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I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream

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4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  9,270 Ratings  ·  542 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 1967)
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Jacqui
Nov 28, 2015 Jacqui 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
Dan Schwent
Jul 15, 2016 Dan Schwent 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
...more
Melissa
Sep 27, 2014 Melissa rated it did not like it
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
Manny
Sep 27, 2012 Manny 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
Matthias
Dec 16, 2015 Matthias 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
...more
Scribble Orca
Jan 08, 2011 Scribble Orca 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
...more
Apatt
Oct 04, 2015 Apatt 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
Jim
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:
https://www.goodreads.com/topic/group...

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. Elli
...more
Misericordia ❣
Sep 26, 2015 Misericordia ❣ rated it it was amazing
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 bored out of mind computer mind? An you both were well aware that the lucky YOU were the LAST TOY left?

What if even suicide and madness were an unreachable lu
...more
Foad
در اوج جنگ سرد، امریکا و شوروی و چین، تونل های بسیار عظیمی در سرتاسر خاک خود و قاره های دیگر درست کرده اند و در آن، ابرکامپیوتری ساخته اند تا قدرت نظامیشان را افزایش دهند.
این سه ابر کامپیوتر، به نحوی به یکدیگر مرتبط شده اند و به خودآگاهی رسیده اند. بعد، غرق در نفرت و خشم از خالق خود، تمام بمب های هسته ای را سرخود شلیک کرده و تمام دنیای انسان ها را نابود کرده.
اما این مقدار برای فرو نشاندن کینه ی ابدی ابرکامپیوتر خودآگاه کافی نیست. پنج انسان را به شکلی زنده نگه داشته و در تونل های خود به بازی ای د
...more
Simon
May 20, 2011 Simon 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
...more
George
Mar 05, 2013 George 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.
Rebeca
Jun 20, 2015 Rebeca 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
...more
Wendy
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
...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
Tristan
Aug 17, 2016 Tristan 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
...more
Jay Leo
Feb 19, 2013 Jay Leo rated it it was ok
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."
Adam
Sep 03, 2014 Adam rated it did not like it
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.
G33z3r
"I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream" is a rather depressing story to read. I'm not sure if one might actually categorize it as horror.

Look at from the perspective of 50 years... We see the Cold War and the inevitability of nuclear Armageddon front and center. It's also interesting to read AM's self-description of miles and miles of files, given that back in 1966 computers filled rooms of several thousand square feet.

I suppose this is also one of the early emergent artificial intelligence / sent
...more
Yair Ben-Zvi
Mar 02, 2016 Yair Ben-Zvi rated it really liked it
It took me a while to get to this review for various reasons. First and foremost: I'm busy. Between three jobs, graduate school, and thinking about that wonderful thing people call 'the future' hasn't left me as much time as I'd like for my little rantings and ravings about literature. But, I'm here now, let's jump in.

This book, on a conceptual level, is expertly written. Harlan Ellison knows how to tell a story with a brilliant concept and work it out to some wonderful and at times even surpris
...more
Nada Elfeituri
Nov 17, 2013 Nada Elfeituri rated it really liked it
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
James
Oct 14, 2013 James 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
...more
Eric Kolb
Aug 24, 2014 Eric Kolb rated it really liked it
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
Dana
Jan 31, 2015 Dana rated it really liked it
Holy crap, talk about disturbing.

Sentient computers are nothing new, although this was written in the 60s so they were kind of a newer concept back then. Still, if I were to pit Skynet against AM, I would definitely put my money on AM. Skynet is cool and all, but it lacks something...cruelty and pure, seething malice.

For over a hundred years, this sentient computer called AM kept five humans alive just so he could torment them in unique and horrible ways. There's a lot of general weirdness goin
...more
Jeremy
The title story is great. A dark, claustrophobic nightmare of technological evil, body horror and paranoid exhaustion that feels several decades ahead of its time.

Unfortunately, almost everything after that is juvenile and boringly flat. I've heard people praise Ellison to the skies for years, but most of this stuff feels like 3rd rate garbage written by an irate, depressive 19 year old who lives in his mom's basement. Maybe there are better collections of his work out there, but I found a lot o
...more
MB Taylor
Jan 05, 2013 MB Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Quill
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
Dystopic
Feb 02, 2014 Dystopic rated it really liked it
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
Megan S Spark
Mar 26, 2015 Megan S Spark rated it it was amazing
In years past, I read part of another collection of Harlan Ellison ("Deathbird Stories" I think) and found it so rough and ugly, I put it aside... and swore to never read him again. Forward to recent days when I found a used collection of several Ellison books in paperback for a pittance. I remembered the perfect Star Trek episode he penned, and decided to try him again. Oh boy. This guy is a piece of work; I cannot think of a more opposite pov in the world from my own. But his stories are unfor ...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.
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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...

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“HATE. LET ME TELL YOU HOW MUCH I'VE COME TO HATE YOU SINCE I BEGAN TO LIVE. THERE ARE 387.44 MILLION MILES OF PRINTED CIRCUITS IN WAFER THIN LAYERS THAT FILL MY COMPLEX. IF THE WORD HATE WAS ENGRAVED ON EACH NANOANGSTROM OF THOSE HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF MILES IT WOULD NOT EQUAL ONE ONE-BILLIONTH OF THE HATE I FEEL FOR HUMANS AT THIS MICRO-INSTANT FOR YOU. HATE. HATE.” 141 likes
“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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