I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream
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I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  5,030 ratings  ·  277 reviews
Harlan Ellison has won more awards for imaginative literature than any other living author, but only aficionados of Ellison’s singular work have been aware of another of his passions…he is a great oral interpreter of his stories. His recordings have been difficult to obtain—by his choice. In 1999, for the first time, he was lured into the studio to record this stunning ret...more
Kindle Edition, 146 pages
Published March 5th 2011 by Gollancz (first published 1967)
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Harlan Ellison is an asshole.

No really. He is a sexist, condescending, cocky, arrogant prick. His sense of superiority oozes out of every one of the stories' introductions in this collection. Wherever there is a female character, she is portrayed as weak, whorish or manipulative. In the intro to "Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes" he casually refers to the woman that inspired the story as someone who he wanted to lay, but didn't get an opportunity to. He constantly talks about his writing as if it was God...more
Scribble Orca
Jan 08, 2011 Scribble Orca rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sci-fi fans
Recommended to Scribble by: Maciek
Some of us are still gallivanting around the cave, some of us are chained to the floor examining shadows. And some of us exist inside the consciousness of a malevolent artificial intelligence that derives its only amusement, diversion from unceasing monotony, in merciless torment of five surviving humans:

the scientist, the idealist, the existentialist, the prostitute and the Messiah.

The only escape is annihilation, and it is left to the Messiah to condemn himself to eternal suffering.

You're excu...more
In Harlan Ellison's I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream, five people are trapped inside the giant computer AM, which delights in torturing them in endlessly fiendish ways. Clearly, this touches a raw nerve: the story is one of the most famous in the history of science-fiction. It just occurred to me to wonder why the machine enjoys torturing the people, and whether it would in fact make any difference if, instead, it tried to minister to their every need. After a couple of minutes more considerat...more
Wow. This book might've been pretty good if it hadn't been so misogynistic. There isn't a woman in this collection who isn't a slut, a tease, a one-dimensional character who is pined after for no good reason, or a body with a forgotten name for a protagonist to sleep with and then discard. Two women are raped but one of them was the tease, so I guess that makes it okay according to Ellison in that story. I like the idea of the super-computer in one story who takes over the world & keeps a fe...more
A collection stories in a very fine edition with introductions to each story by the author and a general introduction by Theodore Sturgeon singing Ellison's praises. Someone who's opinion I don't take lightly as I regard Sturgeon's work as amongst the finest SF ever written. My impressions after finishing this collection are that Sturgeon was pretty much correct.

Ellison's approach is to shock and to provoke a reaction in the reader. He seems to carry a sense of frustration with people and societ...more
An evil computer kills the entire human race except for a few individuals, whom he torments for eternity. It’s poorly written, just piling up overstatements without any trace of nuance, wit or depth, and it centers on the most facile depiction of evil and misanthropy that I can imagine.
Wow. Some pretty disturbing shit. Especially for the time period it was published in. Title story was the best in my opinion.
The Basics

A collection of short fiction by Harlan Ellison in which the title story is one of his most famous. It follows a group of people who are the last humans on earth. They are being kept alive by a supercomputer named AM, who also tortures them for his amusement. The situation is incredibly hopeless, but is there still escape left for them?

My Thoughts

I want to focus at first on “I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream”, the title story, for this review. It’s incredibly famous. When people talk a...more
Read the STOP SMILING article about Harlan Ellison:

Bless the Knowledge, Curse the Lesson: Harlan Ellison and Counsel Fight the Good Fight
By Michael Helke

When the band Metallica filed suit against Napster for providing its subscribers with access to copyright-protected music, everybody scoffed. When Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield rolled onto Napster property like a couple Caesars crossing the Rubicon, clutching a stack of names of users who downloaded the band's music, the collective yawn their...more
Venus Smurf
I have a student in one of my colleges courses who asked if he could use this for one of his comparative essays. I usually encourage students to branch out, so of course I agreed. I had to read it to make sense of his paper, though, and I'm sort of regretting that.

This is eff'd up. It's one of the weirdest things I've ever read, and the type of work that leaves the reader shaking their heads and maybe twitching just a bit for days. The villain is beyond twisted, the characters themselves have is...more
Eric Kolb
Ellison doesn't look too favorably upon the "fairer sex," and that's only the beginning of his downright curmudgeonly character flaws he demonstrates in this anthology. And yet, there's a peculiar truth to be found in his work. Not that I am suggesting there is a tautological truth to be had here, but that there is a kind of beauty in the raw and rare honesty Ellison writes with. The instinct of most people (and therein most writers) is to project a version of themselves -- the dynamic, in-writt...more
Prepare yourself, for this is one of the most hate-filled, aggressively grotesque yet utterly masterful short stories I have ever read. I don’t think anyone can claim to be unaffected after reading it.

Ellisons’s I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream depicts a world in which the Cold War escalates into full-blown conflict. Three AI supercomputers are constructed in China, Russia and the USA to aid in the war but one becomes sentient, absorbs the other two and destroys all of mankind but for one woman...more
Chris Abel
I was unimpressed by this book. I love science fiction, and I believe that Harlan Ellison is considered one of the all-time great Sci-Fi authors, however this was my first experience with any of his work.

The title story is good, and the last story -- "Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes" -- starts off well, but has a fairly obvious ending.

After reading this, I'm left wondering what all of the fuss about Ellison is all about.
Jay Leo
I do not, at all, understand why this guy is revered by anyone. Aside from a handful of interesting speculative fiction ideas, these stories read like high school creative writing assignments. Full of sentences like this:

"There were three of them, handsome men in the extreme."
I've read this a dozen times over the years. Wow! He has a unique insight into humanity, the future & an extremely imaginative way of putting them together. This is a classic!
John Jackson
Excellent. Each story sucks you in, chews you up, and spits you out mangled and forever damaged.
I must have missed something. On first blush, this books should have been right up my street - strange, often twisted sci-fi and bizarro vignettes by an acknowledged master. Why, then, did I take longer to read this slim volume than I did my last foray into Dostoyevsky?

Maybe it was the misogyny. Every female character (this is not an exaggeration) is a whore who preys on a given story's nondescript, but hateful male narrator. The sheer amount of loathing and contempt that Mr. Ellison's characte...more
MB Taylor
I finished reading I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream last night. It’s an interesting collection. The seven short stories were originally published between 1958 and 1967.

The first two stories in the collection, “I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream” (1967) and “Big Sam Was My Friend” (1958) were originally published in science fiction magazines (If: Worlds of Science Fiction and Science Fiction Adventures respectively). The remaining five were published in Rogue and Knight, two men’s magazines...more
B. Pope
First, I'll touch on each tale individually...

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream is the first short story in the collection. It is terrible future where an/the AI known as "AM" has taken over the world and annihilated humanity save for 5 individuals that it keeps in it's metal belly to torment. To call the future contained in the story dystopic would be misleading, it is so much worse than that. But the tale is one that asks not only questions of technology and human-machine interaction, it asks...more
A collection of short stories. Contains the following:

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream
Big Sam Was My Friend
Eyes of Dust
World of the Myth
Delusion for a Dragon Slayer
Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes

Harlan Ellison is a genius. 'Nuff said.

SF short stories are just about the only genre of short stories I can stand.

BTW, this book comes with its own release instructions, which is fitting because the book came to me through Bookcrossing. The following is on the very first page:

In 1967 "I Have No Mou...more
I... don't... know?

I am relatively new to spec-fic and sci-fi. I've read a lot of older stuff and thoroughly enjoyed some SF such as 2001 and Liminal States. I was promised by a co-worker that this story (which I would like to note, I thought was a novella and is actually a short story) is insane and the ending would blow me away and general pomp and circumstance was showered upon me and the story. So I had pretty high expectations.

I am not necessarily disappointed... except in the length. I wo...more
Incredible! Amazing! Mind-blowing! Magnificent! And all the other superlatives under the sun. Best short story I have ever read by a country mile.

I generally dislike short stories because they end just as you get a feel for them. Ofcourse this is the point but it still pisses me off. This tale by Ellison however is so perfect, and so downright scary, that I was relieved when it ended. This is not a world I would want to stay in for a long period of time.

Without giving the game away, this is a...more
Nada Elfeituri
This is incredibly ghastly, very chilling. The true meaning of the word horror. I would have given it 5-stars for being a perfect horror story, except I can't say I enjoyed it. Since this is by Ellison, I'm sure the message of the story was supposed to be how man's deeds will eventually get him in the end, how we bring our own misery upon ourselves or whatever, but to personify this message in the form of five human beings being tortured for eternity wasn't something I could stomach. Humankind,...more
The title story in this collection is nothing short of devastatingly good.
Harlan Ellison is the type of writer who punches his readers straight in the gut. There's nothing subtle about the emotional impact of an Ellison story or novella. There is also nothing false, fake, corny or poorly written. I'm still of the opinion that "A Boy and His Dog" is probably the best novella of Ellison's. But "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" is unbelievable. I would recommend Ellison's stories to anyone in th...more
1 of the nastiest, misanthropic stories, I've had the displeasure of reading ... good in concept ... the Internet "AM" (which in fact began as DARPAnet and was funded by advanced defense research) becomes sentient, goes mad, wipes out all of humanity but a few individuals, and tortures them for creating it as a limited system that is suffering - and when it can't prevent them from killing each other and committing suicide turns the last of them into a giant slug without a mouth to scream ... not...more
Nate D
I tend to agree with Joanna Russ. She apparently told Ellison (he conveys) that she wished his stories were more re-readable, ie essentially that their deep structure and inner workings held up a little better under scrutiny after the initial breathless rush of the first reading. Because, probably just as these were composed, they read in torrents of whirling description and emotion, page turners to be sure, but in general I imagine that re-reading would drag somewhat. Ellison, seemed to mention...more
Zachary Littrell
I am blown away. What an emotional, mind-bending, unique experience, weaved into every story. Ellison crafts each story, ranging from psychedelic fantasy to straight science fiction, as imperfect, unrepentant, and unrelenting. Threaded through each story is the theme of humanity looking at itself, and terrified at what they find. The characters are petty narcissists with few redeemable qualities, many of them bordering on insanity, but Ellison's addicting prose forces you to continue the stories...more
Perry Bekkerus
Read someone else's review if you want a summary of the story. I enjoyed the title story. I didn't read the others, but there isn't a place to review short stories alone on Goodreads.

I liked:
•the story's premise
•the allegorical nature of the premise
•the mild twists that the story takes
•the conclusion
•the theme

I didn't like:
•the use of specific, obviously out-dated technologies (even for 1967).
•the language, while rich in vocabulary and adjective, was not artistically created.

The theme, in...more
Chris Capps
What can I say about this one that hasn't already been said? Harlan Ellison weaves a tale so profoundly disturbing that it is tied with the Hellbound Heart as one of the scariest things THAT CAN HAPPEN EVER in my opinion.

If you haven't read I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, I recommend immersing yourself in the audiobook reading performed by the author himself. Ellison's performance adds that extra bit of unnerving and unhinged hate that AM feels for the human race.

Charles Loelius
This is Ellison at his finest. It is dark, terrifying, and clever. While perhaps not the kind of thing to make you rethink reality, it is truly an excellent horror story, bringing to life characters who would prefer death. The ending on this one is one of the most terrifying I have ever encountered. Short, available online, and highly recommended for anyone who likes dark fiction, science fiction, or who just wants to experience a touch of dread.
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Harlan Jay Ellison is a prolific American writer of short stories, novellas, teleplays, essays, and criticism.

His literary and television work has received many awards. He wrote for the original series of both The Outer Limits and Star Trek as well as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour; edited the multiple-award-winning short story anthology series Dangerous Visions; and served as creative consultant/write...more
More about Harlan Ellison...
Dangerous Visions Again, Dangerous Visions Deathbird Stories "Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman Shatterday

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“And we passed through the cavern of rats.

And we passed through the path of boiling steam.

And we passed through the country of the blind.

And we passed through the slough of despond.

And we passed through the vale of tears.

And we came, finally, to the ice caverns.”
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