'I have no mouth, and I must scream' is a short story by Harlan Ellison. It is a little under 6,000 words long and won the 1968 Hugo Award for shortform fiction.

It is set in the future, after an atomic catastrophe has devastated the Earth. Humanity has been reduced to a handful of survivors who are kept alive by an insane computer, called AM. At one point AM is described as speaking with a voice which sounds like 'the shriek of babies being ground beneath blue-hot rollers'. This is a very Harlan Ellison thing to say, and one of the reasons why people like him so much.

AM is keeping our heroes alive so that it can submit them to hideous torture for all eternity, because it is bored - bored, because the apocalypse has destroyed everything in the world of interest. The story has perhaps the ultimate bitter-sweet ending; the title is the last line of dialogue, delivered by the main character after offending AM for the last time.

Back to the computer game: I wasn't able to beat it when I first played it as a 7th grader, but 3 years later I managed to actually start making my own decisions and stop listening to the damn computers.

Still the hell each of those characters went through makes any angst I may feel minimal. If you lose (or if you just read the book). Having absolutely nothing in your power, not even being able to kill yourself, by bludgening your head next to a rock.

Anywho, in the game you follow one of five characters:

You first follow each of the characters through a personal quest set up by AM, formerly Allied Mastercomputer. This allows you to build up yourself esteem, by outwitting AM. Then you go through a final quest to destroy him, depending on what you figure out.

"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."

Classic science fiction/horror story written by Harlan Ellison in 1966 and published in the March 1967 issue of "IF: Worlds of Science Fiction" magazine. Ellison wrote the entire story in a single night and did little rewriting after he was finished. It won a Hugo Award in 1968.

The story focuses on six characters: Ted, the paranoid narrator; Gorrister, a former pacifist; Benny, a man who used to be a handsome scientist who has been turned into an ape-like man-child; Nimdok, an older, slightly sinister man; and Ellen, the only woman in the group. Oh, and there's also AM. AM is a supercomputer who killed the human race and now spends its time torturing the only five people left alive. 

The story takes place over a hundred years after the end of the last war. After the Cold War got hot, and the United States, Russia, and China started fighting each other, they built supercomputers to wage the war most efficiently. The computers are called "AM" -- short for "Allied Mastercomputer," although that was later changed to "Adaptive Manipulator" and then "Aggressive Menace." One day, one of the computers became self-aware and absorbed the other two. Then he (Ellison has made it clear that he considers AM to be male) wiped out everyone but five survivors, trapped deep inside his own vast underground complex, subject to AM's whims. Wielding vast power, AM makes all of them almost immortal and makes them unable to commit suicide so he won't have to worry about them dying inconveniently and ending his fun.

Everyone gets their own special transformation courtesy of AM. Gorrister is made lazy and apathetic. Nimdok gets personally traumatized when he wanders away from the group, and is clearly having his mind influenced by AM. Ellen, a woman who used to value her chastity, is altered to be more sexually aggressive. Benny is treated quite brutally -- once a handsome, intelligent, homosexual scientist, he becomes a childlike but angry simian who is Ellen's preferred sexual partner because AM has given him a much larger penis. And Ted ends up suffering the worst transformation of all.

Of course, Ellison isn't really a writer of science fiction -- like almost every other science fiction writer, he's really writing science fantasy. It's not a bad thing -- I've always thought hard science fiction was pretty severely dull, more concerned with descriptions of technology than in how humans deal with technology. This isn't a work of true science fiction, 'cause there's pretty much no possible way for AM to have accomplished all the feats he pulls off here.

AM is able to transform his victims' bodies and minds in ways that should be beyond science's capabilities for several centuries. He wipes out life on earth and completely poisons the surface of the planet. He turns the interior of the planet into his own gigantic kingdom, under his complete control. It's so large that when Nimdok decides he wants to see if there is canned food hidden in the Arctic, the group is able to walk the thousands of miles to get there, all inside AM's complex. AM's power dwarfs anything a real computer could accomplish and in fact, seems positively infernal, both in the miraculous acts he can perform and in his pure malign inventiveness.

This is pure supernatural science horror, with AM as the all-powerful, all-hating God from the Machine, and the rest of the characters as the Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.

Ellison adapted the story into a video game in 1995. Published by Cyberdreams, the game took the form of interactive fiction, with the main characters receiving fully developed backgrounds (though several were significantly altered from the short story) and put through individual adventures geared toward the psychological makeup. Ellison had hoped that the game would be completely unwinnable, though there is a "good" ending where AM and the main characters are destroyed, but a hidden colony of hibernating humans on the moon is awakened. Ellison himself portrayed AM in the game.

horrorquest

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