B. Pope's Reviews > I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream

I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison
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's review
Apr 06, 2012

really liked it

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 questions about religion and the nature of reality as we know it. It asks what darkness do you have deep within you and what darkness would manifest in time and torment. A great story worthy of a read, I really enjoyed this one. I give it a solid 4 out of 5.

Laugh Track was the second tale in the collection. It is about "sweetening", that is adding canned laughs to a tv show and a metaphysical realm that might exist if one can construct the essence of a person in a non-place. All-in-all the story is decent enough, it is humorous and weird, it is dark and not-so-dark at the same time. I wouldn't go so far as to say this story is ground-breaking or even that great, but it does have in it some novel concepts and a great feel for the protagonist and his family. I give it a 2 out of 5.

Grail comes third in the short stories contained in this volume. It is a strange search for "true love". The different themes and morals you can take away from this story are numerous. It is quite descriptive and creates a great realm and feel all its own, even though it is mostly right here in the modern world. It asks questions about life, love, pursuit, goals and dreams and how it answers them is quite up to your interpretation. The story is not what I expected from moment to moment, but it was a fun ride. I give it a 4 out of 5.

"Repent Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman is fourth. I had read this one before, years ago. Amazing, amazing, I loved it the first time and I loved it again! A critique of modern life, a shocking and horrific dystopia, a robin hood style hero... it's post-modern, it's transcendentalist, it's existential, it has questions about time and individuality and life and death and ... I give it a 5 out of 5.

The Very Last Day of a Good Woman is the fifth story. Meh. It was ok I suppose. Thankfully it was short. It did very little for me. It was descriptive but predictable. I give it a 1.5 out of 5.

The Time of the Eye was next in line. It was strange, but oddly predictable in many ways. I liked the symbolism in it and the way the tale wove itself like the garden the characters were in. It was a interesting and drew me in... to a point. I give it a 2.5 out of 5.

Paladin of the Lost Hour was seventh in tales in the volume. I have to admit, for one of the longer stories that contained little action I found this piece to be fantastic. It is about great loss and regret and time lost. It is about friendship and crossing barriers and letting people in... really neat and interesting human drama is contained this tale. A little predictable near the end, but trust me, that's ok. Very much worth a read indeed. I give it a 4.5 out of 5.

The Lingering Scent of Woodsmoke is super short and fun. I don't know what else to say about it. It isn't great or terrible. I give it a 3 out of 5 (for what it was).

A Boy and His Dog, well at first, I didn't know if I was going to like this story. It was dirty on the verge of being perverse. But as the tale continued, I began to see what was being presented in the story. It is a complex presentation of ultimate freedom versus ultimate conformity in all aspects. The tale's crass and base nature belies a subtle questioning of human nature. The story is about sex and lust, revenge and compassion, man and woman, cunning and brutality, it is a tale that inverts many standard thoughts about the way of things and stands, rightfully so, as a sci-fi classic. I couldn't help but enjoy it, it warrants a 5 out of 5.

As an overall rating, I would give The Voice from the Edge: I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream a 4 out of 5. It was a lot of fun. I recommend it to everyone... well, as long as you don't mind a lot of cussing and sex and very dark sci-fi stories.
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