Avram Davidson

American writer (1923-1993)

Avram Davidson (April 23, 1923May 8, 1993) was an American writer of fantasy fiction, science fiction, and crime fiction.



Short fiction

Page numbers from the mass market first edition, published by Berkley Medallion; catalogue number F639
See Avram Davidson's Internet Science Fiction Database page for original publication details
  • “A conscientious and diligent scientist—”
    “—must remain a continual student,” a deep voice finished the quotation.
    • Help! I am Dr. Morris Goldpepper (p. 53)
  • When the records of our civilization are balanced, then—but perhaps not before—the real importance of dental science will be appreciated. Now it is merely valued at the moment of toothache.
    • Help! I am Dr. Morris Goldpepper (p. 59)
  • Well, rather an ague than a pox. A pox is something one wishes on editors…strange breed, editors. The females all have names like Lulu Ammabelle Smith or Minnie Lundquist Bloom, and the males have little horns growing out of their brows.
    • My Boy Friend’s Name is Jello (p. 94)
  • In general I find little girls enchanting. What a shame they grow up to be big girls and make our lives as miserable as we allow them, and oft-times more.
    • My Boy Friend’s Name is Jello (p. 95)
  • Bloodgood Bixbee knew nothing about art, but he knew what he didn’t like.
    • I Do Not Hear You, Sir (p. 123)
  • Things were seldom what they seemed. People feared to tempt powers spiritual or temporal or illegal by displays of well being, and the brick screens in from of (or behind, depending on whether one were going in or going out) the doors blocked both the gaze of the curious and the path of demons. Demons can travel only in straight lines; it is the sons of men whose ways are devious.
    • Dagon (p. 149)
All page numbers are from the first edition, published by Ace Books (catalogue number F-353).
  • Things oughtn’t to be the way they are, altogether. But letting a madman burn down the barn is no way to improve them.
    • Chapter V (p. 49)
  • Tell him you’ll pay any fine within reason. That dragon-cod can’t even read his own name unless it’s written in gold ink.
    • Chapter VII (p. 73)
  • There was an inn...which kept no register of...a number of seamstresses and tailors who lacked time and place and perhaps inclination to weave the cloths they cut and sewed, depending instead on the activities of those who preferred not to vex the original owners with the tiresome bookkeeping inseparable from purchase.
    • Chapter VIII (p. 81)
  • The beast is always doomed. It’s better to face the fact honestly and not pretty it up with a lot of lies about blowing off steam and reducing tensions and getting rid of this and that, acting out anxieties, moment of truth. Piddle. There’s an ancient word, I don’t know what language it is. Bazazz. All those arguments are a lot of bazazz. Unless you’re wiping out vermin or hunting for meat to eat, the man who kills animals does so because he likes to kill. And people who like to watch do so because they like to see things being killed.
    • Chapter XI (p. 137)
All page numbers are from the first edition, published by Pyramid Books (catalogue number R-1208).
  • “How is your new woman? Your new-est one, I sh’d say.”
    Jack shrugged. “Good enough. They all got the same thing.”
    “Yeh-es,” Jeff nodded, judiciously. “But some of ’m’s got more of it than others.”
    • Chapter 1 (p. 16)
  • Experience may be a bitter teacher, but She is a good one.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 19)
  • The instructor-Na has observed in the Na 14 tendencies toward an archaic and dangerous quality to which the ancients gave the name personal ambition.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 30)
  • Life continued, the wheel turned, the earth moved, and even death—that delightful biological necessity—was an aspect of life.
    • Chapter 4 (p. 57)
  • He who has slain one, will he abstain from slaying many?
    • Chapter 5 (p. 68)
  • The short man was all of a piece, but there was nothing reassuring in this; it was a piece of the same material that too many high school principals, boys’ camp directors, and military and naval officers are made of: a texture or quality often dignified by the description, “ability to command”—the desire to bully, override, bear down—the capacity to do so by virtue of office—the habit of having done so for a long time and the confidence of continuing to do so for a long time.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 85)
  • “The fact that you know the questions,” he said, a mite grudgingly, “tends to make me think you might really know the answers.”
    • Chapter 7 (p. 100)
  • “Follow me, men! I’m right behind you!”
    • Chapter 8 (p. 101)
  • I can tell you that only a fool destroys useful things merely because he doesn’t like them.
    • Chapter 8 (p. 108)
  • No greed was comparable to the appeal of self-sacrifice.
    • Chapter 10 (p. 143)
All page numbers are from the mass market paperback edition published by Manor Books (catalogue number 15227) in 1977.
  • “Don’t you see?”
    They did not see. This is the way things were done. Things were done this way. Things weren’t done another way. You did things the way you did things. You didn’t do things the way you didn’t do things.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 22)
  • Recall the instructor at the Academy: “What is Man, young aspirants? Man is an animal that trades…”
    • Chapter 2 (p. 37)
  • A querulous whine that was almost a question was succeeded by a deep gobble that was almost an answer.
    • Chapter 1
  • “Drew a knife on us,” one muttered, with the sullen rage of the bully who feels wronged when resisted.
    • Chapter 5
  • Hmm...hmm. A stag hunt. To what elaborate lengths the equestrian classes go in order to draw out the simple business of butchering venison.
    • Chapter 6
  • Where there is no bread, there is no philosophy.
    • Chapter 6
  • “There may be someone here who knows less about all this than I do,” Clemens said, “but I can’t imagine who.”
    • Chapter 6
  • Surely you’ll at least see the Temple? Respect all religions, is my motto, believe in none. Sensible principle. Still, you know, must say, after all, two thousand beautiful priestesses! All ready, willing, able—and I must say—dextrous!— to do their best to inspire male worshippers with love for their goddess, hah-hah!
    • Chapter 8
  • Rumor, I fear, is scarcely as accurate as he is rapid.
    • Chapter 9
  • But the Red Man denied that time, though it must always be paid for, could always be paid for in money.
    • Chapter 9
  • The ceremony was long and intricate, probably none of them could have explained why half of it was done, and the explanations for the other half would probably have been thoroughly incorrect.
    • Chapter 10
  • It is not in the nature of any people that it should willingly endure being ruled by another people, whether it is ruled ill or ruled well.
    • Chapter 10
  • Sorcery works against Nature, magic works with it.
    • Chapter 11
  • These precautions, perhaps because they had been taken, proved unnecessary.
    • Chapter 11
  • And then in that, admittedly magnificent, abrupt moment you saw what I concede without argument was the face of rather an attractive wench, and—Zeus! you weren’t thinking, man—you were simply reacting. It wasn’t your heart, it was your codpiece that the impulse came from!
    • Chapter 12
Novel nominated for the 1988 Nebula Award. There are no chapter divisions in this book.
  • Though you expel Nature with a pitchfork, she will always return.
  • Everything meant something, still, some meanings were revealed sooner than others. And that some were seemingly never revealed in no way disproved the fact.
  • It is not a very interesting night market, anyway. No wonderful things are sold there, though often one wonders, next day, how one could have bought them...
  • Clearly this was no time to ask if they should first define their terms. Nor, for that matter, had Socrates had to define the bowl of hemlock.
  • It had not been precisely a fruitful meeting, but it had been a long one.
  • She spun, as a matter of form and status alone, her woollen yarn and her oft-breaking thread. What else did she spin? he wondered. And the answer, not spoken aloud, was, a web.
    And one that now seemed sure to hold him fast.
    To hold him fast indeed.
  • It’s not a matter of who runs first or who runs last. It’s merely a matter of who gets caught.
  • It was but that, seeing him and so imagining that something about him was otherwise, automatically they feared him.
  • Seven cities claimed blind Homer, dead,
    Through which blind Homer, living, begged his bread.
  • It was a distinction without a difference.
  • Suppose Sisyphus to have been acquitted his need of forever toiling up his hill in Hell, would he have made the last journey in joy? Or would mere fatigue have extinguished all other emotion, as a torch extinguished in a sconce?
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