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Literature / My Name Is Legion

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A trilogy of science fiction stories by Roger Zelazny, originally published separately before being collected under the title My Name Is Legion. The protagonist is a secret agent who adopts a new identity for each mission, and whose true identity is unknown even to his employer.

  • "The Eve of RUMOKO": The protagonist is assigned to watch over a scientific project that has been threatened with sabotage.
  • "'Kjwalll'kje'k'koothaïlll'kje'k": A murder investigation leads to the discovery of a non-human sapient species.
  • "Home Is the Hangman": A long-lost space exploration robot returns to Earth and may have murderous intent toward its creators.

"Home Is the Hangman" won the Hugo Award and Nebula Award for Best Novella.

These stories provide examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: In "Home Is the Hangman", a space-exploring AI returns to Earth and the protagonist is sent to investigate whether it's out to murder its programmers. Far from it.
  • Character Name Alias: The protagonist's aliases are always the names of obscure-but-notable historical figures. In a break from the usual procedure, the historical figure always has nothing whatever to do with the job at hand; for instance, in "The Eve of RUMOKO" he is undercover as an engineer, but using a name whose original owner was a doctor.
  • Cranial Processing Unit: Averted in "Home Is the Hangman"; the android's "brain" is located in its abdomen.
  • Clear My Name: "'Kjwalll'kje'k'koothaïlll'kje'k" has the protagonist sent to a dolphinological research facility in order to clear the dolphins of a claimed death-by-dolphin.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: "'Kjwalll'kje'k'koothaïlll'kje'k" includes Martha Millay, a famous and award-winning photographer who happens to be horribly crippled... and also a telepath. She lives a hermit-like existance on a remote island and explains that she might well have stayed in the city, if it weren't for her ability and knowledge of people's feelings about her.
  • I Have Many Names: The protagonist, hence the title of the collection. His original name is unknown to anybody but himself — even his employer doesn't know it — and is never revealed to the reader.
  • Literary Allusion Title: From the tale of the Gadarene Swine that appears in three of The Four Gospels.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: In Home is the Hangman, Dr. Leila isn't evil, per se, but she uses her patients for her own ends to run an extra-legal errand, resulting in her death.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: In "The Eve of RUMOKO", the saboteur explains that they're motivated by concerns that if RUMOKO goes ahead, it will have unintended consequences including significant property damage and loss of life. The protagonist chooses to stick to his mission, RUMOKO goes ahead as planned, the consequences happen, and a lot of people die, including the protagonist's love interest.
  • No Name Given: The protagonist's original name is never revealed.
  • Psycho Prototype: Hangman. He was the first, and no others were made after he went rogue. Subverted: although he refused to obey because of a crime the operators committed, he doesn't want revenge. He came back for upgrades.
  • The Spook: No records exist anywhere of the protagonist's original identity.
  • Underwater City: Underwater colonies are a significant part of the backstory of "The Eve of RUMOKO".
  • The Unfettered: the protagonist's reaction to RUMOKO and his plans for RUMOKO II: to scare the public into discontinuing the program by creating the worst seismic disturbance in history. The next story reveals that he did indeed go through with them, and RUMOKO II caused massive damage and huge casualties.
  • The Unpronounceable: 'Kjwalll'kje'k'koothaïlll'kje'k, in the story of the same name. It's a lot easier to pronounce if you're a dolphin.

Alternative Title(s): The Eve Of RUMOKO, Home Is The Hangman