Last modified on 17 February 2015, at 21:50

Robert Silverberg

Ignorance can’t be pardoned. Only cured.

Robert Silverberg (born 15 January 1935) is a prolific author best known for writing science fiction, a multiple winner of both the Hugo and Nebula Awards.


  • Stale is stale and borrowed is borrowed, no matter how original your models may have been.
    • Introduction to New Dimensions 1, edited by Robert Silverberg
  • Autobiography. Apparently one should not name the names of those one has been to bed with, or give explicit figures on the amount of money one has earned, those being the two data most eagerly sought by readers; all the rest is legitimate to reveal.

Short fictionEdit

Company Store (1959)Edit

  • When you poison a man in order to sell him the antidote, you don’t boast about it afterward to the victim!

Hawksbill Station (1967)Edit

Novella which was nominated for the 1968 Hugo Award and for the 1967 Nebula Award. Originally published in Galaxy magazine (August 1967).
  • Political theorists tend to swallow their theories when forced back on pragmatic measures of survival.
    • Section 5

Nightwings (1968)Edit

Novella which won the 1969 Hugo Award and was nominated for the 1969 Nebula Award. Originally published in Galaxy magazine (September 1968).
  • It is my craft and my science to Watch. It is yours to jeer. Each of us to our specialty.
    • Section 1
  • I find the world and all it contains extremely fascinating. Is this sinful?
    • Section 4
  • To devote oneself to vigilance when the enemy is an imaginary one is idle, and to congratulate oneself for looking long and well for a foe that is not coming is foolish and sinful. My life has been a waste.
    • Section 5

Thomas the Proclaimer (1972)Edit

All page numbers from the first edition of the story in The Day the Sun Stood Still (Book Club edition)
  • I never became a believer. I had a natural predisposition toward skepticism. If you can’t measure it, it isn’t there. That included not only Old Whiskers and His Only Begotten Son, but all the other mystic baggage that people liked to carry around in those tense credulous years: the flying saucers, Zen Buddhism, the Atlantis cult, Hare Krishna, macrobiotics, telepathy and other species of extrasensory perception, theosophy, entropy-worship, astrology, and such. I was willing to accept neutrinos, quasars, the theory of continental drift, and the various species of quarks, because I respected the evidence for their existence; I couldn’t buy the other stuff, the irrational stuff, the assorted opiates of the masses, When the Moon is in the seventh house, etc., etc.—sorry, no.
    • Chapter 3, “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters” (p. 76)
  • They could pray, they had the illusion that a divine plan governed this best of all possible worlds, while I was left in bleak, stormy limbo, dismally aware that the universe makes no sense and that the only universal truth there is is that Entropy Eventually Wins.
    • Chapter 3, “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters” (p. 76)
  • As we zoomed along on the Chaos Express, I was sometimes tempted toward godliness the way the godly are tempted toward sin. But my love of divine reason left me no way to opt for the irrational.
    • Chapter 3, “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters” (p. 77)
  • Anything big and strange always upsets the people in power.
    • Chapter 6, “The Woman Who Is Sore at Heart Reproaches Thomas” (p. 91)
  • May I be struck dead for saying this if I don’t mean it with all my heart: I wish the Lord and all his prophets would disappear and leave us alone. We’ve had enough religion for one season.
    • Chapter 11, “The March to the Sea” (p. 110)

Born with the Dead (1974)Edit

Novella which was nominated for the 1975 Hugo Award and won the 1974 Nebula Award. Originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (April 1974).
  • “Moas aren’t very bright,” Gracchus answers. “That’s one good reason why they became extinct.”
  • Architecturally, the town looked like the worst of all possible cheap-and-sleazy tract developments, but the psychic texture it projected was even more depressing, more like that of one of those ghastly retirement communities, one of the innumerable Leisure Worlds or Sun Manors, those childless joyless retreats where colonies of that other kind of living dead collected to await the last trumpet.
  • He didn’t have to observe the niceties of etiquette when talking to a computer.
  • Unacceptable, maybe. But not unthinkable. Nothing's unthinkable once somebody’s thought it.

Schwartz Between the Galaxies (1974)Edit

Short story which was nominated for the 1975 Hugo Award. Originally published in Stellar 1.
  • Schwartz closed his eyes. “My grandmother told me never to get mixed up with economists. Their thinking is muddy and their breath is bad, she said. She also warned me against Yale men. Perverts of the intellect, she called them. So here I am cooped up on an interstellar ship with five hundred alien creatures and one fellow human, and he has to be an economist from Yale.”
  • My life was in crisis. All my values were becoming meaningless. I was discovering that my chosen profession was empty, foolish, as useless as—as playing chess.
  • “Research, he calls it. Research.” Pitkin sneered. “Junkie!”
    Schwartz matched him sneer for sneer. “Economist!”

Homefaring (1983)Edit

Novella which was nominated for the 1983 Nebula Award. Originally published in Amazing Stories (November 1983).
  • It did not seem at all improbable to McCulloch now. The infinite fullness of time brings about everything, he thought: even intelligent lobsters, even a divine octopus.

Hot Times in Magma City (1995)Edit

All page numbers from the story included in the mass market paperback edition "Year's Best SF" edited by David G. Hartwell
  • The denizens of Citizens Service Houses are not, as a rule, gifted with a lot of common sense, but they often make up for that by being extremely argumentative and vindictive.
    • p. 56
  • I don't know, Mattison thinks. That’s cool. I don't know, and I hereby give myself permission not to know, and to hell with it.
    • p. 104

A Piece of the Great World (2005)Edit

All page numbers from the original publication of the story in "One Million A. D." edited by Gardner Dozois
  • She loaned him books. Worlds were revealed to him: worlds piled on worlds, worlds without end.
    • p. 79
  • Was that, too, destined to thrive awhile and decay and vanish, and be replaced by another, Nortekku wondered? Probably. The earth changes, he thought. Mountains rise, are ground to dust, give way to plains and valleys. Shorelines are drowned; new islands are thrust upward out of the sea. Civilizations are born, die, are forgotten. The planet alone abides, and all that dwells upon it is transient.
    Contemplating these things, he felt much the richer for all his freshly acquired knowledge. He felt that for the first time he comprehended, at least some small way, the great chain of existence, stretching across time from misty past to unborn future.
    • p. 80

The Emperor and the Maula (2007)Edit

All page numbers from the story included in the mass market paperback edition "The New Space Opera" edited by Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan
  • Aristocrats might shrug, but commoners, dreading any collapse of the social order, wanted the rules of behavior to be observed.
    • p. 443
  • I hate no one, sir. It seems a waste of emotional energy.
    • p. 463
  • Not all lawyers are annoying. Some are dead.
    • p. 476
  • Never pass by a chance to shut up.
    • p. 477

Up the Line (1969)Edit

  • Ignorance can’t be pardoned. Only cured.
    • Chapter 4

The Stochastic Man (1975)Edit

All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Fawcett Gold Medal Books
  • We are born by accident into a purely random universe.
    • Chapter 1, (p. 1; opening words)
  • In the absolute universe all events can be regarded as absolutely deterministic, and if we can’t perceive the greater structures, it’s because our vision is faulty. If we had a real grasp of causality down to the molecular level, we wouldn’t need to rely on mathematical approximations, on statistics and probabilities, in making predictions. If our perceptions of cause and effect were only good enough, we’d be able to attain absolute knowledge of what is to come. We would make ourselves all-seeing.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 11)
  • Gottfried, like any true dictator, liked to surround himself with bland obliging ciphers.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 27)
  • “This isn’t just consulting work, Haig. It means going into politics.”
    “What do I need it for?”
    “Nobody needs anything except a little food and water now and then. The rest is preferences.”
    • Chapter 8 (p. 33)
  • No man ever looked more like a President than Harding; it was his only qualification for the job, but it was enough to get him there.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 55)
  • So it is with all the great leaders: the commodity they have to sell is personality. Mere ideas can be left to lesser men.
    • Chapter 13 (p. 73)
  • It’s not a philosophy, Mr. Nichols. It’s an accommodation to the nature of reality.
    • Chapter 16 (p. 98)
  • Thus does the unyielding, inescapable future ineluctably devour the present.
    • Chapter 29 (p. 161)
  • I think we made love three times that final summer. Made love! Preposterous euphemism for fucking, almost as bad as the most grotesque of all, slept together. Whatever Sundara and I made, in those three pressings of flesh to flesh, love couldn’t have been the commodity; we made sweat, we made rumpled sheets, we made heavy breathing, we even made orgasms, but love? Love?
    • Chapter 29 (p. 162)

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