I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream (Short Story)

What Is It?

The video above is an audiobook version of the 1967 post-apocalyptic science fiction horror short story I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison:

I Have no Mouth and I Must Scream – Harlan Ellison (audiobook)
I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream – The End of the Apocalypse – Extra Sci Fi

This is how Wikipedia describes this short story:

In a dystopian future, the Cold War has degenerated into a brutal world war between the United States, the Soviet Union, and China, who have each built an “Allied Mastercomputer” (or AM) to manage their weapons and troops.

One of the AMs eventually acquires self-awareness and, after assimilating the other two AMs, takes control of the conflict, giving way to a vast genocide operation that almost completely ends mankind.

109 years later, AM has left only four men and one woman alive and keeps them in captivity within an endless underground housing complex, the only habitable place left on Earth.

AM derives its sole semblance of pleasure from torturing the group.

To disallow the humans from escaping its torment, AM has rendered the humans virtually immortal and unable to commit suicide.

The machines are each referred to as “AM”, which originally stood for “Allied Mastercomputer”, but was changed to “Adaptive Manipulator” and later (after gaining sentience) “Aggressive Menace”.

It finally refers to itself as purely “AM”, referring to the phrase “I think, therefore I am.”

My Thoughts

I learned of this short story probably over a year ago thanks to a YouTube video called I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream – The End of the Apocalypse – Extra Sci Fi by the YouTube channel Extra Credits.

It seemed unique and gloomy and scary, and so I decided to try to find an audiobook of it yesterday.

Unfortunately, my library did not have it, but I did find it on YouTube.

It was not long, so I decided to listen to it so that I could finally finish a book for the first time since 2020.

I listened to it at 1.50 x speed while I was walking outside after jogging.

This was a unique gloomy and surprisingly poetic read, like I predicted, the ending lines were the title of this short story.

It ended in a way that left a certain feeling, it leaves a certain impact, and not a positive one.

This is not a positive story, it is a bit of a cautionary tale perhaps, and it is gloomy / depressing / scary / et cetera.

It is like reading about a terrible, never-ending nightmare that someone is trapped inside of.

This story is definitely not for kids, but it is worth a read or a listen, in my case.

I would rate it a 3.5 – 4 out of 5.

The end,

  • John Jr

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