Emily Reads Horror – SHORT STORY – IHNMAIMS (Harlan Ellison)


Guess who’s back with a brand new… horror reading.

And as I’ve mentioned in the video description, it is impossible to fit the whole title of the story into the title section, both here and on YouTube. “I Have No Mouth And I must Scream” is not only an intriguing (and very long) title, but also the trope namer on TV Tropes for a particular state of being. A kind of ultimate, inescapable horror.

Cheerful, innit?

The first time I read it, I had a vague sense of the hell the five characters are placed in. But, as is often the case, I didn’t entirely get it until I read the thing aloud. Ted, Nimdok, Gorrister, Benny and Ellen have been stuck inside the computer, being tortured, for 109 years straight. One hundred and nine! (Presumably, AM keeps them all updated. I like to think that he runs on Mac’s operating system so that he can make regular musical announcements.) I was also impressed with the way AM tortures them, i.e. thoroughly, mercilessly, and for the most part, sans explanation. In fact, I couldn’t be sure that AM’s infamous ‘hate speech’ isn’t just the product of Ted’s paranoia and frustration.

That hate speech, by the way, was my favourite part to record. It took me a while to figure out exactly how AM should sound. In the IHNMAIMS video game, Harlan Ellison himself voices the computer, and that version is available here. It’s pretty expressive and human-sounding. When it came time to do my own version, I went for… hm, how can I put this?… a cross between GLaDOS and Voldemort. The latter put a bit of a strain on my voicebox, and I had to edit out more than one coughing fit.

But as usual, I’m not entirely happy with the finished reading. Ted’s character is probably American, but I’m sure we’ve all had enough of my trying to do that, so I didn’t. I also believe that the characters’ anguish didn’t come across, and that’s entirely my fault. You lovely people, please go ahead and tell me that I’m crap at reading horror and should focus on other things, if that’s how you feel.

What else can I say about this short story? Hm. Well, I thought it a little odd that in 109 years, it was never possible for the characters to die, and then in a singular moment where AM is distracted, four of them manage it. And it’s not even obliteration at a molecular level, which is what Ted seems to be suggesting at some point: “immortal but not indestructible”. Maybe that’s just what my take on it was, I don’t know.

Anyway! Interesting story. I recommend it. If you have anything else you’d like me to read, go ahead and let me know. And thanks as always for being here. Looooooooooooooove you.




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