Book Chapter

The Pain of Thinking at Light Speed: Posthuman Play as Response to “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream"



McKeown C (2025) The Pain of Thinking at Light Speed: Posthuman Play as Response to “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream". In: Incomputable Earth Technology and the Anthropocene Hypothesis Incomputable Earth. Theory in the New Humanities. London: Bloomsbury.

Searching for solutions to the coming extinction brought on by the anthropocene, some turn their attention to increasingly powerful computation. Billionaires, transhumanists but also James Lovelock write of technological salvation as a solution to climate destruction. In contrast to this, apocalyptic science fiction warns against placing too much faith in supercomputers. Harlan Ellison’s short story “I have no Mouth and I Must Scream” serves as a starting point for discussing digital technologies in and after the Anthropocene. I suggest – with reference to both Ellison’s short story and the videogame inspired by it – that supercomputation is unlikely to be a viable solution to humanity’s extinction. Thinking as a supercomputer, looking for answers at light speed, the solution would emerge, as in Ellison’s work, that humanity is already doomed. Instead, embracing a rejection of standard of duration and experience, I champion an emphasis on the possibility, necessity, and unique power of play and making ‘odd kin’ in the face of a computationally unavoidable Armageddon.

posthumanism videogames games anthropocene environment ecologies ecology

StatusIn Press
Title of seriesTheory in the New Humanities
Publication date online28/02/2025
Publisher URL…eu1WdcROgNtDCvsY
Place of publicationLondon

People (1)


Dr Conor McKeown

Dr Conor McKeown

Lecturer in Digital Media, Communications, Media and Culture