"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
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
"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.
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.