Tuesday, January 24, 2017

I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream: Review

I was in junior high school when I first discovered Harlan Ellison. I brought home Deathbird Stories from the public library. I was immediately affronted, confronted, confused, delighted, amazed, intrigued, and literally thrown for a loop. Ellison has a way of doing that to you. And he offers no apologies for it. He is loud and brash and in your face. I've said in previous reviews of his work that Ellison isn't for everyone. He's not a safe read. His work is guaranteed to shake you up and make you examine yourself and your world in new ways....and to my mind, that's a good thing. Particularly in the days we're living in now. There are a lot of people who could use a good shaking up. But that's a discussion for another time....

I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison (1967) is a collection of seven short stories by a master of the genre. The stories range from cautionary tales about where our computerized gadgets may take us to being careful what kind of heaven you wish for. He also gives us stories about love--but not the happily-ever-after kind; these are the kind that could cost you your life...or more. He comments on lust and luck and the ugliness that can sit in the midst of beauty. Another terrific collection from Ellison. ★★★★

The stories:
"I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream": When mankind builds supercomputers to do their fighting for them, they shouldn't be surprised that when the computer minds blend together and become sentient then it doesn't look to kindly on its creator.  A cautionary tale about man's intentions backfiring on him. But also...a tale of sacrifice. The narrator gives up (and endures) quite a bit to save his companions.

"Big Sam Was My Friend": Big Sam is especially gifted in the world of gifted circus performers. He's a teleporter who can move from place to place in the blink of an eye. He's on a search for his lost love...a search that will cost him just as much as the narrator of the titular story.

"Eyes of Dust": What does a world of perfect beauty do with the "ugly" offspring of two flawed individuals? The answer probably isn't too surprising....

"World of the Myth": Three space travelers are marooned on a plant inhabited by creatures with a hive mind. A mind that can reveal each traveler's true self to them. Can the traveler's survive once they know the truth about themselves?

"Lonely Ache": Paul is visited by horrible nightmares--men are sent to kill him and he must kill or be killed. But the worst nightmare is the soft brown staring creature he believes is living in his room. Again...the projections of the inner self can be the most dangerous of all.

"Delusion for a Dragon Slayer": Another cautionary tale that tells us that we all make our own heaven (or hell) when we die. But--having devised the perfect paradise we may forget that we're the ones who have to live up to it.

"Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes": A man down to his last silver dollar finds the slot machine of every gambler's dreams--jackpots every time. But the final payout may not be quite what he planned.

1 comment:

Katherine Nabity said...

Yeah, I think some Ellison rereading is in my future this year.