happened, the man is told, is that a group intending to assassinate the President used a number of surgical and psychological techniques to separate his brain into two distinct personalities, one conscious that was the ordinary mind and one kept in a deep trance state until the proper moment and the proper trigger. Unfortunately, that process could not be reversed, leaving the man with only half of a mind, unable to communicate with the other half except through the most crude of ways.

History: This story is reprinted in “The Last Defender of Camelot”, and Roger explains the origin of the story:

Betty White of The Evening Post suddenly solicited a 3,500 word story from me one day, so I did this one quickly and she bought it just as quickly. Then I asked her why she had wanted it. She told me that she recently had her television set on and was occupied with something which did not permit her to change channels readily. A show named “Star Trek” came on and whe watched it through and enjoyed it. She had not known much about science fiction, she said, and she resolved to stop by her paperback book store the following day, buy a science fiction book at random and read it. It happened to be one of mine. She read it and liked it and decided to ask me for a story.

It is interesting to contemplate what novel Betty White read. This story was published in 1977: at that time, Zelazny had published the greater portion of his novel work, including his award winning novels “This Immortal” and “Lord of Light”, several other nominated works, as well as 4 out of the first 5 Amber novels.

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