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I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream 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 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 it makes me doubt my own taste and judgment Still, at the end of the day if you love something you have to stick to your guns, don t you In cases like this there is no better explanation than that we can t all like the same things I haven t read this story for years, so I decided to reread it expressly for the purpose of writing this review, it only takes about 30 minutes to read after all I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream is a an extremely bleak post apocalypse and dystopian story In the future depicted in this story, mankind is ruled by a demented and extremely cruel A.I overlord Mankind, in this case, consists of just five people one girl and four men, imprisoned underground within the mega computer itself The rest of humanity have already been wiped out by the crazed AI, the cause of its insanity is best left unrevealed here The five humans are saved by the AI for its sadistic amusement, to assuage its craving for revenge against mankind for a perceived mortal offense The five humans are tortured, debased and humiliated daily They are also kept alive and made practically immortal to prolong their suffering indefinitely.This is a horrifying and disturbing story My friend mentioned that the prose is leaden and I suppose it may be, but I find that Harlan Ellison s narrative packs a real punch The ending is particularly creepy and unforgettable I don t know what it says about me that I am in awe of such a nasty story, I just love stories that have a strong psychological or emotional impact It also raises the issue of our over reliance on technology, a theme it shares with E.M Forster s The Machine Stops, a muchgentle apocalypse There is also the matter of allowing our creation to go out of control for the sake of our greed or lust for power.If you want to read this classic sci fi story online just Google the title You will probably find it in a few seconds I doubt it is in the public domain so I d better not post a link At the risk of recommending something you will hate, I highly recommend this story I never learn Note I m just reviewing the one story, not the entire anthology in this book I don t have the book Sharing the LuvReligion, 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 Sharing the LuvReligion, 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 expressed in the act of creation But why such purportedly perfect love should be expressed in such an obviously flawed universe is left hanging in Christian doctrine The existence of physical and moral evil becomes a mystery without explanation Creation, then, literally lacks reason it is unreasonable Whatever intention there might be behind the whole thing is hidden within the divine mind We can only speculate So we tell ourselves stories.Love was a hot topic for stories in the 1960 s, a sort of background radiation of a disintegrating European religious culture Ellison hit the Hollywood big time in the 60 s, writing scripts for shows as diverse as Star Trek and The Flying Nun But he described himself asa troublemaker, malcontent, desperadoSo hardly one to conform with the lovey dovey sentimentality of either hippiedom or the mainstream media of the day I Have No Mouth is a pointed cultural protest, directed not toward the new technology but toward the old religion, particularly its pretensions about love.Ellison s AM is a global computer system which has created a new world and destroyed the species which enabled it except for five people with various degrees of disability It keeps these alive through a single motivation Hate AM s intention is the infliction of pain upon these people for eternity This intention is not arbitrary it is not without reason AM hates because it is isolated and lonely It has no occupation other than to torture the descendants of those who thought it up Their punishment will last as long as it does I Have No Mouth therefore is ratherculturally dense than it might first appear It is simultaneously a recognition of the rationale for the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, and its rejection as empirically unsustainable It also explains the reason why things are as bad as they are not because God has certain characteristics, but because the species that created God is itself fundamentally hateful a theme consistent throughout the collection Hey, it s a story Peace and luv, y all First Published In And Re Issued In , I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream Contains Seven Stories With Copyrights Ranging From Through 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 Edition Among Ellison S Famous Stories, Two Consistently Noted As Among His Very Best Ever Are The Title Story And The Volume S Concluding One, Pretty Maggie MoneyeyesSince Ellison Himself Strongly Resists Categorization Of His Work, We Won T Call Them Science Fiction, Or SF, Or Speculative Fiction Or Horror Or Anything Else Except Compelling Reading Experiences That Are Sui Generis They Could Only Have Been Written By Harlan Ellison And They Are Incomparably OriginalNTENT I Have No Mouth I Must Scream Big Sam Was My Friend Eyes Of Dust World Of The Myth Lonelyache Delusion For Dragonslayer Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes 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 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 progressivelyadvanced artificial intelligence that is also increasingly sadistic and insane Most of the time I thought of AM as it, without a soul but the rest of the time I thought of it as him, in the masculine the paternal the patriarchal for he is a jealous people Him It God as Daddy the Deranged There s a quest with a denouement that would be funny were it not so desperately cruel, interesting group dynamics under stress shades of Lord of the Flies, which I reviewed HERE or TV shows like Big Brother , and some philosophising Image Punchcode ITA2 for I think, therefore I am in English, used as a separator in the story God in the Machine, or God IS the Machine At first it meant Allied Mastercomputer, and then it meant Adaptive Manipulator, and later on it developed sentience and linked itself up and they called it an Aggressive Menace, but by then it was too late, and finally it called itself AM, emerging intelligence, and what it meant was I am cogito ergo sum I think, therefore I am On one occasion, AM even appears to them as a burning bush, as Yahweh did in Exodus 3 14, when he first declared, I am that I am.Image I am that I am, in Hebrew, from Wikepedia.For a very different outcome of an omnipotent machine controlling humans below the earth, see EM Forster s The Machine Stops, which I reviewed HERE TortureWhat drives a human to inflict endless cruelty on others, and what would drive an AI to it The answer seems to be impotent creativity AM could not wander, AM could not wonder, AM could not belong He could merely be I was reminded of Vonnegut s comic post apocalyptic masterpiece, Galapagos see my review HERE , whose message is that our big brains are the cause of all our troubles.For AM s victims, what s worse unbelievable physical pain, mental and bodily mutilation, not understanding the reasons, or having no way out, not even death Chekhov s short story, The Bet see my review HERE , asks which is preferable execution or life imprisonment But these five people don t have that choice They are immortal, but not quite indestructible Madness might be a blessed release, though it s one that Ted, the narrator, thinks he s avoided.Eternal damnation in a godless underworld CriticismsThere s a female character and she s black Yay for diversity Unfortunately not Her portrayal and how the others treat her, is a really unsavoury shallow stereotype, even allowing for what AM has done to her There s a gay character, too, and although his transformation is a sick inversion, that fits the story in a way that didn t feel demeaning to gay people in general The exposition of the backstory is horribly crass a favourite tale told and retold by one of the group to another who now has the mental capacity of a small child The solution didn t seem to fit with the rules of the world that Ellison created curious gaps in the enormous power, control, and insight that AM had BUT the ending itself did work Image Punchcode ITA2 for Cogito, ergo sum Latin , used as a separator in the story QuotesThe horror is sometimes revolting to read, but at other times, oxymoronically beautiful The chill, oily breeze We passed through a valley of obsolescence, filled with rusting carcasses of ancient computer banks Shades of the 23rd Psalm His eyes were two soft, moist pools of pus like jelly There was the smell of matted, wet fur in the cavern There was the smell of charred wood There was the smell of dusty velvet There was the smell of rotting orchids There was the smell of sour milk There was the smell of sulphur, of rancid butter, of oil slick, of grease, of chalk dust, of human scalps 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 Hate now slavered from every printed circuit.Inspiration for We finally April 2019 have Netflix, and the thing I most wanted to see was Black Mirror episodes that are Netflix only The first was USS Callister, which looks like a Star Trek spoof and it is, with a bit of Red Dwarf , but the whole plot, and one brief, specific event, is heavily inspired by this story But the humour made it slightly less horrific An excellent homage Image Episode graphic, from imdb 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 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 were an unreachable luxury to you No form of escape available to you for the nearest eternity What would you do if you were robbed of all free will, choice, human form, even the faculty to scream Apokalipsis at its scariest giving a brand new definition of hell No, HELL It will make you think and shudder 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 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 a teleporting interplanetary circus performer looking for his lost love After the first tale, I was surprised to find it a somewhat sweet tale.Eyes of Dust In a world where physical beauty is the norm, the two flawed people have a kid together who is doomed from the start Horrifying and not that far fetched.World of the Myth A ship crashes on a far off world and the three crew members encounter a hivemind of ant like creatures Horror ensues This one was another chilling tale in which the worst horror comes from within.Lonely Ache A lady s man think s there s a monster living in his apartment This was a dark tale and yet another horror story where the worst horror comes from inside.Delusion for a Dragon Slayer A guy gets hit with a wrecking ball and a lot of weird shit I had trouble sorting out happens Not a fan of this story.Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes A down and out gambler finds a slot machine that keeps hitting the jackpot for him This one reminded me of a Twilight Zone episode, complete with twist ending.My first Harlan Ellison experience was a good one Some of the stories seem like products of the time they were written, though, in regard to the way women and minorities were portrayed Ellison sure knew how to weave a short story Four out of five stars 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 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 humans alive so he can mess with them I also like the idea of a creepy ant like race who is part of a gestalt mind or something like that, a premise that takes a backseat to the tease and her rapist and the other guy who feels bad about the rape but not bad enough to do anything about it Each intriguing premise gets buried under all the hatred towards women Yuck.Edited in Feb 2013 to add For the record, this review is meant to be for the entire short story collection I Have No Mouth which includes but is not limited to the eponymous story It s interesting that all the contention seems to about that story specifically, when it isn t even the worst one in the collection in my opinion World of the Myth, I shake my fist at you.I re read IHNMIMS online just to see if maybe some of the commenters who feel I ve been unfair to this were on to something Maybe I was just going through a phase a year ago where my knee jerk reaction to everything was Misogyny Maybe this story wasn t as bad as I d remembered it Turns out it s not only just as gross as I recall, I also find it to be entirely uncompelling I m actually kind of astounded that so many people seem to find this to be such an amazing story since I found it to be really dated flat I struck the line from my original review in the interest of clarifying that fact that I m not trying to speak to Ellison s intent or his personal feelings towards women 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 before those things were rigged by apologist groups.Alrightly So I decided to write a review for this breathtaking, before its time short stor 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 before those things were rigged by apologist groups.Alrightly So I decided to write a review for this breathtaking, before its time short story mostly because I see some misconceptions regarding apparent misogyny That, and there will never be something like this again Harlan Ellison, a misogynist My country,South Africa, had one of the most liberal constitutions in the world when drafted in 1996 it included marriage to whichever adult you wished be they a different race or of the same sex unknown in most countries at the time , rights for people with disabilities, equal rights for all, despite race, age and gender However, our constitution is set up in such a way that you have a right and a responsibility that accompanies it One of our rights is the right to freedom of speech but the responsibility to be sensitive to others This is why our country has had terrible Canadian type court cases where anything considered hate speech can get the person behind bars, or at the least left with a hefty fine This, this is why this story resonates with me often, we have no mouth and must scream, because the society we live in does not allow freedom of speech.No, honey Go watch Dreams with Sharp Teeth, a biographical documentary delving into the mind of Mr Ellison Please look at the author themselves as well as the date of publication Roles of women and men were simply not the same as they are now 50 years ago This is a book that is a direct reflection of the times it was written in Hell, so is Vic and Blood But I have a lot to explain as to why this book isn t sexist And hell, if there are traces, it was written in the 60s Stop being offended by everything and man woman up you won t get through life with indignant or triggered written on your forehead If we continue to ignore books writtenthan 30 years ago because of any traces or commentary regarding racism, misogyny or xenophobia, we d probably have 3 books to read Secondly, this is a book regarding censorship in our past, future and present despite most countries laws regarding Freedom of Speech, many people are criticised and shut down for their views or outright banned from saying certain things Sound familiar North Korea, Extremist Liberal and Conservative movements and all the damn snowflakes.Why is This Book so Relevant Today One This mini magnum opus criticises its time the 60s where women were included in many masculine lines of workbegan to receive their own sexual freedom when MLK and the Black Panther group influenced the lives of African Americans forever Two It heavily critiques our arrogance at playing God and thinking that we can master not only machines, but other people.Three At its core, it concerns itself with how being trapped somewhere with four people for dozens of years will bring out our most primal needs and urges It shows how shocking we as humans can be, of our own volition The Plot, Characters and World building The Plot Frankenstein s Monster with a MotherboardThis short masterpiece takes place in the aftermath of World War III A Cold War breaks out yet again now including China, nice prediction Harlanof a superpower than any of the others but this time muchdeadly than any of the proxy wars of the 20th century Why Simply put, we messed with AI too much, that it thought it was God So instead of millions getting killed by troops ordered by politicians, all but five of the billions of people on earth are killed by an autonomous machine created by humans This Machine is named AM.World building3 AM super computers I think therefore I AM , were created by humans to intercept information from opposing countries as well as to improve war tactics AM s name slowly unfolds into a sinister, sentient being When it begins its sick games with the five surviving humans, we are introduced to a terrible world of temptation, hopelessness and evil with no way out Allied Master Computer the consultant Adaptive Manipulator the leader Aggressive Menace the dictator.Doesn t sound too different from humans, does it Character developmentWhen AM becomes the Aggressive Menace, it has developed sentience so much so that it pulls the plug on its sister computers It then seizes control of weapons and efficiently and ruthlessly stamps them out Because of its new found sentience, it realises that because of the efficient work of humans that let it to become self aware, it does not believe there is a reason to live What does AM do to make like bearable by making it unbearable for others It keeps five people five people with their own vices, and traps them in a virtual world indefinitely, torturing them but never allowing them to die Never if it could not escape its pain, he would not let the remaining humans do so AM knows exactly where to hit his test subjects home.Gorrister A man who carries the guilt of forcefully committing his wife to a mental institution Because of his guilt and his wish to forget, his heart is taken out by AM His guilt becomes his downfall but only as AM seems fit.Benny Benny is a gay man who used to be a scientist Because of the views of homosexuality being a mental illness at the time, AM in turn follows what his now dead creators taught him to correct Benny unethically into the impossible This is done by making him straight, well endowed, selfish and obsessive over eating However, he cannot chew food and his guilt still lingers regarding his sexuality.Ellen Ellen is maybe the most complex character in this book, and the only woman She was raped at a young age in a yellow walled house She fears the colour yellow and can therefore not snip AM s yellow wires and is also given a high libido by AM to do the very thing she does not want to do have sexual intercourse with horny maniacs made barbaric by AM However, she cannot help but enjoy it the ultimate suffering for a rape victim I think this reflects a lot upon how rape victims can develop a kind of apologist, Stockholm Syndrome or be dismissed regarding their fears.NimdokNimdok is an ex Nazi physician who is confined to a concentration camp by AM Nimdok, ironically, created the very serum that allowed AM to make all five of the characters immortal Ted An ex con artist and seducer of women, Ted s greatest fear is the discovery of his fraud as well as committing to a relationship He is maybe the sanest but most broken of all four, as he has dissociated himself from everything.Each character has a redemption arc I won t spoil it, but it is truly fitting and makes for an extremely satisfying read.ConclusionThis book delves into our primal fears and wants as well as our biggest failures This book is a horror It may have many elements of science fiction, but the gruesome nature of abuse and torment is too reminiscent of Richard Matheson or Stephen King if notso Ellison inspired King, and you can definitely see that here.Now I m not much for analysis, I truly believe AM is a reflection on our society Our society grows and develops, as if with a mind of its own It forces people into doing things they do not wish or eggs them on to do their worst and often has its ironies a man who smokes two packets of cigarettes a day may die of skin cancer or A person who finally finds their true love may lose him or her to a car crash the next day Life is sick, and we need to accept that This short story is, in a way, the love child of Flowers for Algernon and Frankenstein but with the darkest twist possible.Lastly, this hilarious and ironic quote really made my day, considering Ellison wrote episodes for Star Trek, mainly The City on the Edge of Forever Courtesy of Jen s maxi reviews 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 revengeI Have No Mouth, And Must Scream I Have No Mouth And I Must ScreamEight 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 I Have No Mouth And I Must ScreamEight 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 to you is a naked scream Not a shield, but an outlet for once the damage is done, an idle hope that somehow the pain coursing through your body will not remain there, but will be taken away, with the scream, into a world big enough to take it But there is no outlet The pain remains where it is and runs behind your fearful eyes with nowhere else to go but round and round and round Everything is dark and cold and pain and the only thing you hear is the scream stuck inside your head.So no, in case you were wondering, this is definitely not a happy book.I don t think I ve ever seen a stronger title than this one, so I think it deserved a special mention in this review It s the most defining element of this book because of all the dread it contains so efficiently Harlan Ellison didn t come up with this title himself It was an artist buddy of his who drew a cartoon of a puppet without a mouth and gave it this title Harlan must have seen the power of those words, sat down several years on it and waited for inspiration to come It came, and the story of AM, the Hatred Machine, and his five victims was born.Ellison s story tries to capture something that is within the title that a fleshed out story never could, I think, but his effort is commendable nonetheless Five people and one angry, all powerful machine torturing them for eternity Harlan Ellison definitely has a way with words in painting a picture of this setting, describing darkness in such a detailed way he uses half a page for it and coming up with means of torment with almost worrying ease And yet, somehow the story took a bit away of what the title conveyed for me and offered something instead hope.The first element of hope is that the five people being tortured by this machine, besides having each other as company, know they will survive They have survived forthan a hundred years in the machine s belly, and realize by now that they ll go on living indefinitely This means that when they are starving, in physical pain because of it, they not only have the hope, but the knowledge that at some point, food will be brought to them Disgusting food yes, but food nonetheless, and therefor, relief There is a woman in the group that has been psychologically altered so that the men can use her, with no hard feelings, even enjoyment from her side Again, relief Measly, but relief nonetheless And the ending, view spoiler while truly tragic, contains a salvation for many, and a memory of heroism to cling to for the other The one remaining is who the title refers to, but his story is largely left untold hide spoiler An addition I make to this review has been inspired by Pessoa s The Book of Disquiet , which made me realise what was missing in this book to make it a truly harrowing experience a profound psychological and philosophical element Ellison instead chose to speakdirectly to our physical senses On the other hand, I was reminded of the setting that was created in this book while reading Pessoa s notes on tedium and despair because Ellison s writing allows these dark ideas of desolation to take shape in the back of your mind, even though they do not appear directly in this story.Mind you, it s still a grim tale, with very little reason for smiles, but this story made me think about eternal torture in a positive way, to the extent that such a thing is possible The eternal doesn t really add anything to the misery, does it Torture doesn t have a future tense It all occurs in an inescapable here and now that always feels like eternity, no matter how short or long it lasts Yet the emphasis in this story is put on the eternal factor as an objective thing, which in this case made the experience weaker for me.This short story in particular came with three introductions and a memoir Quite a lot of talk I considered the story itself the chocolaty part and nibbled my way to it by eating the dry bits first An approach I d recommend for a second reading, but not a first First readings should be approached without having any idea as to what the writer really intended According to the memoir, Harlan made up the story as he went along, simply starting with a first sentence, not knowing where he d end up I think he did the same with his later interpretation view spoiler He smacked the label of selfless heroism latent in man s nature on it, but given the protagonist s paranoid state of mind, I m not entirely convinced this was also the original intention hide spoiler The correct interpretation probably largely depends on the author s mood, which swings as if we re still in the forties.The CollectionThis edition came with several other short stories and introductions which I ll discuss below The writer put a lot of himself in this book His picture on the cover Not a coincidence When you open the book, you look inside of Harlan Ellison s mind He s a supremely honest writer, but not necessarily a likable one Be that as it may, this book is Harlan Ellison, and whenever a person pours so much of himself into a book, he merits five stars The memoir and many of the introductions are used as a means for this author to tell us how great he is and how miserable he has been He uses them to give us an overview of all the awards he has won, all the publications he appeared in, the magazines he worked with A glorified CV He uses it to settle scores with people who didn t like him and to mutter silent thanks to the people who believed in his talents as much as he did For him, having no mouth would surely be hell, because the man obviously likes to scream and stir things up He likes to be the bad guy Harlan Ellison wants to be a phenomenon He described himself as phenomenally lucky in casino games Just one line pointing to how self delusional he can be nobody can have Lady Luck as a girlfriend and keep her long enough to boast about it But he succeeded in becoming a phenomenon probably because I ve rarely encountered someone who wanted to be one so hard , something for which he deserves the credit he so obviously desires The introductions, which the author aptly calls writer to reader liaisons, really added something to this collection, despite the many personal scores that get settled They re also artistically well done, having the introductory texts flow neatly into the title after the flip of a page, giving a very smooth experience Even though this author apparently dislikes interpretations, I m going to give it a go anyway and describe the other short stories with the meanings I got out of them Aside from Delusion of a Dragon slayer , which I found the best story of this collection, I d rate most stories three stars None of them are bad, some of them are too wordy, some of them too forgetable, but all carry something of value in them Eyes of DustObsession with beauty is ugly.Big Sam was my FriendEven teleporters need to die in order to get passage to Heaven.World of MythConfronting yourself is a bad idea if you re a rapist.Lonelyache another very strong title, this one Fixing loneliness isn t just a matter of surrounding yourself with people It s about being able to look a teddybear straight in the eye without hating yourself Delusion of a Dragon SlayerHeaven is dreams, special dreams, in which you exist What you have to do is live up to themwhich is a quote of the story Pretty Maggie MoneyeyesA woman s charm can turn into a man s cage.Some of these stories were written in between painful divorces, in case you couldn t tell 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 minutesconsiderat 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 minutesconsideration, my feeling is that it would hardly affect things at all In fact, we ve already seen that version it s Forster s equally famous and equally depressing The Machine Stops So it seems we aren t particularly worried about the torture, just about the machines having power over us And in both stories, there s only one escape, death.Shaken by this apparently ironclad logic, I was about to despair and kill myself, but luckily I remembered just in time that Nick Park s A Close Shave offers a positive solution to this particular nightmare We need not abandon hope yet Phew.Now, what I need is a nice cup of tea

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