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I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  20,311 ratings  ·  1,307 reviews
First published in 1967 and re-issued in 1983, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream contains seven stories with copyrights ranging from 1958 through 1967. This edition contains the original introduction by Theodore Sturgeon and the original foreword by Harlan Ellison, along with a brief update comment by Ellison that was added in the 1983 edition. Among Ellison's more famous ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 134 pages
Published January 15th 1984 by Ace Books (first published April 1967)
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Connor Hey, I'm a big Ellison fan, and really enjoy current writers like Brian Evenson and Robert Shearman. They both have great short story collections. And…moreHey, I'm a big Ellison fan, and really enjoy current writers like Brian Evenson and Robert Shearman. They both have great short story collections. And of course, the Ellison edited Dangerous Visions is a compilation of all of Ellison's favorite sf writer's, many of which have their own great collections. Hope this helps(less)

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Average rating 3.95  · 
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May 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
EDIT: 11/29/2015: Hi. It's been almost five years since I wrote this review and I've learned a lot about feminism and misogyny and what constitutes GOOD writing to me. So I decided I should come back to this and append this review with a disclaimer: I wrote this before A: coming out as trans and B: realizing that I don't have to defend a writer for the things they do well when their writing is overshadowed by disgusting and horribly backwards views regarding marginalized groups. So while I'm gon ...more
Jul 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-reviews
I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream

Eight words that conjure up images of despair, darkness and desolation. Images of a place where absolutely nothing can bring relief from the misery and the pain. Nothing to stand between you and the whatever it is that makes you want to escape, to run, to do anything to make it all stop. To scream. But you can't. After all your lines of defense have been breached, after all your physical, psychological and emotional barriers have been torn down, all that is left
Feb 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
The title story is a futuristic nightmare written in 1967, with many echoes of the vengeful God of the Old Testament, and even the brief appearance of “a celestial chorus singing, ‘Go Down Moses.’” However, there is no humour or light relief. The near-omnipotent computer makes HAL from 2001 seem merely mean and misunderstood.

After a global war, there is just one supercomputer and five humans. For one hundred and nine years, they have been trapped beneath the Earth, the playthings of a progressiv
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sharing the Luv

Religion, all religion, has a problem accounting for the existence of that which is not God. If there is a Creator-God, what reason could induce him/her/it to bring something other than himself/herself/itself into existence? The paradox is not often recognised: If God exists, why should anything else? This problem is particularly acute for Christianity which contends that the essence of God is the mutual love of the members of its Holy Trinity. Such divine love, it is claimed, is
Dan Schwent
Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
In the interest of finally reading something written by Harlan Ellison and also to teach myself to better write short stories, I decided to take this short story collection on.

I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream: The title story of the collection is the tale of a mad AI computer that has been torturing the last five humans alive for untold centuries for its own amusement. This was a pretty chilling tale of a hellish future. I loved the surprising ending.

Big Sam was My Friend: This is the story of
Glenn Russell

Literary critic Ted Gioia on Harlan Ellison's seven rule-shattering stories collected here:

"But I am willing to declare, under oath if need be, that this book is a classic, one of the defining works in the New Wave movement that rewrote the sci-fi rulebook back in the 1960s. And while many of the other New Wave books have aged poorly, their once daring gambits now looking like failed sucker bets, this one still ups the ante. And probably because Harlan Ellison, even at his most experimental, al
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
There's a particularly memorable and terrifting concept presented in the headline story.

What would you feel had you lived in the world where you were at a crazy omnipotent machine's mercy?

What if the immortal you were tortured continuously by the said machine beyond endurance on and on?

What if you lived an eternity as a plaything for a computer mind bored out of its computer mind? And you both were well aware that the lucky YOU were the LAST TOY left around?

What if even suicide and madness w
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 few hu ...more
Jen/The Tolkien Gal/ジェニファー
Firstly, I'd like to express my grief at the loss of one of the best speculative fiction writers all time. I will always remember Harlan for his influence on my young adult life; an author that gave me shivers and cheers of delight - so good an author that I would edge myself on my seat when reading or listening to his stories. He won a bloody Hugo award in a time filled with antisemitism.

Image result for harlan ellison fanart

Alrightly. So I decided to write a review for this breathtaking, before-its-time short story - mostly becaus
Oct 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, pre-80s-sf
It is a terrible mistake to assume that everybody else will love — or at least like — your favorite things, whatever you consider to be an all-time great. This is the most important lesson I have taken away from I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. I recommended this story to a smart and discerning friend, foolishly expecting her to at least be impressed with it. After she has finished it I was mortified to be informed that she actually hated it! As I value her opinion on literary matters greatly ...more
Scribble Orca
Jan 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: incels
Shelves: 2019
Over here in Edgy Books For People Who Thought Suicide Squad Was Cool, we have Harlan Ellison and this collection of dumb-ass stories. Maybe one or two of them don’t feature women getting raped? Maybe not. Each of these is like if you get your windows tinted and neon underglow lights on your car but it’s still a Mazda. The plot is really simple - like, one of these stories is just about a guy whose girlfriend dies and he gets sad and commits suicide - it’s all dressed up with science fictiony st ...more
James Kittredge
Oct 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
I can't truly appreciate one of my favourite authors, Octavia E. Butler, without having read anything by her friend and mentor, Harlan Ellison, which is why I have included him on my Bucket List Worlds Without End reading challenge.

As you can tell by my four stars, I am not disappointed, but that does not necessarily mean that I enjoyed Ellison's work in its entirety. Similarly, I don't like the context of everything Butler writes, but gods do I love reading what spills from their incredible mi
Rachel Bea
Meh. The misogyny that ran throughout the stories was... really off-putting. For example it's hard to enjoy a story when a woman character is being blamed for getting sexually assaulted. It's too bad the stories include gross crap like that because otherwise they would have been pretty good. The imagery coming from the text was nightmare-ish and disturbing. So, I liked that aspect of the stories. The writing was otherwise good to okay. I've been intrigued by this collection for a while now but I ...more
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, kindle, anthology
This book is not my cup of tea.

The stories are told in a rapid-sketched, cartoonish style, reminiscent of Vonnegut but without any of the humor or hope.

In the introductions to the various stories, the author mentions that most of them were first published in "girlie" magazines because, he says, they don't "edit" him. Having finished this collection I have to wonder if it didn't also have something to do with the way Ellison portrays women in this collection: as objects. Things to be feared, or d
2016: I'm going to skim this since the SF & Heroic Fantasy group is reading it & I nominated the book. Should have done this sooner. The group folder with topics for each story is here:

It was a good reread, but I'm dropping it by a star. There were a couple of real stinkers in here that I'd conveniently forgotten about or maybe I liked them at one time & just don't any more.

Introduction by Theodore Sturgeon was interesting in several ways. Ellison is a pro
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars
I really really wanted to love this...but even though it might be an unpopular opinion, I got to stick to my guts and sadly admit I was not impressed.
While the Title story and Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes were good and really haunting, the rest of the stories in this collection left me cold. I actually found myself bored and drifting off (to be honest, I even skipped one of the stories, because I kept falling asleep)
Some books and writing styles, while loved by others, are just not for eve
Paul O'Neill
Nov 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a varied collection and hard to rate. It has three of the best stories I've ever read (I have no mouth and I must scream - Lonelyache - World of the myth).

The others weren't to my liking at all (Eyes of Dust was decent but the rest didn't work for me). It's also worth noting that most collections have a decent amount of stories where this only has seven, which is a bit of a rip.

I'm ignoring the fact that Ellison was known to be a bit of a cunt. The title story is worth the price of admiss
Nandakishore Varma
Harlan Ellison writes brilliantly. No lesser adjective can be used for his creations. They are exquisitely dark, cloyingly rich, and fiercely addictive. It is the equivalent of a drug trip on the nth level - the verbal equivalent of extremely powerful hallucinogens.

The title story is the darkest and the most powerful. In a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has been totally wiped out by an artificial intelligence which has gained sentience, the sadistic computer master keeps five human beings
Apr 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, horror, sf
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
Alex Bright
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well, that was nauseating. Which I guess is the point. I didn't enjoy it per se, but it'll definitely stick with me. ...more
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Four and a half stars.

This book contains some of Harlan Ellison's best stories, although speaking of Harlan Ellison it can be said that all his stories are good. I recommend it.
Feb 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Wow. Some pretty disturbing shit. Especially for the time period it was published in. Title story was the best in my opinion.
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
Sep 29, 2014 rated it liked it
You know what kind of pisses me off? This idea that great stories somehow transcend categories, because measly science fiction could never be great unless it was "more" than science fiction.

Sorry sweet snowflakes, but you didn't write anything uncategorizable. You wrote sci-fi, a genre of so much depth and possibility and wonder that it can explore a great many topics concerning humanity.

And that may seem like a random rant to have here, but the goodreads description of this was aggravating. Th
Phillip Smith
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding stuff in here. Just a whiz-bang of creativity written in the rhythm of a runaway train careening out of control. Some might dislike Ellison. I'm not one of them.

Come for I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, but stay for Eyes of Dust, Delusion for a Dragon Slayer, and Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes.
Sep 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Has there ever been a more controversial, acerbic American writer of speculative/fantastic fiction than Harlan Ellison? It is highly doubtful.

I first encountered Hurricane Harlan - term of endearment so don't fret, you Harlan fanboys - through his weekly commentary video's he did for the Sci-Fi channel (It's probably a given he wasn't overly fond of that name, huh?) in the early nineties. To those few souls who take delight in hearing the rantings, ravings, and -perhaps ironically - the odd mor
Love of Hopeless Causes
Transhumanists supposedly believe they will download their consciousness onto computers, so they are free to explore the galaxy unburdened by meatspace. Having read many stories where the computer goes to Nutsville, the last thing I want is to be eternally damned to live grafted on some loopy addled microchip. If you want to know what that hell might be like, read this, otherwise don't bother. The comic book is easier to follow than the audiobook. description
I just read the title story, though I read the o
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Harlan Jay Ellison was 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/writ

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“I am a great soft jelly thing. Smoothly rounded, with no mouth, with pulsing white holes filled by fog where my eyes used to be. Rubbery appendages that were once my arms; bulks rounding down into legless humps of soft slippery matter. I leave a moist trail when I move. Blotches of diseased, evil gray come and go on my surface, as though light is being beamed from within. Outwardly: dumbly, I shamble about, a thing that could never have been known as human, a thing whose shape is so alien a travesty that humanity becomes more obscene for the vague resemblance. Inwardly: alone. Here. Living under the land, under the sea, in the belly of AM, whom we created because our time was badly spent and we must have known unconsciously that he could do it better. At least the four of them are safe at last. AM will be all the madder for that. It makes me a little happier. And yet ... AM has won, simply ... he has taken his revenge ...

I have no mouth. And I must scream.”
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