Sunday, November 11, 2012

Book of Questions

I've recently finished the short story collection named I have no Mouth, and I must scream by Harlan Ellison. The titular short story was adapted into an adventure game for PC that I played a long time ago, at the time it prompted me to read what turned out to be a heavily edited version of that story.

On a William Gibson spending spree however I saw that Amazon was recommending this collection too, so I picked it up. I am glad I did.

The collection contains a number of short stories each introduced by the author himself and this adds a context, a reality to what otherwise is absolute fantasy. You learn a lot as you traverse the pages but each story also opens questions that are never answered, but the point of his work is clearly never to answer any questions, it's to punch holes in things that we thought we were sure of. To make us question the unquestionable.

Have no mouth is an example of that, where an AI becomes abhorred with humanity. Despising it so much to perpetrate the existence of a collection of souls so as to torture them eternally, the relationship of man and god and master and slave is questioned. I often picture AI as something that would be far away and emotionless but what if Ellison's example is right, if you grant something the ability to think are you intrinsically giving it the ability to hate.

One story punched me harder than the rest however, hitting me somewhere that I clearly needed to feel weakness. Somewhere that I thought I would be impervious. Delusion for a Dragon Slayer is a story about a normal guy, living out his normal life until an event occurs that throws him into a world of dreams.

I won't provide a synopsis but I think I may steal its sentiment. The guy finds that it doesn't matter how grand ones dreams are, he must be worthy of them or he still then has nothing. That hit me, made me realize I had this mad idea in my head that grand dreams are something great in themselves. Ellison made me see that they aren't something I own, merely something I bring myself to face and if I'm not worthy of them. Well.

Great collection of stories, I highly recommend them.

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