Short story: “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream”

by look i have opinions

“I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream,” by Harlan Ellison

Appeared in the March 1967 issue of If: Worlds of Science Fiction (now defunct); won the Hugo Award in 1968

Slightly over 5,809 words (my guess was relatively close this time—5,000)

I’ve always admired this story as a small, concentrated dose of pure horror. It’s also quite funny. Like a lot of funny-horribles, it resembles a well-told joke.

(I say this kind of thing a lot. I guess I’m trying to develop a taxonomy of fictions. Probably futile. Most stories have similar structures; some use them more baldly than others.)

I think Ellison described the ending as an ethically happy one. The main character is in Hell, but he has fulfilled his duty to his fellow creatures.