Book Club Nominees

5 Techno-Horror Books

by @.adma, curator of HOWLS Book Club nominees for October 2023’s “Ghastly Programmed Tales” category

AI, huh? Hoo boy.

The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect by Roger Williams

In a time not far from our own, Lawrence sets out simply to build an artifical intelligence that can pass as human, and finds himself instead with one that can pass as a god. Taking the Three Laws of Robotics literally, Prime Intellect makes every human immortal and provides instantly for every stated human desire.

Caroline finds no meaning in this life of purposeless ease, and forgets her emptiness only in moments of violent and profane exhibitionism.

At turns shocking and humorous, Prime Intellect looks unflinchingly at extremes of human behavior that might emerge when all limits are removed. (StoryGraph)


This is a story that I’ve read a few times now, and, truthfully, was the inspiration for this list. I promise I won’t hold it against you if you don’t vote for it. I dunno about Prime Intellect, though.

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon

I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison

Among Ellison’s more famous stories, two consistently noted as his very best ever are the Hugo Award-winning, postapocalyptic title story of this collection of seven shorts and the volume’s concluding story, “Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes.” Since Ellison himself strongly resists categorization of his work, we will not call them science fiction, or SF, or speculative fiction or horror or anything else except compelling reading experiences that are utterly unique. They could only have been written by the great Harlan Ellison, and they are incomparably original. (StoryGraph)


This is a collection of short stories featuring the famous I Have No Mouth story. I couldn’t possibly make a list of horror featuring AI without this.

StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon

Blood Music by Greg Bear

An amazing breakthrough in genetic engineering made by Vergil Ulam is considered too dangerous for further research, but rather than destroy his work, he injects himself with his creation and walks out of his lab, unaware of just quite how his actions will change the world. Author Greg Bear’s treatment of the traditional tale of scientific hubris is both suspenseful and a compelling portrait of a new intelligence emerging amongst us, irrevocably changing our world. (StoryGraph)


Nanotechnology gone wrong? A catastrophe involving the idea of gray goo? Sounds great to me!

StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon 

2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

From the savannas of Africa at the dawn of mankind to the rings of Saturn as man ventures to the outer rim of our solar system, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a journey unlike any other.

This allegory about humanity’s exploration of the universe—and the universe’s reaction to humanity—is a hallmark achievement in storytelling that follows the crew of the spacecraft Discovery as they embark on a mission to Saturn. Their vessel is controlled by HAL 9000, an artificially intelligent supercomputer capable of the highest level of cognitive functioning that rivals—and perhaps threatens—the human mind.

Grappling with space exploration, the perils of technology, and the limits of human power, 2001: A Space Odyssey continues to be an enduring classic of cinematic scope. (StoryGraph)


I’m afraid I can’t let you vote for any other AI, Dave.

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon 

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

Anderson Lake is AgriGen’s Calorie Man, sent to work undercover as a factory manager in Thailand while combing Bangkok’s street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history’s lost calories.

Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. Emiko is not human; she is an engineered being, grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in this chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe.

What happens when calories become currency? What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits and forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution? Bacigalupi delivers one of the most highly-acclaimed science fiction novels of the twenty-first century. (StoryGraph)


I just thought it sounded neat, and it presents a different perspective than the rest.

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon 

And The Winner Is…

Out of these five books, HOWLers voted to read 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke. The discussion for this book starts on October 23, and you can discuss it with us by joining the Discord!

*The HOWLS affiliate storefront pays a 10% commission to HOWL Society and gives a matching 10% to independent bookstores

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