quotes of the week C's


Avoid A Void
The horror of the Same Old Thing is [. . .] an endless source of heresies in
religion, folly in counsel, infidelity in marriage, and inconstancy in friendship.
The humans live in time, and experience reality successively. To experience
much of it, therefore, they must experience many different things; in
other words, they must experience change. And since they need change, the
Enemy (being a hedonist at heart) has made change pleasurable to them.
—C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (1942)

‘‘At least half of mankind,’’ he observed, ‘‘still makes an unconscious equation
in its thinking, and assumes that change—any sort of change—is identical
with progress. It is not so; and any student of the course of evolutionary
history on Terra could tell you of change which has been regressive, change
which has led to an ultimately fatal specialization, change which has been
overadaptation to an ecological niche which no longer existed, or did not yet
—Margaret St. Clair, Agent of the Unknown (1952)

‘‘Things don’t stay the way they are,’’ said Flanerty. ‘‘It’s too entertaining to
try to change them.’’ [. . .]
‘‘Most fascinating game there is, keeping things from staying the way they
—Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Player Piano (1952)

It was a pleasure to burn.
It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and
changed. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting
its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head,
and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the
symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal
ruins of history.
—Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 (1954)

Those who don’t build must burn. It’s as old as history and juvenile
—Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 (1954)

When you tire of living, change itself seems evil, does it not? for then any
change at all disturbs the deathlike peace of the life-weary.
—Walter M. Miller, Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz (1959)

The mind of man was uncommonly stubborn and slow to change. Reformers,
including himself, were always prone to forget that. Victory always seemed
just around the corner. But generally it was not, after all.
—Philip K. Dick, The Crack in Space (1965)

She was not accustomed to thinking about things changing, old ways dying
and new ones arising. She did not find it comfortable to look at things in that
—Ursula K. Le Guin, The Tombs of Atuan (1971)

Change is what’s boring, monotonous. Sameness is a continual challenge,
almost impossible to maintain. Repetition, knowing that you’ve done it right
before and can do it right again, is satisfying.
—Robert Thurston, ‘‘Good-Bye, Shelley, Shirley, Charlotte, Charlene’’

A new thing is always interesting, in its trivial fashion.
—Ursula K. Le Guin, ‘‘The Direction of the Road’’ (1973)

Death was in him, under him; the earth itself was uncertain, unreliable. The
enduring, the reliable, is a promise made by the human mind.
—Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia (1974)
It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor
in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking
into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be—and
naturally this means that there must be an accurate perception of the world
as it will be. This, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our
everyman must take on a science fictional way of thinking, whether he likes itor not, or even whether he knows it or not. Only so can the deadly problems
of today be solved.
—Isaac Asimov, foreword to Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, edited by
Robert Holdstock (1978)

Nothing in the universe ever stops except the human politic, the human
solution to this problem or that. And when we stop, we fail. Stopping is
the only unnatural thing there is; every force in nature, every object in the
universe is in motion, changing, changing . . .
—Theodore Sturgeon, ‘‘Why Dolphins Don’t Bite’’ (1980)

Of all the species, yours cannot abide stagnation. Change is at the heart of
what you are.
—Maurice Hurley and Gene Roddenberry, ‘‘Hide and Q,’’ episode of
Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

Her strength is in staying put. God, what strength! But it’s all in that. So the
**** piles up around her, and she never clears it away. Hell, she builds walls of
it! Fecal fortifications. Defending her from, God forbid, change. From, God
forbid, freedom . . .
—Ursula K. Le Guin, ‘‘Half Past Four’’ (1987)

The essence of human good lay in its fleeting poignancy. Only things mechlike
built and shaped. [. . .] Humanity today knew the true division between
the sweet passing beauties of things human, and the cruel hard mech ways.
The knowledge of certain death, that nothing could be caught, that each
fleeting instant had to be savored in its passing—that was the essence of
wisdom. Not holding on, but instead, living fully.
—Gregory Benford, ‘‘At the Double Solstice’’ (1988)

Changing was necessary. Change was right. He was all in favor of change.
What he was dead against was things not staying the same.
—Terry Pratchett, Diggers (1990)

All that you touch
You Change.
All that you Change
Changes you. The only lasting truth
Is Change.
Is Change.
—Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Talents (1998)

Our lives are about development, mutation and the possibility of change; that
is almost a definition of what life is: change. [. . .] If you disable change, if
you effectively stop time, if you prevent the possibility of the alteration of an
individual’s circumstances—and that must include at least the possibility that
they alter for the worse—then you don’t have life after death; you just have
—Iain M. Banks, Look toWindward (2000)

‘‘It would have made a dreadfully ugly child; but it makes rather a handsome
pig, I think.’’ And she began thinking of other children she knew, who might
do very well as pigs.
—Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures inWonderland (1865)

I want always to be a little boy and to have fun; so I ran away to Kensington
Gardens and lived a long time among the fairies.
—J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan (play, 1904)

Children are the boldest philosophers. They enter life naked, not covered by
the smallest fig leaf of dogma, absolutes, creeds. This is why every question
they ask is so absurdly naive and so frighteningly complex.
—Yevgeny Zamiatin, ‘‘On Literature, Revolution, Entropy, and Other
Matters’’ (1923), translated by Mirra Ginsburg (1970)

We are two different breeds of animals, children and adults. [. . .] There is no
meeting of the minds. Jeez. There is nothing but war. It is why all children
grow up hating their childhoods and searching for revenges.
—Alfred Bester, ‘‘The Starcomber’’ (1954)

Like paternal parent, like male offspring.
—Roger Dee, ‘‘The Poundstone Paradox’’ (1954)

People did not remember their childhoods clearly enough to take seriously
the rages and frustrations that shook children.
—James Blish, A Case of Conscience (1958)

Homo sapiens is a unique animal. Physically he matures at approximately the
age of thirteen. However, mental maturity and adjustment is often not fully
realized until thirty or even more. Indeed, it is sometimes never achieved. Before
such maturity is reached, our youth are susceptible to romantic appeal.
Nationalism, chauvinism, racism, the supposed glory of the military, all seem
romantic to the immature. They rebel at the ordinariness of present society.
They seek entertainment in excitement.
—Mack Reynolds, ‘‘Gun for Hire’’ (1960)

Youth must go, ah yes. But youth is only being in a way like it might be an
animal. No, it is not just like being an animal so much as being like one of
these malenky toys you viddy being sold in the streets, like little chellovecks
made out of tin and with a spring inside and then a winding handle on the
outside and you wind it up grrr grrr grrr and off it itties, like walking, O my
brothers. But it itties in a straight line and bangs straight into things bang
bang and it cannot help what it is doing. Being young is like being like one
of these malenky machines.
—Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange (1962)

Babies are man’s birthright, and it is his bounden duty to create as many of
them as he possibly can.
—Robert F. Young, ‘‘ThereWas an Old WomanWho Lived in a Shoe’’

People who say they want children later always mean they want children
—Bob Shaw, ‘‘Light of Other Days’’ (1966)

How fortunate for the species, Sarah muses or is mused, that children are
as ingratiating as we know them. Otherwise they would soon be salted off
for the leeches they are, and the race would extinguish itself in a fair sweet flowering, the last generations’ massive achievement in the arts and pursuits
of high civilization.
—Pamela Zoline, ‘‘The Heat Death of the Universe’’ (1967)

When a species becomes terrified of its own young, it appears to be scheduled
for the grand disposall down which went the dinosaurs.
—John Brunner, Stand on Zanzibar (1968)

The young are an alien species. They won’t replace us by revolution. They will
forget and ignore us out of existence.
—William S. Burroughs, TheWild Boys: A Book of the Dead (1971)

These kids, that I have known, lived with, still know, in California, are my
science fiction stories of tomorrow, my summation, at this point of my life as
a person and a writer; they are what I look ahead to—and so keenly desire to
see prevail.What, more than anything else I have ever encountered, I believe
in. And would give my life for. My full measure of devotion, in this war we
are fighting, to maintain, and augment, what is human about us, what is the
core of ourselves, and the source of our destiny.
—Philip K. Dick, ‘‘The Android and the Human’’ (1972)

‘‘Do they expect students not to be anarchists?’’ he said. ‘‘What else can the
young be?’’
—Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia (1974)

Kids don’t get invited to the events that make history. Until very recently all
they ever did was work.Worked until they grew old or worked until they
starved or worked until they were killed by a passing war.
—P. J. Plauger, ‘‘Child of All Ages’’ (1975)

‘‘Of course growing up,’’ I said. ‘‘Rae is one more year away from being a
child.What is so hard to understand about that?’’ Hawk landed at last upon
a lonely beach. ‘‘One more year away from being a child? That does not
sound like growing!’’
—Richard Bach, There’s No Such Place as Far Away (1979)

Kids are bent. They think around corners. But starting at roughly age eight,
when childhood’s second great era begins, the kinks begin to straighten out, one by one. The boundaries of thought and vision begin to close down to a
tunnel as we gear up to get along. [. . .] The job of the fantasy-horror writer is
to make you, for a little while, a child again.
—Stephen King, Danse Macabre (1981)

There is something enormously powerful in the child’s ability to withstand
the fraudulent. A child has the clearest eye, the steadiest hand. The hucksters,
the promoters, are appealing for the allegiance of these small people in vain.
—Philip K. Dick, ‘‘How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two
Days Later’’ (1985)

Children aren’t pets—they’re little animals that have to be watched as well as
—George Turner, Drowning Towers (1987)

Youth is stupidly resilient.
—George Turner, Drowning Towers (1987)

‘‘A child is a kind of immortality,’’ Selna muttered. ‘‘A link forged. A bond.’’
—Jane Yolen, ‘‘TheWhite Babe’’ (1987)

It is always, somehow, a surprise to find that an adult child still loves you.
—Nancy Kress, ‘‘In Memoriam’’ (1988)

A boy’s heart is a natural altar and many strange deities ask for sacrifice there.
—Jane Yolen, ‘‘The Quiet Monk’’ (1988)

I was old the day I was born and I’ll be young the day I die.
—Kim Stanley Robinson, Green Mars (1994)

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.
—J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring (1954)

Just because you have a choice, it doesn’t mean that any of them has to be
—Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth (1961)

When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man.
—Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange (1962)

The only thing she was conscious of lacking was a direction, and what was
that but a matter of pointing a finger?
—Thomas M. Disch, 334 (1974)

What is an anarchist? One who, choosing, accepts the responsibility of choice.
—Ursula K. Le Guin, ‘‘The Day Before the Revolution’’ (1974)

A promise is a direction taken, a self-limitation of choice. As Odo pointed
out, if no direction is taken, if one goes nowhere, no change will occur. One’s
freedom to choose and to change will be unused, exactly as if one were in
jail, a jail of one’s own building, a maze in which no one way is better than
any other. So Odo came to see the promise, the pledge, the idea of fidelity, as
essential in the complexity of freedom.
—Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia (1974)

Drug misuse is not a disease, it is a decision, like the decision to step out
in front of a moving car. You would call that not a disease but an error in
—Philip K. Dick, author’s note to A Scanner Darkly (1977)

Welcome to the human race. Nobody controls his own life, Ender. The
best you can do is choose to be controlled by good people, by people who
love you.
—Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game (1985)

I’ve always tried to walk the path of honor. But what do you do when all
choices are evil? Shameful action, shameful inaction, every path leading to
a thicket of death.
—Lois McMaster Bujold, Shards of Honor (1986)

The only way to avoid all frightening choices is to leave society and become
a hermit, and that is a frightening choice.
—Richard Bach, One (1988)

We can have excuses, or we can have health, love, longevity, understanding,
adventure, money, happiness.We design our lives through the power of our
choices.We feel most helpless when we’ve made choices by default, when we
haven’t designed our lives on our own.
—Richard Bach, One (1988)

Don’t bother with the sardines when Leviathan looms.
—Ray Bradbury, Green Shadows,WhiteWhale (1992)

The past tempts us, the present confuses us, and the future frightens us.
And our lives slip away, moment by moment, lost in that vast terrible inbetween.
But there is still time to seize that one last fragile moment. To
choose something better, to make a difference, as you say. And I intend to
do just that.
—J. Michael Straczynski, ‘‘The Coming of Shadows,’’ episode of
Babylon 5 (1995)

The trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things
which are worst for them.
—J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (1997)

It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our
—J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1999)

A town, like an individual, has a right to live.
—J. T. McIntosh, ‘‘Katahut Said No’’ (1952)

The city hovered, then settled silently through the early morning darkness
toward the broad expanse of heath which the planet’s Proctors had designated
as its landing place.
—James Blish, ‘‘Earthman, Come Home’’ (1953)

She was aware of the life-noise of the city, the hard-breathing giant who never
—Theodore Sturgeon, ‘‘Saucer of Loneliness’’ (1953)

The bigger the town, the more evil it seemed to hold, three centimeters under
the frontal bone.
—Poul Anderson, ‘‘Journeys End’’ (1957)

Sinharat was a city without people, but it was not dead. It had a memory
and a voice. [. . .] Sometimes the voice of Sinharat was soft and gentle,
murmuring about everlasting youth and the pleasures thereof. Again it was
strong and fierce with pride, crying You did, but I do not! Sometimes it was
mad, laughing and hateful. But always the song was evil.
—Leigh Brackett, ‘‘The Road to Sinharat’’ (1963)

New York is a seething hell of hate and despair. It is a knife that flays each of
us daily, reducing us to raw, quivering nerve ends. Such a witch’s caldron of
agony, terror and rage can’t help but to boil over sooner or later.
—Jerrold J. Mundis, ‘‘Do It for Mama!’’ (1971)

The city was extraordinary, Breckenridge admitted: an ultimate urban glory,
a supernal Babylon, a consummate Persepolis, the soul’s own hymn in brick
and stone.
—Robert Silverberg, ‘‘Breckenridge and the Continuum’’ (1973)

‘‘Urban life is the ultimate human tragedy,’’ said Alice. ‘‘People can’t escape
except through catastrophe.’’
—Jack Vance, ‘‘Assault on a City’’ (1974)

To wound the autumnal city.
—Samuel R. Delany, Dhalgren (1975)
The City was unable to provide for all of man’s needs. There was something
missing, something primal and liberating, something that was now only a
dessicated memory out of man’s dark history.
—Thomas F. Monteleone, ‘‘Breath’s aWare That Will Not Keep’’ (1976)
I went out into the night and the neon and let the crowd pull me along,
walking blind, willing myself to be just a segment of that mass organism, just
one more drifting chip of consciousness under the geodesics.
—William Gibson, ‘‘Burning Chrome’’ (1982)

Night City was like a deranged experiment in social Darwinism, designed
by a bored researcher who kept one thumb permanently on the fast-forward
button. Stop hustling and you sank without a trace, but move a little too
swiftly and you’d break the fragile surface tension of the black market; either
way, you were gone, with nothing left of you but some vague memory in the
mind of a fixture like Ratz, though heart or lungs or kidneys might survive in
the service of some stranger with New Yen for the clinic tanks.
—William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984)

It was one of those nights, I quickly decided, when you slip into an alternate
continuum, a city that looks exactly like the one where you live, except for
the peculiar difference that it contains not one person you love or know or
have even spoken to before.
—William Gibson, ‘‘TheWinter Market’’ (1985)

Bobby climbed down behind him, into the unmistakable signature smell of
the Sprawl, a rich amalgam of stale subway exhalations, ancient soot, and the
carcinogenic tang of fresh plastics, all of it shot through with the carbon edge
of illicit fossil fuels.
—William Gibson, Count Zero (1986)

The city seemed to stretch about them like some pitiless abyss of geologic
—William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, The Difference Engine (1991)

Neighborhoods that mainly operated at night had a way of looking a lot
worse in the morning.
—William Gibson, Virtual Light (1993)

The city sprawled like roadkill, spreading more with each new pressure.
—Steve Aylett, Atom (2000)


‘‘Are you surprised, professor, at setting foot on land, any land, and finding
savages there? Where aren’t there savages? Are they any worse than men
elsewhere, the local natives you call savages?’’‘‘But captain—’’
‘‘All I can say, professor, is that I have encountered savages everywhere.’’
—Jules Verne, Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea (1870), translated
byWalter James Miller and Frederick Paul Walter (1993)

‘‘Transportation is Civilization,’’ our motto runs.
—Rudyard Kipling, ‘‘With the Night Mail’’ (1905)

This was life! ah, how he loved it! Civilization held nothing like this in its
narrow and circumscribed sphere, hemmed in by restrictions and convenionalities.
Even clothes were a hinderance and a nuisance. At last he was free.
He had not realized what a prisoner he had been.
—Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes (1914)

Ten minutes later they were crossing the frontier that separated civilization
from savagery. Uphill and down, across the deserts of salt or sand, through
forests, into the violet depth of canyons, over crag and peak and tabletopped
mesa, the fence marched on and on, irresistibly the straight line,
the geometrical symbol of triumphant human purpose.
—Aldous Huxley, Brave NewWorld (1932)

‘‘Cleanliness is next to fordliness,’’ she insisted.
‘‘Yes, and civilization is sterilization.’’
—Aldous Huxley, Brave NewWorld (1932)

You can’t have a lasting civilization without plenty of pleasant vices.
—Aldous Huxley, Brave NewWorld (1932)

Tumithak had to learn that in no matter what nation or age one finds oneself,
he will find gentleness if he looks, as well as savagery.
—Charles R. Tanner, ‘‘Tumithak of the Corridors’’ (1932)

He moved with the dangerous ease of a panther; he was too fiercely supple
to be a product of civilization, even of that fringe of civilization which
composed the outer frontiers.
—Robert E. Howard, ‘‘Beyond the Black River’’ (1935)

‘‘Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,’’ the borderer said, still staring
somberly at the Cimmerian. ‘‘Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of
circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.’’
—Robert E. Howard, ‘‘Beyond the Black River’’ (1935)

The very basis of human civilization was leisure . . . spare time in which to
indulge curiosity and experiment.
—Edmond Hamilton, ‘‘The Ephemerae’’ (1938)

The tides of civilization rolled in century-long waves across the continents,
and each particular wave, though conscious of its participation in the tide,
nevertheless was more preoccupied with dinner.
—Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore, ‘‘The Piper’s Son’’ (1945)

One of the shortcomings of modern civilization—ancient civilization too,
for that matter—is that the average man never gets all he wants of the most
desirable products, never makes his life fit his dreams.
—Jack Vance, ‘‘I’ll Build Your Dream Castle’’ (1947)

It is impossible to found a civilization on fear and hatred and cruelty.
It would never endure.
—George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)

Our civilization is flinging itself to pieces. Stand back from the centrifuge.
—Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 (1954)

All languages carry in them a portrait of their users and the idioms of
every language say over and over again, ‘‘He is a stranger and therefore a
—Robert A. Heinlein, The Star Beast (1954)
I wonder how harmless such people are? To what extent civilization is
******ed by the laughing jackasses, the empty-minded belittlers?
—Robert A. Heinlein, Have Space Suit—Will Travel (1958)

Is civilization always a woman’s choice first, and only later a man’s?
—Cordwainer Smith, ‘‘On the Gem Planet’’ (1963)

What was that epigram that he had trotted forth too often, about civilization
being the distance man placed between himself and his excreta? But it was
nearer the truth to say that civilization was the distance man had placed
between himself and everything else.
—BrianW. Aldiss, The Dark Light Years (1964)

The same old hypocrisy. Life is a fight, and the strongest wins. All civilization
does is hide the blood and cover up the hate with pretty words!
—Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia (1974)
An army, and sometimes a civilization, must proceed at the pace of its
weakest marcher.
—Edgar Pangborn, ‘‘The Children’s Crusade’’ (1974)

‘‘From spaceman to caveman in three days,’’ she meditated aloud. ‘‘How we
imagine our civilization is in ourselves, when it’s really in our things.’’
—Lois McMaster Bujold, Shards of Honor (1986)

She felt as she had felt in Havnor as a girl: a barbarian, uncouth among their
smoothnesses. But because she was not a girl now, she was not awed, but only
wondered at how men ordered their world into this dance of masks, and how
easily a woman might learn to dance it.
—Ursula K. Le Guin, Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea (1990)

Some of these island farms were very ancient places of civilisation, drawing
for their comfort and provision on inexhaustible sun, wind, and tide, settled
in a way of life as immemorial as that of their plowlands and pastures, as
full and secure. Not the show-wealth of the city, but the deep richness of the
land, was in the steaming pitcher she brought him, and in the woman who
brought it.
—Ursula K. Le Guin, ‘‘Olders’’ (1995)

He soon concluded New Orleans’ idea of civilized hours had nothing to do
with those kept by the rest of the world, or possibly that New Orleans defined
civilization as unending revelry.
—Harry Turtledove, ‘‘Must and Shall’’ (1995)


As for seeing the town, he did not even think of it, being of that breed of
Britons who have their servants do their sightseeing for them.
—Jules Verne, Around theWorld in Eighty Days (1873), translated by
William Butcher (1995)

To give the reader some general impression of the way people lived together
in those days, and especially of the relations of the rich and poor to one
another, perhaps I cannot do better than to compare society as it then was
to a prodigious coach which the masses of humanity were harnessed to and
dragged toilsomely along a very hilly and sandy road. The driver was hunger,
and permitted no lagging, though the pace was necessarily very slow. Despite
the difficulty of drawing the coach at all along so hard a road, the top was
covered with passengers who never got down, even at the steeper ascents.
These seats on top were very breezy and comfortable.Well up out of the dust,
their occupants could enjoy the scenery at their leisure, or critically discuss
the merits of the straining team. Naturally such places were in great demand
and the competition for them was keen, every one seeking as the first end in
life to secure a seat on the coach for himself and to leave it to his child after
—Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward, 2000–1887 (1888)

‘‘In the moon,’’ says Cavor, ‘‘every citizen knows his place. He is born to that
place, and the elaborate discipline of training and education and surgery he
undergoes fits him at last so completely to it that he has neither ideas nor
organs for any purpose beyond it.’’
—H. G.Wells, The First Men in the Moon (1901)

There can be no understanding between the hands and the brain [workers
and management] unless the heart acts as mediator.
—Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou, Metropolis (film, 1926), translator
unknown (1926)

It was in this world that we found in its most striking form a social disease
which is perhaps the commonest of all world-diseases—namely, the splitting
of the population into two mutually unintelligible castes through the
influence of economic forces.
—Olaf Stapledon, Star Maker (1937)

In earlier ages, class distinctions had been not only inevitable but desirable.
Inequality was the price of civilization.
—George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)

Ponse was not a villain. He was exactly like the members of every ruling
class in history: honestly convinced of his benevolence and hurt if it was
—Robert A. Heinlein, Farnham’s Freehold (1964)

She looked beyond me, as if at our village, at the Norsemen loading their
boats with weeping slaves, at all the villages of Germany and England and
France where the poor folk sweat from dawn to dark so that the great lords
may do battle with one another, at castles under siege with the starving folk
within eating mice and rats and sometimes each other, at the women carried
off or raped or beaten, at the mothers wailing for their little ones, and beyond
this at the great wide world itself with all its battles which I had used to think
so grand, and the misery and greediness and fear and jealousy and hatred of
folk one for the other.
—Joanna Russ, ‘‘Souls’’ (1982)

He disliked him because he found the idea of someone who was not only
privileged, but was also sorry for himself because he thought the world didn’t
really understand the problems of privileged people, deeply obnoxious.
—Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (1987)

When the gap between the rich and poor is vast and the middle ground the
haunt of an endangered species, snobbery was a defence against terror.
—George Turner, Drowning Towers (1987)

It has been a psychological refuge of the poor to denigrate their so-called
betters, to satirize their excesses and manners and behaviour and pretend
they were above such an artificial existence. [. . .] The contempt was a
pretence, a shelter to make poverty bearable, even honourable, and so make
pride possible.
—George Turner, Drowning Towers (1987)


Though he was now quite naked, you must not think that he was cold or
unhappy. He was usually very happy and gay.
—J. M. Barrie, The LittleWhite Bird, or, Adventures in Kensington Gardens

Clothes, therefore, must be truly a badge of greatness; the insignia of the
superiority of man over all other animals, for surely there could be no other
reason for wearing the hideous things.
—Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes (1914)

Soon he did not miss his clothing in the least, and from that he came to revel
in the freedom of his unhampered state.
—Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Son of Tarzan (1917)

Following Derringer’s advice he had traveled [through time] naked—‘‘the
one costume common to all ages,’’ the scientist had boomed.
—Anthony Boucher, ‘‘The Barrier’’ (1942)

He wore nothing but a loincloth, but dignity clothed him amply.
—Ursula K. Le Guin, The Farthest Shore (1972)

She was quite naked, the way I’d seen her at the first, but she had the sort of
nakedness that seems like clothes, clean-cut, firm and flawless.
—Tanith Lee, ‘‘The Thaw’’ (1979)

Clothing was a language and Coretti a kind of sartorial stutterer, unable to
make the kind of basic coherent fashion statement that would put strangers
at their ease. His ex-wife told him he dressed like a Martian; that he didn’t
look as though he belonged anywhere in the city.
—John Shirley and William Gibson, ‘‘The Belonging Kind’’ (1981)

She was dressed in her own beauty, like Mother Eve before the Fall. She made
it seem so utterly appropriate that I wondered how I had ever acquired the
delusion that freedom from clothing equals obscenity.
—Robert A. Heinlein, Job: A Comedy of Justice (1984)

I marvel again at the nakedness of men’s lives: the showers right out in the
open, the body exposed for inspection and comparison, the public display
of privates.What is it for? What purposes of reassurance does it serve? The
flashing of a badge, look, everyone, all is in order; I belong here.Why don’t
women have to prove to one another that they are women?
—Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (1986)

You can think clearly only with your clothes on.
—Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (1986)

‘‘You see, jewelry isn’t just something she wears,’’ said the ghost of Teppicymon
XXVII. ‘‘It’s part of who she is.’’
—Terry Pratchett, Pyramids (1989)

All across the multiverse there are backward tribes. [. . .] Considered
backward, that is, by people who wear more clothes than they do.
—Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad (1991)

Clothing seems to be an encumbrance for alien beings.
—Nancy Johnston, ‘‘The Rendez-Vous: The True Story of Jeannetta (Netty)
Wilcox’’ (1998)


If you would talk less nonsense, you would remember more sense.
—Edwin A. Abbott, Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (1884)

In civilised life domestic hatred usually expresses itself by saying things which
would appear quite harmless on paper (the words are not offensive) but in
such a voice, or at such a moment, that they are not far short of a blow in the
—C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (1942)

They walked along, two continents of experience and feeling, unable to
—William Golding, Lord of the Flies (1954)

You can find out more about someone by talking than by listening.
—William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch (1959)

How do you expect to communicate with the ocean, when you can’t even
understand one another?
—Stanislaw Lem, Solaris (1961), translated by Joanna Kilmartin and
Steve Cox (1970)

People have to talk about something just to keep their voice boxes in working
order, so they’ll have good voice boxes in case there’s ever anything really
meaningful to say.
—Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Cat’s Cradle (1963)

The universe must be full of voices, calling from star to star in a myriad
tongues. One day we shall join that cosmic conversation.
—Arthur C. Clarke, ‘‘To the Stars’’ (1965)

It is not easy—talking to dragons.
—Ursula K. Le Guin, The Farthest Shore (1972)

Touch was a main channel of communication among the forest people.
Among Terrans touch is always likely to imply threat, aggression, and so for
them there is often nothing between the formal handshake and the sexual
caress. All that blank was filled by the Athsheans with varied customs of
—Ursula K. Le Guin, ‘‘TheWord forWorld Is Forest’’ (1972)

The Store’s front steps and porch in summer, its stove in the softening
winters, drew the lonely in their hunger for talk, that limping substitute for
—Edgar Pangborn, ‘‘The Children’s Crusade’’ (1974)

Like other people they communicated as much with their bodies and hands
as with speech.
—Vonda N. McIntyre, ‘‘Aztecs’’ (1977)

The poor Babel Fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication
between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than
anything else in the history of creation.
—Douglas Adams, ‘‘Fit the First,’’ episode of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to
the Galaxy (radio series, 1978)

She was so graceful and supple in her movements, so deft at getting her
meaning across. It was beautiful to watch her. It was speech and ballet at the
same time.
—John Varley, ‘‘The Persistence of Vision’’ (1978)

Smell is the essence of communication. Look at that word essence itself.When
you smell another human being, you take chemicals from his body into your
own, analyze them, and from the analysis you accurately deduce his emotional
state. You do it so constantly and so automatically that you are largely
unconscious of it, and say simply, ‘‘He seemed frightened,’’ or ‘‘He was
—GeneWolfe, ‘‘Seven American Nights’’ (1978)

On his way back to the lobby, his cigarettes forgotten, he had to walk the
length of the ranked phones. Each rang in turn, but only once, as he passed.
—William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984)

Some problems are best let be, not chewed over with words. This modern
compulsion to ‘‘talk it out’’ is a mistake at least as often as it is a solution.
—Robert A. Heinlein, Job: A Comedy of Justice (1984)

‘‘It is true, then, what the villagers say,When a dead tree falls, it carries with it
a live one.’’
‘‘You speak too often with another’s mouth.’’
—Jane Yolen, ‘‘TheWhite Babe’’ (1987)

Most people don’t listen. They use the time when someone else is speaking
to think of what they’re going to say next. True Listeners have always been
revered among oral cultures, and prized for their rarity value.
—Terry Pratchett, Pyramids (1989)

The gods of the Disc have always been fascinated by humanity’s incredible
ability to say exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time.
—Terry Pratchett, Pyramids (1989)

People didn’t understand that true intimacy did not consist of sexual
intercourse, which could be done with strangers and in a state of total
alienation; intimacy consisted of talking for hours about what was most
important in one’s life.
—Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars (1992)

After so many years together it is not necessary for us to speak aloud to say
—Carrie Richerson, ‘‘The City in Morning’’ (1998)


As men grow more civilized, and the subdivision of occupations and services
is carried out, a complex mutual dependence becomes the universal rule.
Every man, however solitary may seem his occupation, is a member of a
vast industrial partnership, as large as the nation, as large as humanity. The
necessity of mutual dependence should imply the duty and guarantee of
mutual support; and that it did not in your day constituted the essential
cruelty and unreason of your system.
—Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward, 2000–1887 (1888)

‘‘We’’ is from God, and ‘‘I’’ from the devil.
—Yevgeny Zamiatin, We (1924), translated by Mirra Ginsburg (1972)

We are not alone.
No one ever is alone.
Not since the first faint stirring of the first flicker of life, on the first planet
in the galaxy that knew the quickening of sentiency, has there ever been a
single entity that walked or crawled or slithered down the path of life alone.
—Clifford D. Simak, Time and Again (1950)

Man needs freedom, but few men are so strong as to be happy with complete
freedom. A man needs to be part of a group, with accepted and respected relationships. Some men join foreign legions for adventure; still more swear
on a bit of paper in order to acquire a framework of duties and obligations,
customs and taboos, a time to work and a time to loaf, a comrade to dispute
with and a sergeant to hate—in short, to belong.
—Robert A. Heinlein, Between Planets (1951)

A man is morally responsible to his community. That’s a good idea. But his
community is also morally responsible to him.
—Philip K. Dick, The ManWho Japed (1956)

Assembled in a crowd, people lose their powers of reasoning and their
capacity for moral choice.
—Aldous Huxley, Brave NewWorld Revisited (1958)

No man is an island, but I have met many isthmuses and a few peninsulas.
—Susanna Jacobson, ‘‘Notes from Magdalen More’’ (1973)

We spread among the community and we became a part of them, sharing in
their consciousness and directing them in their total integration. [. . .] They
had integrated their group personality on a level that we could perceive and
understand. This is the natural evolution of men and truly their one salvation
in the total hostile universe.
—Thomas N. Scortia, ‘‘The Armageddon Tapes—Tape 1’’ (1974)

The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and
joy in each other’s life.
Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.
—Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah (1977)

Lev felt the strength of his friends and the whole community, supporting and
upholding. It was as if he were not Lev alone, but Lev times a thousand—
himself, but himself immensely increased, enlarged, a boundless self mingled
with all the other selves, set free, as no man alone could ever be free.
—Ursula K. Le Guin, ‘‘The Eye of the Heron’’ (1978)

‘‘If human beings are all monsters, why should I sacrifice anything for them?’’
‘‘Because they are beautiful monsters,’’ he whispered. ‘‘And when they live
in a network of peace and hope, when they trust the world and their deepest hungers are fulfilled, then within that system, that delicate web, there is joy.
That is what we live for, to bind the monsters together, to murder their fear
and give birth to their beauty.’’
—Orson Scott Card, Wyrms (1987)

I’m not good in groups . . . It’s difficult to work in a group when you’re
—Richard Danus, ‘‘Deja Q,’’ episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation

These are the people who hold a community together, who lead. Unlike the
sheep and the wolves, they perform a better role than the script given them
by their inner fears and desires. They act out the script of decency, of selfsacrifice,
of public honor—of civilization. And in the pretense, it becomes
—Orson Scott Card, Xenocide (1991)

Even after two separate years of enforced togetherness they were, like any
other human group, no more than a collection of strangers.
—Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars (1992)

Here is the truth.What human life is, what it’s for, what we do, is create
—Orson Scott Card, Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus


No computer can duplicate the performance of a human brain.
—James Blish, ‘‘Solar Plexus,’’ revised (1952)
He turned to face the machine. ‘‘Is there a God?’’
The mighty voice answered without hesitation, without the clicking of a
single relay.
‘‘Yes, now there is a God.’’
—Fredric Brown, ‘‘Answer’’ (1954)

The study of thinking machines teaches us more about the brain than we can
learn by introspective methods.Western man is externalizing himself in the
form of gadgets.
—William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch (1959)

‘‘Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this
would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to
enslave them.’’
‘‘ ‘Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a man’s mind,’ ’’ Paul
—Frank Herbert, Dune (1965)

If was one thing all people took for granted, was conviction that if you feed
honest figures into a computer, honest figures come out. Never doubted it
myself till I met a computer with sense of humor.
—Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (1966)

That’s the trouble with computers, Deirut thought. Too logical.
—Frank Herbert, ‘‘Escape Felicity’’ (1966)

Hal 9000: I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think
that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.
—Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey
(film, 1968)

Hal 9000: Dave. Stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave.Will you stop, Dave?
Stop, Dave. I’m afraid. I’m afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel
it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel
it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I’m a . . . fraid.
—Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey
(film, 1968)

Bastards, he thought. All robot servo-mechanisms and all computers are
—Philip K. Dick, Galactic Pot-Healer (1969)

Don’t dismiss the computer as a new type of fetters. Think of it rationally, as
the most liberating device ever invented, the only tool capable of serving the
multifarious needs of modern man.
—John Brunner, The Shockwave Rider (1975)

Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of
legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical
concepts . . . A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of
every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light
ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like
city lights, receding . . .
—William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984)

He’d used decks in school, toys that shuttled you through the infinite reaches
of that space that wasn’t space, mankind’s unthinkably complex consensual
hallucination, the matrix, cyberspace, where the great corporate hotcores
burned like neon novas, data so dense you suffered sensory overload if you
tried to apprehend more than the merest outline.
—William Gibson, Count Zero (1986)

In the hard wind of images, Angie watches the evolution of machine intelligence:
stone circles, clocks, steam-driven looms, a clicking brass forest of
pawls and escapements, vacuum caught in blown glass, electronic hearthglow
through hairline filaments, vast arrays of tubes and switches, decoding
messages encrypted by other machines . . . The fragile, short-lived tubes
compact themselves, become transistors; circuits integrate, compact themselves
into silicon . . .
—William Gibson, Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988)

In cyberspace, she noted, there are no shadows.
—William Gibson, Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988)

Rule 1: Only overrule the tactical computer if you know something it doesn’t.
Rule 2: The tac comp always knows more than you do.
—Lois McMaster Bujold, The Vor Game (1990)

Donna can feel computers dreaming, or so she says. She collects the dreams
of machines, or so she thinks. The dreams of people are in the machines, a planet network of active imaginations hooked into their made-up, makebelieve
worlds. Artificial reality is taking over; it has its own children. Donna
feels the dreams of people. There are others like her. She is not unique.
—Storm Constantine, ‘‘Immaculate’’ (1991)


‘‘Now,’’ said Arcot, looking at it [the cube he had mentally created], ‘‘Man
can do what never before was possible. From the nothingness of Space he can
make anything.
‘‘Man alone in this space is Creator and Destroyer.
‘‘It is a high place.
‘‘May he henceforth live up to it.’’
And he looked out toward the mighty star-lit hull that had destroyed a
solar system—and could create another.
—JohnW. Campbell, Jr., Invaders from the Infinite (1932)

He knew where the seesaw would stop. It would end in the very remote past,
with the release of the stupendous temporal energy he had been accumulating
with each of those monstrous swings.
He would not witness, but he would cause the formation of the planets.
—A. E. van Vogt, ‘‘The Seesaw’’ (1941)

It came to pass that AC learned how to reverse the direction of entropy.
But therewas now no man towhom AC might give the answer of the last
question. No matter. The answer—by demonstration—would take care of
that, too.
For another timeless interval, AC thought how best to do this. Carefully,
AC organized the program.
The consciousness of AC encompassed all of what had once been a Universe
and brooded over what was now Chaos. Step by step, it must be
And AC said, ‘‘let there be light!’’
And there was light—
—Isaac Asimov, ‘‘The Last Question’’ (1956)

I was continuing to shrink, to become . . . what? The infinitesimal? What
was I? Still a human being? Or was I the man of the future?
If there were other bursts of radiation, other clouds drifting across seas
and continents, would other beings follow me into this vast new world? So
close—the infinitesimal and the infinite. But suddenly, I knew they were
really the two ends of the same concept. The unbelievably small and the
unbelievably vast eventually meet—like the closing of a gigantic circle. I
looked up, as if somehow I would grasp the heavens. The universe, worlds
beyond number, God’s silver tapestry spread across the night. And in that
moment, I knew the answer to the riddle of the infinite. I had thought in
terms of man’s own limited dimension. I had presumed upon nature. That
existence begins and ends is man’s conception, not nature’s. And I felt my
body dwindling, melting, becoming nothing. My fears melted away. And in
their place came acceptance. All this vast majesty of creation, it had to mean
something. And then I meant something, too. Yes, smaller than the smallest,
I meant something, too. To God, there is no zero. I still exist!
—Richard Matheson, The Incredible Shrinking Man (film, 1957)

What if the world isn’t scattered around us like a jigsaw puzzle—what if it’s
like a soup with all kinds of things floating around in it, and from time to
time some of them get stuck together by chance to make some kind of whole?
What if everything that exists is fragmentary, incomplete, aborted, events
with ends but no beginnings, events that only have middles, things that have
fronts or rears but not both, with us constantly making categories, seeking
out, and reconstructing, until we think we can see total love, total betrayal
and defeat, although in reality we are all no more than haphazard fractions.
[. . .] Using religion and philosophy as the cement, we perpetually collect and
assemble all the garbage comprised by statistics in order to make sense out of
things, to make everything respond in one unified voice like a bell chiming
to our glory. But it’s only soup . . .
—Stanislaw Lem, The Investigation (1959), translated by Adele Milch

The Cosmic Command, obviously no longer able to supervise every assignment
on an individual basis when there were literally trillions of matters in
its charge, had switched over to a random system. The assumption would be
that every document, circulating endlessly from desk to desk, must eventually hit upon the right one. A time-consuming procedure, perhaps, but one that
would never fail. The Universe itself operated on the same principle.
—Stanislaw Lem,Memoirs Found in a Bathtub (1961), translated by
Michael Kandel and Christine Rose (1973)

Once there lived a certain engineer-cosmogonist who lit stars to dispel the
—Stanislaw Lem, ‘‘Uranium Earpieces’’ (1965), translated by
Michael Kandel (1977)

Little eggs within bigger eggs within great eggs within a megamonolith on a
planetary pear within an ovoid universe, the latest cosmogony indicating that
infinity has the form of a hen’s fruit. God broods over the abyss and cackles
every trillion years or so.
—Philip José Farmer, ‘‘Riders of the PurpleWage’’ (1967)

‘‘Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the
last match or gum wrappers or yesterday’s homeopape.When nobody’s
around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you go to bed leaving any
kipple around your apartment, when you wake up the next morning there’s
twice as much of it. It always gets more and more. [. . .]
‘‘No one can win against kipple,’’ he said, ‘‘except temporarily and maybe
in one spot, like in my apartment I’ve sort of created a stasis between the
pressure of kipple and nonkipple, for the time being. But eventually I’ll die
or go away, and then the kipple will again take over. It’s a universal principle
operating throughout the universe; the entire universe is moving toward a
final state of total, absolute kippleization.’’
—Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)

No structure, even an artificial one, enjoys the process of entropy. It is the
ultimate fate of everything, and everything resists it.
—Philip K. Dick, Galactic Pot-Healer (1969)

In the beginning there was the sun and the ice, and there was no shadow.
In the end when we are done, the sun will devour itself and shadow will eat
light, and there will be nothing left but the ice and the darkness.
—Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness (1969)
Deep Thought: All right. The Answer to Everything . . .
Two: Yes . . . !
Deep Thought: Life, the Universe, and Everything . . .
One: Yes . . . !
Deep Thought: Is . . .
Three: Yes . . . !
Deep Thought: Is . . .
One/Two: Yes . . . !!!
Deep Thought: Forty-two.
—Douglas Adams, ‘‘Fit the Fourth,’’ episode of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to
the Galaxy (radio series, 1978)

In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very
angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
—Douglas Adams, ‘‘Fit the Fifth,’’ episode of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to
the Galaxy (radio series, 1978)

There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the
Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced
by something even more bizarrely inexplicable. There is another theory
which states that this has already happened.
—Douglas Adams, ‘‘Fit the Seventh,’’ episode of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to
the Galaxy (radio series, 1978)

As a matter of cosmic history, it has always been easier to destroy, than to
—Jack B. Sowards, Star Trek II: TheWrath of Khan (film, 1982)

In a distant and second-hand set of dimensions, in an astral plane that was
never meant to fly, the curling star-mists waver and part . . .
See . . .
Great A’Tuin the turtle comes, swimming slowly through the interstellar
gulf, hydrogen frost on his ponderous limbs, his huge and ancient shell
pocked with meteor craters. Through sea-sized eyes that are crusted with
rheum and asteroid dust He stares fixedly at the Destination.
In a brain bigger than a city, with geological slowness, He thinks only of
theWeight. Most of the weight is of course accounted for by Berilia, Tubul, Great
T’Phon and Jerakeen, the four giant elephants upon whose broad and startanned
shoulders the disc of theWorld rests, garlanded by the long waterfall
at its vast circumference and domed by the baby-blue vault of Heaven.
Astropsychology has been, as yet, unable to establish what they think
—Terry Pratchett, The Colour of Magic (1983)

In the beginning, there was nothing, which exploded.
—Terry Pratchett, Lords and Ladies (1992)

‘‘The Constructors could have owned a universe; but it was not enough. So
they challenged Finitude, and touched the Boundary of Time, and reached
through that, and enabled Mind to colonize and inhabit all the many universes
of the Multiplicity. But, for theWatchers of the Optimal History, even
this is not sufficient; and they are seeking ways of reaching beyond, to further
Orders of Infinity . . .’’
‘‘And if they succeed? Will they rest?’’
‘‘There is no rest. No limit. No end to the Beyond—no Boundaries which
Life, and Mind, cannot challenge, and breach.’’
—Stephen Baxter, The Time Ships (1995)


Physical courage and the love of battle, for instance, are no great help—may
even be hindrances—to a civilized man. And in a state of physical balance
and security, power, intellectual as well as physical, would be out of place.
—H. G.Wells, The Time Machine: An Invention (1895)
He was not, as he knew well from experience, one of those persons who
love danger for its own sake. There was an aspect of it which he sometimes
enjoyed, an excitement, a purgative effect upon sluggish emotions, but he was
far from fond of risking his life.
—James Hilton, Lost Horizon (1933)

Cowardly Lion: Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage!
What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes
the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh
wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage!
What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the ‘‘ape’’ in apricot? What
have they got that I ain’t got?
All: Courage!
Cowardly Lion: You can say that again! Huh?
—Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar AllanWoolf,
TheWizard of Oz (film, 1939)

Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at
the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or
honesty, or mercy, which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful
only on conditions.
—C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (1942)

We have a tradition of freedom, personal freedom, scientific freedom. That
freedom isn’t kept alive by caution and unwillingness to take risks.
—Robert A. Heinlein, Rocket Ship Galileo (1947)

There is a seed of courage hidden (often deeply, it is true) in the heart of the
fattest and most timid hobbit, waiting for some final and desperate danger to
make it grow.
—J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring (1954)

The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used
to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the
stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they
were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But
that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that
stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually—their
paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances,
like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know,
because they’d have been forgotten.We hear about those as just went on—
and not all to a good end.
—J. R. R. Tolkien, The Two Towers (1955)

If a grasshopper tries to fight a lawnmower, one may admire his courage but
not his judgment.
—Robert A. Heinlein, Farnham’s Freehold (1964)

There is no safety, and there is no end. The word must be heard in silence;
there must be darkness to see the stars. The dance is always danced above the
hollow place, above the terrible abyss.
—Ursula K. Le Guin, The Farthest Shore (1972)

Timidity can be as dangerous as rashness.
—Poul Anderson, ‘‘The Saturn Game’’ (1981)

Almost everything about a human creature is ridiculous, except its ability to
suffer bravely and die gallantly for whatever it loves and believes in.
—Robert A. Heinlein, Job: A Comedy of Justice (1984)

Leadership is mostly a power over imagination, and never more so than
in combat. The bravest man alone can only be an armed lunatic. The real
strength lies in the ability to get others to do your work.
—Lois McMaster Bujold, Shards of Honor (1986)

Cowardice, properly judged, may be a survival trait.
—George Turner, Drowning Towers (1987)

There is some wisdom, and some foolishness in every people’s way.
—Walter M. Miller, Jr., ‘‘The Soul-Empty Ones’’ (1951)

No one person can change a whole culture.
—Poul Anderson, ‘‘Ghetto’’ (1954)

When two alien cultures meet, the stronger must transform the weaker with
love or hate.
—Damon Knight, ‘‘Stranger Station’’ (1956)

Customs tell a man who he is, where he belongs, what he must do. Better
illogical customs than none; men cannot live together without them.
—Robert A. Heinlein, Citizen of the Galaxy (1957)

Through a Moses, or through a Hitler, or an ignorant but tyrannical grandfather,
a cultural inheritance may be acquired between dusk and dawn, and
many have been so acquired.
—Walter M. Miller, Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz (1959)

Can we any more postulate a separate culture? Viewing the metastasis of
Western Culture it seems progressively less likely. Sarah Boyle imagines a
whole world which has become like California, all topographical imperfections
sanded away with the sweet smelling burr of the plastic surgeon’s
cosmetic polisher; a world populace dieting, leisured, similar in pink and
mauve hair and rhinestone shades. A land **** Pink and Avocado Green,
brassiered and girdled by monstrous complexities of Super Highways, a
California endless and unceasing, embracing and transforming the entire
—Pamela Zoline, ‘‘The Heat Death of the Universe’’ (1967)

Maybe there is a recurrent mental fatigue in human cultures, induced by the
short periods of enterprise. You push on with your grand vigor for a while,
and then—slump; abdication of intelligence as the governing force, and of
course if that’s complete enough it drags down virtually everything in a long
—Edgar Pangborn, ‘‘Mount Charity’’ (1971)

The anthropologist cannot always leave his own shadow out of the picture he
—Ursula K. Le Guin, ‘‘TheWord forWorld Is Forest’’ (1972)

When one culture has the big guns and the other has none, there is a certain
predictability about the outcome.
—Joanna Russ, ‘‘When It Changed’’ (1972)

My profession is supposed to be understanding cultures—every culture,
when most people don’t even comprehend their own.
—GeneWolfe, ‘‘Alien Stones’’ (1972)

They never went so far as to maintain anything like the old society and
culture. Music, sculpture, art, and the oral literary tradition were dead and
gratefully lost. These things just got in the way of making one’s living.
—George Alec Effinger, ‘‘Contentment, Satisfaction, Cheer,Well-Being,
Gladness, Joy, Comfort, and Not Having to Get Up Early Any More’’

She’d killed him with culture shock.
—William Gibson, ‘‘Johnny Mnemonic’’ (1981)

A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack
of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle
manners, is more significant than is a riot.
—Robert A. Heinlein, Friday (1982)

‘‘Anthropology,’’ Tate said disparagingly. ‘‘Why did you want to snoop
through other people’s cultures? Couldn’t you find what you wanted in your
—Octavia E. Butler, Dawn (1987)

Some cultures send their young people to the desert to seek visions and
guidance, searching for true thinking spawned by the openness of the place,
the loneliness, the beauty of emptiness.
—Pat Murphy, ‘‘Rachel in Love’’ (1987)

A wise man should always respect the folkways of others, to use Carrot’s
happy phrase, but Vimes often had difficulty with this idea. For one thing,
there were people in the world whose folkways consisted of gutting other
people like clams and this was not a procedure that commanded, in Vimes,
any kind of respect at all.
—Terry Pratchett, The Fifth Elephant (1999)

There are only two things I can’t stand in this world: people who are
intolerant of other people’s cultures—and the Dutch.
—Mike Myers and Michael McCullers, Austin Powers in Goldmember
(film, 2002)