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I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream
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Harlan Ellison IHNM&IMS Stories > "Big Sam Was My Friend" by Harlan Ellison

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message 1: by [deleted user] (last edited Jun 10, 2016 07:56PM) (new)

This is our discussion of the short story:


"Big Sam Was My Friend" by Harlan Ellison

This story is part of Ellison's collection I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, part of our group's anthology discussion.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

This is the closest thing to a simple, straightforward sci-fi story in the collection. Depressing but not horrific. Takes place among an interplanetary carnival, with Big Sam being the latest act, a teleporter from Earth with a dark, secret past. I like the way Ellison throws in little scifi tidbits, like flying platforms for performs for the ringmaster, though other than those (and interstellar travel) it's a familiar universe. The strange ritual of the Giuliu is a little odd, but then that isn't really the point.


message 3: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2158 comments This is another one that seemed to me to pound several messages into my head with the story as just a somewhat clunky vehicle for it. I enjoyed it, though.

I wonder how long this will make sense to people. The last circus with animals is gone now in the US, isn't it? I'm not sure how I feel about that - good for the animals, bad for the kids. There was a lot of magic & wonder in the circus when I was a kid, but I know it was a tough racket for everyone involved. It's seasonal, a lot of travel, long hours, & tough conditions.

I just gave an old carney who was hitchhiking a ride the other day. He was making his way through KY to VA where he was going to join a group working a carnival in MA for a few weeks before coming back to IN to work with his regular group. He talked about several carnivals & small circuses he'd worked. The tone was much like Ellison's.


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