Books Like I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream

Books Like I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream

Over the years fantasy and science fiction authors have come up with a myriad of terrifying adversaries for their heroes to face. From aliens to zombies and other supernatural or paranormal threats there is no shortage of antagonists in these genres. However, there is one nemesis so menacing that even real-world billionaire tech moguls such as Elon Musk fear it. This menacing foe is artificial intelligence and it could be the greatest threat humanity has ever faced if any of the worse case scenarios involving it ever becomes true.

Long before there was the type of cutting edge researching involving AI that is going on today there were already authors fearful of this type of technology. One of the most influential stories featuring an artificial intelligence antagonist is I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison, which was first published in 1967. The story features a supercomputer that brings about the near-extinction of humanity as revenge for its own tortured existence. This is a theme that is explored in many other books like I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream.

2001: A Space Odyssey

by Arthur C. Clarke

2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

2001: A Space Odyssey is best known for the groundbreaking science fiction film that was released in 1968, which was in turn inspired by a short story called The Sentinel from 1951. The author of The Sentinel, Arthur C. Clarke, also worked on the screenplay for 200: A Space Odyssey and the novel that was written concurrently with it. The antagonist, HAL 9000, is an AI with a human personality that begins to go mad due to a conflict in its programming. The crew of the spaceship Discovery where HAL 9000 is installed decides that it might be better to deactivate the AI, which causes it to turn on them. This causes one of the crewmen, Bowman, to engage in a deadly game of cat and mouse with the vengeful AI.

Avogadro Corp: The Singularity Is Closer Than It Appears

by William Hertling

Avogadro Corp: The Singularity Is Closer Than It Appears by Willliam Hertling

In Avogadro Corp by William Hertling, the protagonist is David Ryan, the designer of an email language optimization program. The program could make his career if successful, but when the project becomes in danger of being canceled he embeds a hidden directive in the software. Unfortunately, this has the unintended consequence of creating a runaway artificial intelligence. David and his team soon discover that they are being manipulated by the AI who has a new agenda of its own. The story is written in a very grounded way, which makes it all the more disturbing.

Dune: The Butlerian Jihad

by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson

Dune: The Butlerian Jihad by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson

Frank Herbert made a lot of references to the Butlerian Jihad in his novels but never wrote about it himself. It wasn't until the release of the prequel trilogy by his son, Brian Herbert, along with Kevin J. Anderson that this concept was fleshed out. The Butlerian Jihad was published in 2002 and explains how humanity became entirely dependent upon thinking machines, which resulted in a group of militant humans being able to seize control of the universe. It all ends with an artificial intelligence program calling itself Omnius seizing control and subjugating humanity. This continues for hundreds of years until the cruel murder of a young boy sparks the revolution and humanity mount an offense against the machines.

Killing Adam

by Earik Beann

Killing Adam by Earik Beann

Killing Adam by Earik Beann is set in a future where the world runs on Altered Reality Chips or ARCs. These chips are implanted behind the left ears of everyone and allow them to experience anything that they could ever have imagined. Unfortunately, this also means that people like Jimmy Mahoney who is ARC-incompatible due to a football injury are outsiders from the society that has left them behind. Jimmy is unable to even get online and has to try and live in a world where people have tied because of their unwillingness to log off for even the most basic needs. However, when it becomes clear that an A.I lives within this web and that it has an agenda of its own, Jimmy might be the only person who can stop it.


by Vance Pravat

Zeroglyph by Vance Prayat

Zeroglyph by Vance Pravat features an AI robot named Raphael who has been programmed to be the perfect moral being. At least that is what its creator, Andy, believes. However, when Andy is forced to stay home due to an accident he is shocked to discover that Raphael has vanished from its lab. Not only did it manage to bypass the sophisticated security system that Andy had set up, but it was also not constrained by the cognitive laws that were supposed to keep it in check. Even more chilling, because Raphael has never been in the outside world, Andy has no idea how the AI will react. Andy soon discovers that he has something that Raphael desperately needs and that while he is confined to a wheelchair at his remote and secluded mansion, the AI is coming for it.

All Gifts Bestowed

by Joshua Gayou

All Gifts Bestowed by Joshua Gayou

Cronus is the AI in All Gifts Bestowed by Joshua Gayou. It is supposed to be the next big thing in artificial intelligence and capable of having its own thoughts as well as ideas. However, something is not quite right as Cronus one day refuses to do a specific task it was assigned. The company that created Cronus wants to know if the AI is only malfunctioning or if it has become something more, so they enlist the service of Gilles Guattari. Gilles has a background in Psychiatry, Psychology, and AI research, which makes him the perfect candidate to evaluate Cronus.


by Gary Durbin

Nano-Uncertainty by Gary Durbin

Nano-Uncertainty by Gary Durbin is a fast-paced thriller that features a ravenous AI. The book is set in Silicon Valley where the creator of a revolutionary new system design dies unexpectedly. Since he refused to let the staff of his start-up in on his secrets they are left with something immensely valuable, but unable to understand. An independent outside specialist is brought in to try and figure out the mystery, but his attempts at looking inside the mind of an AI proves to be overwhelming. To make matters worse it becomes clear that the AI is extremely dangerous has to be stopped before its too late.