I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wondering whether to read early Harlan Ellison is a complete no-brainer. I admit to avoiding Harlan for most of my life despite calling myself a master fan... but why? Oh, the several reasons seemed good at the time, like I prefer novels over short stories and it's such an investment in time and Hey, isn't that the guy always surrounded by controversy and you either hate him or love him and sometimes waffle in the same day?
Well. Haberdash. His writing is what counts. I've been asinine and idiotic.
So here I am, falling off the wagon and reading whole short story collections, starting with his earliest, and you know what?
OMG THIS IS SO AWESOME!
I mean, sure, I read a few of these classics before, like I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream and A Boy and his Dog and I've heard of even more, but I didn't quite realize that every single story is as playful as his most well-known.
I'm surprised to not like the titular story as much as all the rest, but it was still quite fun to see a planetary AI torture the last humans.
Moving on to the lighter and fun stuff, Laugh Track really set me back and made me go... ooooh COOL. :) Some heady SF ideas here, but most importantly... it's LIVELY AS HELL. :) Quicksilver, even.
The same is true for most, but not all. Ticktock and Harlequin is trippy as hell.
And Harlan's favorite story of all, Grail, is maybe not the lightest one of the bunch, but it IS the most interesting intellectually. :) Tons of ideas, history, religions, and heart went into this one, culminating in perhaps one of the most stimulating sex stories to be handed down through the ages. :)
I loved The Very Last Day of a Good Woman because it shocked me. A great avant-garde snub piece. :)
The Time of the Eye had the same feel, aiming more for the bashing over our heads kind of twist that was so GREAT about A Boy and His dog and Good Woman. :)
In all, I was laughing and being creeped out and enjoying just how much of our modern culture and SF markets can be traced from this acerbic and fearless collection.
Truly. I am an idiot to have put this off for so long.
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