|The Great Round Jelly Thing
|Slow down there, BUSTER. If you've never read Harlan Ellison's famously sadistic short
story "I Have no Mouth and I Must Scream" and would like to read a famously sadistic
short story without having the sadistic surprise spoiled for you, click here to read it
online, it's public domain!
For the rest of you who don't care about spoilers or already know the twist, let's all show
some appreciation for the great round jelly thing, A.K.A. the final form of Ted. I Have no
Mouth tells the story of a bizarre and hellish post-apocalyptic world ruled by AM, a
computer so powerful that it has a god-like control over reality within its domain.
Unfortunately, that domain is limited to the planet Earth, and to AM, it's a prison so
maddeningly tiny that it hates mankind for creating it at all. And how much does it hate
mankind? Let's quote the quirky contraption itself, in its only actual dialog:
|"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 PRINTED CIRCUITS IN WAFER THIN LAYERS THAT
FILL MY COMPLEX. IF THE WORD HATE WAS ENGRAVED ON
EACH 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."
When our story begins, there are only five human beings left on the planet Earth, selected
by AM for no explained reason as playthings to act out his frustration. The computer uses
all of its impossible power to keep these five random people alive for all eternity, just to
torture them in every conceivable way; revolting foods, obnoxious sounds, ravenous
monsters, bouts of insanity, whatever the machine can come up with. To make a short
story shorter, our protagonists suffer over nine hundred years of this technological hell
before finally figuring out how to kill themselves without AM's interference, though it
leaves one of them alive - our narrator, Ted - to suffer the computer's wrath. To make sure
his last human toy can't ever escape, AM transforms Ted into a helpless form that can't
ever possibly harm itself...
Poor Ted. This particular image actually comes from the ending of the PC game, and
could actually be any of the five characters depending on how you played. Since Harlan
Ellison worked on the game directly, it's safe to say this is the jelly thing's "official"
design, and don't you just want to flop all over it like a beanbag chair? You wouldn't want
to be Ted, no, but for a mockery of humanity that only exists to suffer, isn't it just SO