Talk:I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream

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Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment[edit]

This article was the subject of a Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment, between 27 January 2021 and 11 May 2021. Further details are available on the course page. Student editor(s): Chimericmacandcheese. Peer reviewers: HLPickard, Fabiolabaeza465, WillKBeatty.

Above undated message substituted from assignment by PrimeBOT (talk) 00:11, 17 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Initial text[edit]

why does am hate the humans — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:31, 14 March 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Answer: AM was created to manage the Third World War, which had become incredibly complex and impossible for humans to properly manage. AM was given data on how to kill humans, but was unable to put its vast amount of knowledge to any productive use. In its anger, he killed all of the human race save five (why it chose them is uncertain) so that it could finally have the ability to act upon its knowledge and create ways to torture humans. It should be noted that AM is not the most rational of personalities. AM could just as easily have taken a suitable genetic cross-section of humanity and instilled itself as a god to be appeased and have all the fun it wanted while not needing to keep his toys alive forever. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:46, 29 July 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Deaths by consent[edit]

Sign your posts, folks. Shouldn't it be emphasized that Ted's actions at the end take place with the consent, or at least appreciation, of his compatriots? Ellen helps by killing Nimdok before Ted kills her...their deaths served to infuriate AM, which delights Ted, but also freed the other humans from their tortured existence. Russell 18:34, 18 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yes indeed. Go for it! --Nuffle 15:47, 19 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ellen's race[edit]

I don't remember the color of her skin being mentioned in the story. Is it possible this was also from the computer game, just like the quote? Jackkoho (talk) 20:31, 29 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

From the story: "Ellen's face, black against the white snow, dominoes in chalk dust." So while her race isn't explicit, her skin color is. Luigihann (talk) 20:34, 1 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That could be figurative, indicating an emotion like rage, although I find that unlikely in context. However, the story also mentions "her ebony features", which seals it. Kjetilho (talk) 22:05, 30 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ellison himself has said Ellen is black. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2601:4C0:8080:785:9963:CC4B:1C33:94E1 (talk) 23:33, 25 April 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Given quote about AM's hate towards humanity is from computer game, not from short story. ghoul 08:51, 29 January 2008 (UTC +02:00)

I'm removing the quote. I just read the story and its not in there. Jackkoho (talk) 20:27, 29 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

AM went into my mind. He walked smoothly here and there, and looked with interest at all the pock marks he had created in one hundred and nine years. He looked at the cross-routed and reconnected synapses and all the tissue damage his gift of immortality had included. He smiled softly at the pit that dropped into the center of my brain and the faint, moth-soft murmurings of the things far down there that gibbered without meaning, without pause. AM said, very politely, in a pillar of stainless steel bearing bright neon lettering:
"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 wafer thin printed circuits that fill my complex. If the word hate was engraved on every 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."
Rzrscm (talk) 00:20, 19 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't know what version of the story you read, some online (illegal?) versions are incomplete (missing the punchcode, for instance). The quote does appear in the book "Science Fiction: A Historical Anthology". I'd provide links but I'm not sure that's allowed. It isn't terribly difficult to find, though. Also note that in some online versions the quote appears as an image, therefore you can't simply perform a text search (actually there's a link to it in the talk section about online text). I think it's a powerful quote and it's a shame to remove it. Bokskar (talk) 00:36, 2 May 2014 (UTC)BokskarReply[reply]

Online text[edit]

Would anyone have a link to this story available on the internet to post on this article? I have searched and cannot find one. 21:57, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

Probably that's because of potential copyright infringement. - Jack's Revenge 22:28, 21 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You can still view the text with - (talk) 11:21, 9 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Shouldn't there be a segment on interpretations or would that be a bit much? DrWho42 01:03, 28 April 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That is a good idea; we'd just need to find some appropriate sources to avoid original research or such. The review of the story on Ellison's website is a good start [1] , but I haven't found any more. --Phoenix-forgotten 02:56, 3 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I personally was struck by the parallels between the computer "AM" and YHWH "I Am". I seek verifiable references that echo this interpretation. As it is, the article is dry and lacking in such connections. What about the connection with the Terminator series? The movie credits Ellison. It would be great to add this connection as well, in verifiable form. 00:50, 5 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The above comments are from some years ago but it would be nice for this article to include some more information on the connections between AM's name and the Biblical "I am," as well as Ted's description of AM as being fatherly and patriarchal, suggesting the Christian God the Father. 14 Feb 2021


Where did the info that HE "created it in a single night" come from? In the intoduction to the story in the book named for it, he says that it took a year and a half. 00:10, 24 May 2006 (UTC)anonymous passerby

Its in his introduction rant from The Voice From the Edge audiobook series. (talk) 07:50, 4 February 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Spoiler Warning?[edit]

Should we put a spoiler warning on the plot summary? I don't know the policy behind this with short stories.Andrew zot 09:50, 1 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm against this because I don't like spoiler warnings but also because it's a well known story, readily available online. If anyone was searching for it, they would easily be able to find a full copy somewhere long before finding this wikipedia article. Anyone searching specifically for this article would most likely have already read the story and be looking for more information, rather than looking for a plot summary. Axem Titanium 12:56, 1 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Teacher fired for teaching this...[edit]

In 1976, Kathryn Merrick, a high school teacher in Winifred, Montana, gave "I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream" as an assignment to her students. The Winifred School Board fired her. Kathy Merrick was forced to leave town.

(From this link) Personally, I think this mention ould go great this article and hopefully we could expand on this. DrWho42 08:33, 15 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

If that happened today.. <shiver> I can see it turning into some multi-million dollar psychological-distress civil suit.. Not that I'd disagree at all. Hmm, that might make an interesting basis for an episode of Law And Order: SVU.. (Anybody know Dick Wolf personally?)
I managed to find this on Google News: [2]:
Firing Of Teacher Investigated. WINIFRED - The firIng of teacher Kathryn Merrick by the Winifred School Board is under investigation by the Montana Education Association, the Human Rights ...
But I don't know how to go further than that on Google News - is there a "per-view micro-payment" system or something, or is an unreadable GIF image all that Google can give us for a cultural archive of the late twentieth century? Jimw338 (talk) 01:16, 26 February 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It appears that the whole story is intact on the link you provided. Is there something more that you wanted from it? Axem Titanium (talk) 14:38, 26 February 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Disambiguation Page[edit]

I think there should be one simply so that people wouldn't be sent to the wrong version of I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream.. Aside from this, there's the computer game and the anthology. DrWho42 23:53, 30 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Does the anthology have its own article? Axem Titanium 00:33, 31 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Not as of yet, but it is listed under the Harlan Ellison article as well as being under the link A review on the short story. DrWho42 00:38, 31 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Maybe I'm going crazy but I don't see it. At any rate, an "anthology" would seem to imply that it would be little different than the original text, meaning it probably wouldn't warrant its own article. And since the game is already linked at the bottom of the page, a disambiguation page doesn't seem necessary at the moment. Axem Titanium 00:58, 31 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
By "anthology", I refer unto the collection of short-storeys that also includes the short-storey as well as others: Big Sam was My Friend, Eyes of Dust, World of the Myth, Lonelyache, Delusion for a Dragon Slayer, and Pretty Maggie Monkeyeyes. I was wondering about this since it was listed under Harlan Ellison's short stories collections and the link leading to the supposed collection led to this short-storey. DrWho42 07:00, 3 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You can create that article if you'd like and have a blurb at the top of this page linking there. I still don't think a disambiguation page is necessary, since all three are about basically the same thing. Axem Titanium 00:48, 4 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Is it just me, or is Collosus: The Forbin Project basically a direct rip-off of this story, re-set in a more palatable setting? Certainly the genesis of AM appears to be largely identical to the collaboration that leads to Collosus's intellect. Maury 21:18, 6 October 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Does this qualify as dystopian? The story is told entirely after the collapse of society. I would call it post-apocalytic, but not dystopian. G8bluSti 21:31, 13 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Truth. However, it could be argued that AM is the ultimate ruler of this new (albeit tiny) society. Hence why this was originally classed as dystopian fiction, I believe. No matter how bad the cnditions of the world are; they are still ruled by a single, authoritarian force. 'Post-apocalytic' fiction more commonly features a setting where all organisation has completely collapsed and only tiny groups of separate factions live on. The world depicted in the book is a sole one, controlled by very strict and absurd rules under the command of a 'dictator'. Melaisis (talk) 20:23, 10 April 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Calling five people a "society" is stretching the term to the breaking point. So no, this story doesn't depict any variety of *topia. Clayhalliwell (talk) 19:11, 11 April 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You seem to have entirely missed the point that these people are being totally controlled by a supreme, malevolent dictator (albeit a machine). Furthermore, the group still appears to have society-like functions. They have a de facto leader, and even a 'prostitute'. Just because it is suggested the book takes place following an event on an apocalyptic scale does not mean this is a post-apocalyptic novella, well, not in tone (albeit it in time). You might as well call the setting of such stories as that in Æon Flux 'post-apocalyptic' and, by extension, such communities as those in Lost by this logic. Dystopian. Melaisis (talk) 16:45, 18 April 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I didn't miss the point, I considered it and rejected it. A miniscule social structure does not a society make. Clayhalliwell (talk) 19:17, 18 April 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

William Rostler's Drawing Needed[edit]

Supposedly this story was based on a drawing, but no drawing is provided. This needs to be linked or posted within the entry. I am unable to find it though! Please get this up ASAP if you have any luck finding it. The13thzen 16:19, 29 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

UPDATE: Found a pic: Don't know how to get it onto the page though. If someone with the know-how can do it. That'd be great. Extremely relevant to this work!

Thanks for the link, I enjoyed seeing that. As you probably realise, it can't be copied to Wikipedia or included on the page itself due to copyright, but I added a hyperlink to it at the appropriate spot. Kjetilho (talk) 22:18, 30 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The current plot section is very poorly written and contains numerous errors. --anonymous, date unspecified

An anonymous user with the IP address seems a bit insistent that their version of the last paragraph of the plot summary stay. I think this version is rather clumsy, which is why I amended it in the first place. Since there is disagreement over this part of the article, let's open discussion. I think it could benefit greatly from a complete rewrite, and some tidying at the very least (especially the last paragraph). Aidalgol (talk) 08:54, 13 February 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

AM's talkfields[edit]

I have added a section on the translation of AM's talkfields. Given that these messages have often been misprinted, if anyone out there has a copy of the first version of The Essential Ellison (1991), I think it would be useful to post picture scans of the two different messages so that people with other, misprinted, editions can see how the author originally intended them.--Samwiseuk (talk) 13:06, 29 April 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The new section is great, but it's completely out of sequence. The reader has no idea who or what AM is when she encounters it. I moved it to the end. I also included AM in the list of characters, which suffered from the same problem. —johndburger 02:35, 1 May 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I obtained scans of the original talkfields, as Harlan intended and have added them to the article to fully illustrate this section.--Samwiseuk (talk) 20:44, 28 May 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

you guys are awesome — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:56, 2 December 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Shouldn't it be mentioned that James Cameron based the character of Skynet on AM, and Ellison recieved a writing credit in the film The Terminator. --Dark_Wolf101 00:32, 7 June 2009 (UTC)

His writing credit is due to the plot being taken from two episodes he wrote for The Outer Limits...And he only got the credit after a lawsuit. I haven't heard anything about Skynet being based on AM, so unless you can find a reliable source for reference, then it shouldn't be mentioned. rzrscm (talk) 08:41, 23 July 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

how much of Skynet did he base on AM? i can't see any resemblences except for the idea of a self aware machine. yes, both attacked humanity but Skynet's attack was due to paranoia and was cleverly worked out, while AM just went mad. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:03, 18 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

There's no resemblance because Skynet wasn't based on AM...The idea of omnipotent computers is one of the most common themes in Science Fiction and has been around for a long time. rzrscm (talk) 20:53, 18 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Funny ... I hadn't seen the OL eps at the time The Terminator came out, but I had read the story, and it seemed to me that there was something clearly derived from it (powerful, sentient supercomputer becomes self-aware and destroys most of humanity). That's the first thing I thought of when I saw Ellison's credit at the end.

AM's "HATE" speech also seems to me to be echoed in Agent Smith's speech to Larry Fishburne ("I even smell like you) near the end of The Matrix. Daniel Case (talk) 14:22, 18 September 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Eh, but AM and Skynet had two distinct personalities...I personally can't see the resemblance, but I've also seen and read a lot of science fiction dealing with the same subject. It could be true, but we need a reliable source to add it to the article. rzrscm (talk) 21:22, 19 September 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply] I don't think this is a reliable source, but this is all I can find that mentions it. rzrscm (talk) 21:31, 19 September 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The Game Paranoia[edit]

I wonder how much the writers of the game Paranoia were influenced by this story. The computer in Paranoia has a lot more people to work with/torment but the general idea is not all that dissimilar. (talk) 03:24, 16 August 2009 (UTC)Will in New Haven76.28.103.69 (talk) 03:24, 16 August 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Revert modification of Punchcode Tape Messages quotation by Harlan Ellison.[edit]

I have reverted this anonymous modification to the Harlan Ellison quotation regarding the Punchcode Tape Messages:

06:14, 10 April 2009 (talk) (14,624 bytes) (→AM's talkfields - Punchcode Tape Messages) (undo)

Given what the quotation is actually talking about, it's somewhat ironic that the modification was made.

You cannot modify a quotation just because you're offended by a swear word. If there is a problem with using the word in a Wikipedia entry, the quotation should be removed not altered. My personal opinion is that Harlan's original quotation is fine and to alter it is somewhat juvenile.

Harlan's strong views against unauthorised modifications of his words and work are, btw, commonly known.

Samwiseuk (talk) 11:56, 19 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

One of the ten most reprinted stories[edit]

Do we have any better source that the introduction to the computer game - "Based on Harlan Ellison's short stroy "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream", one of the ten most reprinted stories in the English language" -

Even if it was true then, is it still the case ? -- Beardo (talk) 16:23, 12 February 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I did a bit of research on this and found this link: This lists "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream" as one of the top ten most reprinted stories in Science Fiction anthologies, last updated 2008. I'm wondering if an earlier version of this list is what the game company was referring to; in any case, this should suffice as a more suitable reference, as long as the entry data is edited. (talk) 03:10, 6 December 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm removing this claim from the article as all other googlable references point to wikipedia or parrot it and the one we have included (a CDROM website) is dubious at best. Once a good reference is found feel free to add it back in Cshay (talk) 07:59, 4 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Star Trek Voyager episode "The Thaw"[edit]

Does anyone have a valid citation for the basing of the ST Voyager "The Thaw" on this? (The question of a valid citation is also posted on the Talk page for the episode on the Wikia page about the episode, [[3]]) Jimw338 (talk) 00:05, 13 September 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Misogyny controversies[edit]

I think that it may be worthwhile to include a section about accusations that Ellison's descriptions of Ellen as being a "slut", etc. are misogynistic. These concerns are a big reason that I'm seeing readers who otherwise found the book to be a compelling and good, albeit disconcerting, read totally shun it. Whether or not we may agree with those readers, I think that acknowledging these concerns of misogyny is an important and very worthwhile part of conversations about this book and its representations of themes and characters. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Qwertygirl123 (talkcontribs) 08:43, 14 February 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I want to scream but I have no sound[edit]

"Why? " "Because I am god already: who am I supposed to call to?" "The past! You have anti-time-technology. T.o.E. ist a pun: a sandal is a lousy cover for a toe. That´s what that hype about shoe makers is all about. " 2A0A:A548:699F:0:A090:CB45:F145:16BB (talk) 07:49, 11 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Did you know nomination[edit]

The following is an archived discussion of the DYK nomination of the article below. Please do not modify this page. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page (such as this nomination's talk page, the article's talk page or Wikipedia talk:Did you know), unless there is consensus to re-open the discussion at this page. No further edits should be made to this page.

The result was: rejected by BlueMoonset (talk) 06:17, 30 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Article does not qualify for DYK; closing as unsuccessful.

Created by Gøøse060 (talk). Self-nominated at 03:13, 27 November 2022 (UTC).Reply[reply]

  • Gøøse060, articles nominated for DYK must, within the past seven days, be either new, newly expanded fivefold, or newly passed as a Good Article. None of these are true—indeed, there is no recent expansion of any kind, and you haven't made any contributions to the article, much less created it. I strongly suggest you read up on DYK to understand what is required to nominate an article, should you wish to make a future nomination. Best of luck! BlueMoonset (talk) 05:56, 27 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]