Daniel Abraham

speculative fiction writer from the United States

Daniel Abraham (born November 14, 1969) is a Hugo-nominated, American fantasy/science-fiction writer. He is the author of the The Long Price Quartet series and the The Dagger and the Coin series.

I want my villains to be understood and forgiven.

QuotesEdit

  • I was listening to Tim Powers talking and he said he didn't want his villains just defeated, he wanted them humiliated and destroyed. And I thought: 'I don't. I want my villains to be understood and forgiven.
  • Writers are a basically insecure bunch. We are convinced that everything we do sucks, all the time. It's something you have to fight. The best way to make sure that your writing will never be particularly good is to use it for something besides telling the story. And I think there's a real tension between sophistication and accessibility.
    • interview with Locus Magazine, June 2008
  • I don't find fantasy to be more or less suited to philosophical questions than any other genre, really. I think that the soul of fantasy—or second-world fantasy at least—is our problematic relationship with nostalgia. The impulse to return to a golden age seems to be pretty close to the bone, at least in western cultures, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if it's a human universal. For me, it's tied up with the experience of aging and the impulse to recapture youth. Epic fantasy, I think, takes its power from that. We create golden eras and either celebrate them or—more often—mourn their loss.
  • I think that the successful genres of a particular period are reflections of the needs and thoughts and social struggles of that time. When you see a bunch of similar projects meeting with success, you’ve found a place in the social landscape where a particular story (or moral or scenario) speaks to readers. You’ve found a place where the things that stories offer are most needed.
    And since the thing that stories most often offer is comfort, you’ve found someplace rich with anxiety and uncertainty. (That’s what I meant when I said to Melinda Snodgrass that genre is where fears pool.)
  • For the moment, it's called the Dagger and the Coin, but with any luck, that'll swap out for a better name. There are some things in the proposal that need to get smoothed out so that everyone's on board, but I think it'll happen.
    It's a very different from the Long Price books. It looks and feels more like traditional epic fantasy -- quasi-Europe, ferinstance, and some dragons in the background, no 15-year gaps between books -- but the plot structure is packed with everything I think is cool. There are echoes I'm intentionally building in of from things as familiar as Firefly and The Count of Monte Cristo and as obscure as Tevis' Queen's Gambit and Reck-Malleczewen's Diary of a Man in Despair. And the magic system is all about faith and deception, which will be tricky and fun both.
    What I want to do is write something that I could read now (39 years old, married, raising a kid, 10 year IT career behind me, post 9-11, post-Bush, etc.) with the same joy I read the Belgariad when I was 16.

The ExpanseEdit

All italics and ellipses as in the books.

Short fictionEdit

Drive (2012)Edit
Quotes from the e-book edition of Edge of Infinity, edited by Jonathan Strahan, and published by Solaris ISBN 978-1-84997-460-8
  • That’s what peace is, right? Postponing the conflict until the thing you were fighting over doesn’t matter.
  • A liberal arts background was a hard thing to overcome, but she was doing great.
The Churn (2014)Edit
All quotes from the e-book edition published by Orbit books ISBN 978-0-316-21766-8
  • She understood on a deep, animal level that sex was like music or language. It could express anything. Love, yes. Or anger, or bitterness, or despair. It could be a way to grieve or a way to take revenge. It could be a weapon or a nightmare or a solace. Sex was meaningless, and so it could mean anything.
  • Two points defined a line, but three defined the playing field.
  • The several unexamined assumptions in the argument remained unexamined.
  • “The second I saw those bastards coming down the street, I knew it was over for me. I’m dead. It’s just a matter of time is all.”
    “That’s always true,” Lydia said, her mind taken with other matters. “For everyone.”
Strange Dogs (2017)Edit
All quotes from the e-book edition published by Orbit Books ISBN 978-0-316-21757-6
  • She wanted to believe. But she also knew better.
  • All the ways they wanted to help her, but never asked how she wanted to be helped.
Auberon (2019)Edit
All quotes from the e-book edition published by Orbit Books ISBN 978-0-316-21767-5
  • And because it was the most habitable of the new planets by orders of magnitude, it was developed. Because it was developed, it was influential. Because it was influential, it was wealthy. And because it was wealthy, it was corrupt.
  • Klinger knew nothing about him but what she’d been told by Laconia. She would have been just as solicitous to anyone who had come in his position. And if someone else had been in her role, he would have treated them the same way he did her. They weren’t people to each other. They were roles. This was etiquette, and the inauthenticity of the situation oppressed him.
  • He found himself crafting the role of Governor Rittenaur as if he were acting a part in a play. He had come to notice when his own impulses were different from what Governor Rittenaur’s would be, and then bury his own judgment to give space to the requirement of his office. He was a professional impersonator of himself.
  • You’re young yet. I’m not. There’s this thing when you get older where you have to make a choice. Everyone does. You have to decide whether you care more about being your best self or your real one. If you’re more loyal to who you ought to be or who you really are.
  • It’s the basic problem with religion, be it Jesus or Vishnu or God Emperors. Ideological purity never survives contact with the enemy.

Leviathan Wakes (2011)Edit

All page numbers from the trade paperback first edition published by Orbit Books ISBN 978-1-335-00510-6
Published in collaboration with Ty Franck under the pseudonym James S. A. Corey
Nominated for the 2012 Hugo Award
  • Say what you will about organized crime, at least it’s organized.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 20)
  • If Miller had ever been called upon to describe her, the phrase deceptive coloration would have figured in.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 21)
  • “Too many dots,” Miller said. “Not enough lines.”
    • Chapter 10 (p. 109)
  • The enlisted guys will be okay, but the officers get the sense of humor trained out of ’em.
    • Chapter 11 (p. 113)
  • It was a real book—onionskin pages bound in what might have been actual leather. Miller had seen pictures of them before; the idea of that much weight for a single megabyte of data struck him as decadent.
    • Chapter 14 (p. 150)
  • If things got out of hand, it would mean six or seven million dead people and the end of everything Miller had ever known.
    Odd that it should feel almost like relief.
    • Chapter 16 (p. 164)
  • He couldn’t fix the cancer of war, couldn’t even slow down the spread, but at least he could admit it was happening.
    • Chapter 16 (p. 164)
  • She didn’t care. Not caring was how she got through the day.
    • Chapter 16 (p. 170)
  • “See, this is why I can’t ever be in command,” she said.
    “Don’t like making tough calls with incomplete information?”
    “More I’m not suicidally irresponsible,” she replied.
    • Chapter 17 (pp. 178-179)
  • The beautiful thing about losing your illusions, he thought, was that you got to stop pretending.
    • Chapter 18 (p. 184)
  • Never knew if you had any luck left unless you pushed it.
    • Chapter 18 (p. 187)
  • It’s the problem with politics. Your enemies are often your allies. And vice versa.
    • Chapter 19 (p. 194)
  • He probed himself like a doctor searching for inflammation. Did it hurt here? Did he feel the loss there?
    He didn’t. There was only a sense of relief so profound it approached giddiness.
    • Chapter 22 (p. 226)
  • All bluster, no balls.
    • Chapter 22 (p. 228)
  • This was the kind of man who’d killed Julie, Miller thought. Stupid. Shortsighted. A man born with a sense for raw opportunity where his soul should have been.
    • Chapter 28 (p. 281)
  • When, Miller wondered, does someone stop being human? There had to be a moment, some decision that you made and before it, you were one person, and after it, someone else...If he’d seen it in someone else—Muss, Havelock, Sematimba—he wouldn’t have taken more than a minute to realize they’d gone off the rails. Since it was him, he had taken longer to notice. But Holden was right. Somewhere along the line, he’d lost himself.
    • Chapter 28 (p. 284)
  • “There’s a right thing to do,” Holden said.
    “You don’t have a right thing, friend,” Miller said. “You’ve got a whole plateful of maybe a little less wrong.”
    • Chapter 36 (p. 363)
  • “We regret the necessity of this action,” she said to everyone everywhere. “But in the cause of freedom, there can be no compromise.”
    That’s what it’s come to, Miller thought, rubbing a hand across his chin. Pogroms after all. Cut off just a hundred more heads, just a thousand more heads, just ten thousand more heads, and then we’ll be free.
    • Chapter 36 (p. 364)
  • There was life out there. They had proof of it now. And the proof came in the shape of a weapon, so what did that tell him?
    • Chapter 38 (p. 379)
  • Holden decided that he was okay with not feeling any remorse for them. The moral complexity of the situation had grown past his ability to process it, so he just relaxed in the warm glow of victory instead.
    • Chapter 41 (p. 412)
  • Liquor doesn’t make you feel better. Just makes you not so worried about feeling bad.
    • Chapter 42 (p. 427)
  • “Stop,” Holden said. “I don’t care. I don’t want to hear any more of your stories about how being a cop makes you wiser and deeper and able to face the truth about humanity. As far as I can tell, all it did was break you. Okay?”
    “Yeah, okay.”
    “Dresden and his Protogen buddies thought they could choose who lives and who dies. That sound familiar? And don’t tell me it’s different this time, because everyone says that, every time. And it’s not.”
    • Chapter 43 (p. 437)
  • And now they were making music from the screams of the dying. Of the dead. The were dancing to it in the low-rent clubs. What it must be like, Miller thought, to be young and soulless.
    But no. That wasn’t fair. Diogo was a good kid. He was just naive. The universe would take care of that, given a little time.
    • Chapter 44 (p. 445)
  • Miller was staring at him like an entomologist trying to figure out exactly where the pin went.
    • Chapter 45 (p. 457)
  • If Fred couldn’t build himself a peace treaty, the OPA would never win against the discipline and unity of an inner planet navy. But they would also never lose. War without end.
    Well, what was history if not that?
    And how would having the stars change anything?
    • Chapter 46 (p. 467)
  • He considered recording it. His suit would be able to make a simple visual file and stream the data out in real time. But no. This was his moment. His and Julia’s. The rest of humanity could guess what it had been like if they cared.
    • Chapter 48 (p. 488)
  • It was as easy as keying in a door code. Somehow he felt that arming fusion bombs to detonate around him should have been more difficult.
    • Chapter 50 (p. 504)
  • He cut the connection before she could answer. Long goodbyes weren’t anyone’s strong suit.
    • Chapter 50 (p. 504)
  • That man could take a visitation from God with thirty underdressed angels announcing that sex was okay after all and make it seem vaguely depressing.
    • Epilogue (p. 560)

Caliban's War (2012)Edit

All page numbers from the trade paperback first edition published by Orbit Books ISBN 978-0-316-12906-0, 17th printing
Published in collaboration with Ty Franck under the pseudonym James S. A. Corey
  • The mirror plummeting toward the surface of Ganymede—toward his greenhouse, his soybeans, his life’s work—hadn’t chosen anything. It was a victim of cause and effect, the same as everything else.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 26)
  • The rich scent of well-balanced soil was like incense.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 76)
  • I’ve been through a lot of hearings about one damn thing and another. Most of the time they’re exercises in ass covering. If the unvarnished truth ever came out at one, it would be because someone screwed up.
    • Chapter 9 (pp. 93-94)
  • Do not underestimate his capacity to fuck things up.
    • Chapter 9 (p. 100)
  • The intensity of your feelings isn’t evidence.
    • Chapter 22 (p. 243)
  • “I’m not a traitor,” Bobbie said to her reflection in the mirror. Mirror Bobbie looked unconvinced.
    • Chapter 25 (p. 268)
  • Familiarity might breed contempt, but Bobbie hadn’t much liked Soren right from the start.
    • Chapter 25 (p. 272)
  • When Bobbie tried to imagine being so wealthy you could own a spaceship just to compete in races, she failed. That the same girl had run away to be an OPA rebel probably said a lot about the relationship of wealth and contentment, but Bobbie had a hard time being that philosophical.
    • Chapter 30 (pp. 329-330)
  • Owning your own racing ship wasn’t even wealth. It was like speciation. It was conspicuous consumption befitting ancient Earth royalty, a pharaoh’s pyramid with a reaction drive.
    • Chapter 30 (p. 330)
  • “That’s not the game,” Avasarala said. “No one gets shot. They get marginalized. It’s worse.”
    “No, it’s not. I’ve seen people shot. I’ve seen my friends shot. When you say, ‘That’s not the game,’ you mean for people like you. Not like me.”
    Avasarala’s expression cooled.
    “Yes, that’s what I mean,” the old woman said. “The level we’re playing at has different rules. It’s like playing go. It’s all about exerting influence. Controlling the board without occupying it.”
    “Poker is a game, too,” Bobbie said. “But sometimes the stakes get so high that one player decides it’s easier to kill the other guy and walk away with the money. It happens all the time.”
    • Chapter 30 (p. 331)
  • She’d stopped looking tired a while ago and had moved on to whatever tired turns into when it became a lifestyle.
    • Chapter 30 (p. 334)
  • “I’m not asking you to sleep with him.”
    “Good, because I don’t use sex as a weapon,” Bobbie said. “I use weapons as weapons.”
    • Chapter 30 (p. 335)
  • It took his breath away. The elegance and functionality of the structure lay out before him, as beautiful and simple and effective as a leaf or a root cluster. To have something so much like the fruits of evolution, but designed by human minds, was awe-inspiring. It was the pinnacle of what creativity meant, the impossible made real.
    • Chapter 31 (p. 344)
  • There was justice to be had.
    He just couldn’t afford it.
    • Chapter 31 (p. 350)
  • They were willing to risk a hole in the ship emptying out half the ship’s air rather than let her up to the bridge. It was sort of gratifying to be scarier than sudden decompression.
    • Chapter 38 (p. 420)
  • The proportions, the black hair, the dark eyes, everything was the same. Only, giant. It short-circuited his neural wiring. The lizard living at the back of his brain kept jumping back and forth between Mate with it! and Flee from it!
    • Chapter 42 (p. 459)
  • “No,” Avasarala said.
    “Uh, no? You might be forgetting whose ship you’re on.”
    “I’m sorry, did I seem to give a fuck that this is your ship? If I did, really, I was just being polite.”
    • Chapter 42 (p. 462)
  • Desperate psychotic people do desperate psychotic things when they’re exposed. I refuse to grant them immunity from exposure out of fear of their reaction. When you do, the desperate psychos wind up in charge.
    • Chapter 42 (p. 463)
  • “Reputation never has very much to do with reality,” she said. “I could name half a dozen paragons of virtue that are horrible, small-souled, evil people. And some of the best men I know, you’d walk out of the room if you heard their names. No one on the screen is who they are when you breathe their air.
    • Chapter 45 (p. 491)
  • “Why aren’t you doing that?”
    “Do you want the real reason, or my justification?”
    • Chapter 45 (p. 492)
  • The holy fool who’d dragged the solar system into war and seemed utterly blind to the damage he caused. An idealist. The most dangerous kind of man there was.
    • Chapter 45 (p. 493)
  • If life transcends death, then I will seek for you there. If not, then there too.
    • Chapter 45 (p. 494)
  • That man’s asshole must be tight enough right now to bend space.
    • Chapter 45 (p. 497)
  • The truth was her version wasn’t any more or less a fantasy than his. No one would know for sure until everyone knew for sure.
    • Chapter 47 (p. 510)
  • “Space is too fucking big. It’s the same old story.”
    He’d guessed right. She just wanted to talk, so he let her. “What story?”
    “Empire. Every empire grows until its reach exceeds its grasp. We started out fighting over who got the best branches in one tree. Then we climb down and fight over a few kilometers’ worth of trees. Then someone starts riding horses, and you get empires of hundreds or thousands of kilometers. Ships open up empire expansion across the oceans. The Epstein drive gave us the outer planets...”
    She trailed off and tapped out something on the comm panel. She didn’t volunteer who she was sending messages to, and Holden didn’t ask. When she was done, she said, “But the story is always the same. No matter how good your technology is, at some point you’ll conquer territory that you can’t hold on to.”
    “You’re talking about the outer planets?”
    “Not specifically,” she said, her voice growing soft and thoughtful. “I’m talking about the entire fucking concept of empire. The Brits couldn’t hold on to India or North America because why should people listen to a king who’s six thousand kilometers away?”
    • Chapter 47 (p. 511)
  • I hope we don’t start shooting, but what I hope will happen and what actually happens are almost never the same.
    • Chapter 47 (p. 514)
  • There was a time, Prax knew, that the violence would have bothered him. Not the blood or bodies. He’d spent more than enough time doing dissections and even autonomous-limb vivisection to be able to wall off what he was seeing from any particular sense of visceral horror. But that it was something done in anger, that the men and women he’d just seen blown apart hadn’t donated their bodies or tissues, would have affected him once. The universe had taken that from him, and he couldn’t say now exactly when it had happened. Part of him was numb, and maybe it always would be. There was a feeling of loss in that, but it was intellectual.
    • Chapter 51 (p. 563)
  • That night’s selection was called Windblown Grass. It didn’t exactly smell like grass to Holden, but it was nice. Just a hint of earthiness to it. Holden had a suspicion that all perfumes were named randomly, anyway.
    • Chapter 53 (p. 579)
  • That’s not a government, it’s a rugby scrum with a currency.
    • Chapter 53 (p. 582)

Abaddon's Gate (2013)Edit

All page numbers from the trade paperback first edition published by Orbit Books ISBN 978-0-316-12907-7, 1st printing
Published in collaboration with Ty Franck under the pseudonym James S. A. Corey
  • Even with all that metal and ceramic crammed into the same little corner of space, even with the relatively tiny thousand klicks across what was the inner face of the Ring, the chances that he’d run into anything were trivial. There was a lot more nothing than something.
    • Prologue (p. 6)
  • Ashford has only ever done a right thing because he’s afraid of being embarrassed. He’s a pretty uniform surrounding vacuum. And you can’t rely on that.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 29)
  • “We came out here with an operational plan,” she said. “If we start rewriting it every time we find an adjustment we’d like to make, we might as well not have bothered.”
    Privately, Bull thought the same thing, but with a different inflection. If he’d been XO, the operational plan would have been called a suggested guideline and only opened when he wanted a good laugh.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 51)
  • “Annie,” Tilly said. “If I wanted to suck vile fluids out of a flaccid and indifferent tube, I’d have stayed on Earth with my husband.”
    • Chapter 5 (p. 52)
  • What had been logical became dumb, and all it took was changing the context.
    • Chapter 9 (p. 94)
  • “Same here, Cap’n,” Amos said. “I got a lot of past in my past.”
    • Chapter 10 (p. 107)
  • There are no souls, Melba thought with a touch of pity. We are bags of meat with a little electricity running through them. No ghosts, no spirits, no souls. The only thing that survives is the story people tell about you. The only thing that matters is your name.
    • Chapter 11 (p. 121)
  • That kind of attention changes people, and it don’t make them better.
    • Chapter 11 (p. 122)
  • No one can blather on like a holy man with a trapped audience. Well, maybe a politician.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 128)
  • Theological anthropology is a lot simpler when humans are the only ones with souls.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 129)
  • Traveling between the planets had never eliminated murder. So many highly evolved primates in the same box for months on end, a certain death rate had to be expected.
    • Chapter 14 (p. 148)
  • It was a lesson he’d never forgotten. That humans only have so much emotional energy. No matter how intense the situation, or how powerful the feelings, it was impossible to maintain a heightened emotional state forever. Eventually you’d just get tired and want it to end.
    • Chapter 22 (p. 230)
  • If you’re aiming not to creep me the hell out, you need more practice.
    • Chapter 25 (p. 264)
  • “I don’t think he sees it that way,” Pa said. And then, “But I think he’s putting a lot of effort into not seeing it that way.”
    • Chapter 29 (p. 313)
  • Her fantasies of it were so strong, they were like memories.
    • Chapter 31 (p. 329)
  • “Trashy people puke,” Tilly said. “Ladies are unwell.”
    • Chapter 31 (p. 331)
  • History is made up of people recovering from the last disaster.
    • Chapter 32 (p. 335)
  • “The devil is here,” Cortez said. He shook his head at Anna’s protesting frown. “Not some cartoon demon. I’m not a fool. But the devil has always lived in men when they reach too far, when they fail to ask if they should do something just because they can do it.”
    • Chapter 32 (pp. 335-336)
  • Show a human a closed door, and no matter how many open doors she finds, she’ll be haunted by what might be behind it.
    A few people liked to paint this drive as a weakness. A failing of the species. Humanity as the virus. The creature that never stops filling up its available living space. Hector seemed to be moving over to that view, based on their last conversation. But Anna rejected that idea. If humanity were capable of being satisfied, then they’d all still be living in trees and eating bugs out of one another’s fur. Anna had walked on a moon of Jupiter. She’d looked up through a dome-covered sky at the great red spot, close enough to see the swirls and eddies of a storm larger than her home world. She’d tasted water thawed from ice as old as the solar system itself. And it was that human dissatisfaction, that human audacity, that had put her there.
    Looking at the tiny world spinning around her, she knew one day it would give them the stars as well.
    • Chapter 32 (p. 337)
  • “I’m getting a medal for falling into a pressure hatch, sacrificing an arm and a leg to keep seven sailors from being trapped in a compromised part of the ship. I was unconscious at the time, but that doesn’t seem to matter. Heroism is a label most people get for doing shit they’d never do if they were really thinking about it.”
    • Chapter 32 (p. 338)
  • Nothing ever killed more people than being afraid to look like a sissy.
    • Chapter 35 (p. 365)
  • If the UN wants to space her, I’ll push the damn button myself.
    • Chapter 36 (p. 375)
  • After a certain point, the past becomes irrelevant.
    • Chapter 38 (pp. 387-388)
  • God might not care about financial standing, but He was the only one.
    • Chapter 39 (p. 398)
  • We keep acting without thinking and you think the solution is to do it one more time. You have allied yourself with stupid, violent men, and you are trying to convince yourself that being stupid and violent will work. That makes you stupid too. I will never help you. I’ll fight you now.
    • Chapter 39 (p. 404)
  • He still wasn’t sure whether he believed it was true, even. But right now, it needed to be, and so it was.
    • Chapter 41 (p. 423)
  • I’ve been famous before. It’s not so great.
    • Chapter 43 (p. 436)
  • Violence is what people do when they run out of good ideas. It’s attractive because it’s simple, it’s direct, it’s almost always available as an option. When you can’t think of a good rebuttal for your opponent’s argument, you can always punch them in the face.
    • Chapter 44 (p. 444)
  • She wondered what it said about her that she’d watched a woman shot to death not two hours before and all she could think about now was lunch.
    • Chapter 46 (p. 466)
  • There’s a difference between tragedy and evil, and I am that difference.
    • Chapter 46 (p. 468)
  • When what came next didn’t matter, anybody could do anything. Nothing had consequences.
    • Chapter 46 (p. 472)
  • They’d made a plan, and so far everything was more or less going the way they’d hoped. The thought left Holden increasingly terrified.
    • Chapter 47 (p. 475)
  • Holden yelled in frustration. The universe kept waiting until he was thoroughly beaten, then tossing him a nibble of hope only to yank it away again.
    • Chapter 50 (p. 509)
  • “Well,” Holden said, his voice grim, “we have a major problem. We’re out of coffee.”
    “We’ve still got beer,” Amos said.
    “Yes,” Holden said. “But beer is not coffee. I’ve put in a request with the Behemoth, but I haven’t heard back, and I can’t see going into the vast and unknown void without coffee.”
    • Chapter 53 (pp. 529-530)
  • She was not a political creature. She felt that politics was the second most evil thing humanity had ever invented, just after lutefisk.
    • Epilogue (p. 538)

Cibola Burn (2014)Edit

All page numbers from the hardcover American first edition published by Orbit Books ISBN 978-0-316-21762-0, 1st printing
Published in collaboration with Ty Franck under the pseudonym James S. A. Corey
  • “At least he cares,” Elvi said. “I like him for that.”
    “You like everyone,” Fayez teased. It’s your pathology.”
    “You don’t like anyone.”
    “That’s mine,” he said, grinning.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 23)
  • Dead’s not good, but at least it’s simple.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 27)
  • “Dammit,” Holden said after he’d killed the connection. “You ever get the sense that the universe is out to get you?”
    “Sometimes I get the sense that the universe is out to get you,” Amos said with a grin. “It’s fun to watch.”
    • Chapter 2 (p. 42)
  • You mean you want me to make it look like you’re doing something while you figure out what to do.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 47)
  • Some secrets stayed secrets because nobody knew them. Some because nobody told.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 55)
  • Everything was an artifact of its function. That’s what made evolution so gorgeous.
    • Chapter 6 (p. 64)
  • “We’re the ones who followed the rules here. We came with science teams and a hard dome. We hired them to build our landing platform, and they killed us. We’re the good guys here.”
    “And the moral high ground is a lovely place,” Marwick said, as if he were agreeing. “It won’t stop a missile, though.”
    • Chapter 15 (p. 156)
  • The engineers groaned and shook their heads. Legal arguments were another phrase for bullshit to them.
    • Chapter 19 (p. 193)
  • Human brains needed an answer, even if they had to make up something they knew was bullshit.
    • Chapter 22 (p. 219)
  • You can order the sun to come up if you time it right.
    • Chapter 23 (p. 237)
  • I hate that it breaks down that way. Your side and mine. One of my teachers back in school always used to say that contagion was the one absolute proof of community. People could pretend there weren’t drug users and prostitutes and unvaccinated children all they wanted, but when the plague came through, all that mattered was who was actually breathing your air.
    • Chapter 27 (p. 277)
  • “Still. Maybe some good can come out of it.”
    “I admire your psychotic optimism.”
    • Chapter 30 (p. 309)
  • It was less fun being the chosen one and prophet when the gods were violent and capricious and their spokesman was insane and powerless.
    • Chapter 34 (p. 345)
  • There were a lot of holes in that logic that he carefully avoided thinking about.
    • Chapter 39 (p. 400)
  • “Right,” Holden said. “No coffee. This is a terrible, terrible planet.”
    • Chapter 41 (p. 421)
  • From where he was, the fear had stopped being an emotion and turned into an environment.
    • Chapter 45 (p. 458)
  • There was no point to the attack except spite and the kind of violence that passed for meaning in the face of despair.
    • Chapter 45 (p. 464)
  • They fought and worked and devised intricate plans to buy more time. Basia had no doubt that they’d work just as hard to keep each other alive for even a few more minutes. It wasn’t something he’d ever had to think about before. But it did seem to be a microcosm of everything in life. No one lived forever. But you fought for every minute you could get. Bought a little more with a lot of hard work.
    • Chapter 47 (p. 481)
  • “Is that you?” Holden asked in what he was pretty sure was the new universal winner for stupid questions.
    • Chapter 48 (p. 488)
  • But, like so many things in life, when you come to the spot where you’re supposed to do the rituals, you do them.
    • Chapter 48 (p. 491)
  • “They say revenge is empty.”
    “This is my first try at it,” Holden said. “Forgive me if my opinions on it are fairly unformed.”
    • Chapter 53 (p. 537)
  • She isn’t stupid, but she’s learning to fake it.
    • Epilogue (p. 575)
  • That was the danger of being old and a politician. Habits outlived the situations that created them. Policies remained in place after the situations that inspired them had changed. The calculus of all human power was changing, and the models she used to make sense of it shifted with them, and she had to keep reminding herself that the past was a different place. She didn’t live there anymore.
    • Epilogue (p. 576)

Nemesis Games (2015)Edit

All page numbers from the hardcover American first edition published by Orbit Books ISBN 978-0-316-21758-3, 1st printing
Published in collaboration with Ty Franck under the pseudonym James S. A. Corey
  • “You familiar with the land rush in North America?”
    “Yeah,” Holden said, then took a sip of Fred’s coffee. It was delicious. Earth grown, and rich. The privileges of rank. “I got your covered wagon reference. I grew up in Montana, you know. That frontier shit is still the story the people there tell about themselves.”
    “So you know that the mythology of manifest destiny hides a lot of tragedy. Many of those covered wagons never made it. And more than a few of the people who did wound up as cheap labor for the railroads, mines, and rich farmers.”
    Holden drank his coffee and watched the ship construction. “Not to mention all the people who were living there before the covered wagons showed up and gave everyone a nifty new plague.”
    • Chapter 1 (p. 14)
  • Just once I’d like to be rewarded for my optimistic view of humanity.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 18)
  • We’re still humans after all. Some percentage of us are always going to be assholes.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 20)
  • Naomi couldn’t tell if she was more astounded by how much things had changed or how little.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 32)
  • Some things stayed secrets even when you told them.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 33)
  • She could remember the girl she used to be with fondness, but it wasn’t a youth she cared to recapture.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 34)
  • “So you’re trying to get me prepared for one of my crew dying?”
    “Historically speaking, humans are pretty much at a hundred percent on that.”
    • Chapter 3 (p. 36)
  • Like the roaches and the rats, ants had learned to live with their human neighbors without much trouble. When the concrete of human cities spread across the globe and half the animals on Earth were on endangered lists, no one had worried about the ants. They were doing fine, thanks, and spilled fast food was just as plentiful and delicious as dead forest animals had once been.
    Adapt or die.
    • Chapter 4 (p. 42)
  • “You look old, Fred.”
    “I feel old. But it’s better than the alternative.”
    • Chapter 5 (p. 53)
  • Holden couldn’t tell if she was melancholy or solving a complex engineering problem in her head. Those looks were confusingly similar.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 56)
  • It was beautiful at this distance. The cities nothing but firefly twinkles on the dark side. Where the sun struck the Earth, almost nothing man had made was visible from the lunar orbit. The planet looked clean, unspoiled.
    It was a pretty lie.
    Seemed like a fact of the universe that the closer you got to anything, the worse it looked. Take the most beautiful person in the solar system, zoom in on them at the right magnification and they were an apocalyptic cratered landscape crawling with horrors. That’s what the Earth was. A shining jewel from space, up close a blasted landscape covered with mites living by devouring the dying.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 74)
  • But under it there was a faint, not-unpleasant odor of rotting seaweed and salt. The ocean, just outside, seeped into everything. An olfactory reminder to everyone passing through the Ellis Island of the space age that Earth was absolutely unique to the human race. The birthplace of everything. The salt water flowing in everyone’s veins first pulled from the same oceans right outside the building. The seas had been around longer than humans, had helped create them, and then when they were all dead, it’d take their water back without a thought.
    That, at least, wasn’t a lie.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 76)
  • Computers, it seemed, could be programmed to do almost anything but sense when someone was up to no good.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 76)
  • “Long story, but the point is that if you hear hoofbeats in the distance, your first guess is that they’re horses, not zebras. And you’re hearing hoofbeats and jumping straight to unicorns.”
    “So what are you saying?”
    “I’m saying let’s go see if we can find some horses or zebras before we start a unicorn hunt.”
    • Chapter 8 (p. 86)
  • You can tell you’ve found a really interesting question when nobody wants you to answer it.
    • Chapter 8 (p. 92)
  • Secrecy is the potting soil in which all this conspiracy shit grows. Trust me. The roaches don’t like it when you start shining a light on them.
    • Chapter 13 (p. 140)
  • Alex’s experience of real family—of blood relations—was more like having a lot of people who had all wound up on the same mailing list without knowing quite why they signed up for it.
    • Chapter 15 (p. 163)
  • Realizing you’ve got shit on your fingers is the first step toward washing your hands.
    • Chapter 20 (p. 209)
  • You think you know what I am, she thought, but all you’ve got is stories.
    • Chapter 21 (p. 222)
  • In order to be heard by the oppressing class, one must speak as a member of it. Not only the language, but the diction. The accusation of tyranny, however well-founded in fact, is dismissed unless it is delivered in the manner that power recognizes as powerful.
    • Chapter 21 (p. 223)
  • Something in the back of her head shifted. The serpent of learned helplessness long asleep starting to wake. She pretended it wasn’t there, in hopes that if she denied it enough, it wouldn’t exist.
    • Chapter 21 (p. 225)
  • “Sometimes you don’t get redeemed,” she said, and here voice made it clear she’d thought about the question. Tired and strong at the same time. “Not every stain comes out. Sometimes you do something bad enough that you carry the consequences for the rest of your life and take the regrets to the grave. That’s your happy ending.”
    • Chapter 22 (p. 233)
  • “You think we’re going to die?”
    “Yup.”
    “Of this?”
    “Maybe.”
    • Chapter 24 (p. 252)
  • “You are a special flower.”
    “Well, sure. Just not used to anybody appreciating it.”
    • Chapter 24 (p. 255)
  • The only right you have with anyone in life is the right to walk away.
    • Chapter 25 (p. 270)
  • “I never thought I’d feel wind again. I never thought I’d be outside. It’s so beautiful.”
    Amos glanced around the ruins and shrugged. “That’s got a lot to do with context, I guess.”
    • Chapter 26 (p. 280)
  • His head hurt. His back hurt. He couldn’t feel his legs. It was all distressing until his mind came back enough for him to realize it meant he hadn’t died.
    • Chapter 27 (p. 282)
  • The aliens that sent the protomolecule hadn’t needed to destroy humanity. They’d given humans the opportunity to destroy themselves, and as a species, they’d leaped on it.
    • Chapter 27 (pp. 291-292)
  • History’s made of surprises that seem obvious in retrospect.
    • Chapter 28 (p. 296)
  • That sounds like post hoc realpolitik rationalizing bullshit.
    • Chapter 28 (p. 298)
  • “I try to do the right thing, Holden. But there are times when it’s not obvious what that is.”
    “I agree with you,” Holden said. “Right up to the part where you tell me this is one of those times.”
    • Chapter 28 (p. 298)
  • She knew intellectually that he was beautiful, the way the iridescent wings of a carrion fly would be.
    • Chapter 29 (p. 309)
  • Militia motherfucker. NO TRESPASSING signs and everything. Took a potshot at me when I went to ask for some water. Kind of asshole that’s probably pissing himself with glee that the world went to shit and made his stashed guns and paranoia pay off.
    • Chapter 30 (p. 316)
  • Thing about civilization, it’s what keeps people civil. You get rid of one, you can’t count on the other.
    • Chapter 30 (p. 316)
  • Thing is, we’re humans. We’re tribal. More settled things are, the bigger your tribe is. All the people in your gang, or all the people in your country. All the ones on your planet. Then the churn comes, and the tribe gets small again.
    • Chapter 30 (p. 317)
  • Amazing how much we’ve managed to do, considering how we’re doing it all with jumped-up social primates and evolutionary behaviors from the Pleistocene.
    • Chapter 31 (p. 325)
  • She wanted to care, but she didn’t. She didn’t have time.
    • Chapter 32 (p. 338)
  • “Panicking people for no reason—”
    “Panicking at this point isn’t unreasonable,” Monica said. “And deciding for people what they should get to know so they do what you think they should do? That isn’t how the good guys act, and you know it. It’s paternalistic, it’s condescending, and it’s beneath you. Maybe not them, The political movers and shakers. But it’s beneath you.”
    • Chapter 33 (p. 350)
  • There was no amount of double-checking that would ever prove that nothing had been missed.
    • Chapter 36 (p. 379)
  • Bobbie sighed. “You know, a thousand of those stars out there are ours now. That’s like, what? Three ten-thousandths of a percent of our galaxy? That’s what we’re fighting over.”
    “You think?”
    “You don’t?”
    “Nah,” Alex said. “I figure we’re fighting over who gets the most meat from the hunt and first access to the water hole. Mating rights. Who believes in which gods. Who has the most money. The usual primate issues.”
    “Kids,” Bobbie said.
    “Kids?”
    “Yeah. Everyone wanting to make sure their kids have a better shot than they did. Or than everyone else’s kids. Something like that.”
    “Yeah, probably,” Alex said.
    • Chapter 37 (p. 384)
  • “My own kind,” she said. “Let me tell you about my own kind. There are two sides in this, but they aren’t inner planets and outer ones. Belters and everyone else. It’s not like that. It’s the people who want more violence and the ones who want less. And no matter what other variable you sample out of, you’ll find some of both.”
    • Chapter 39 (p. 410)
  • “See, that’s what civilization is,” he said. “Bunch of stories. That’s all.”
    “So what if it is?” Peaches said. “We’re really good at telling stories.”
    • Chapter 40 (pp. 417-418)
  • “It’s good being young,” he said, “but some people wear it better than others.”
    • Chapter 42 (p. 432)
  • He told himself that, but he was getting less and less persuasive. Not knowing was the worst thing. The second-worst thing as being chased by a bunch of top-of-the-line warships that really wanted to kill you.
    • Chapter 43 (p. 442)
  • She grinned to herself. Safe. That sounded like a good plan. She should try that for a change.
    • Chapter 44 (p. 450)
  • “Seriously?”
    “Yep.”
    “That’s a really stupid way to go through life.”
    “It’s how most people do.”
    “Then most people are really stupid.”
    • Chapter 45 (p. 460)
  • He wasn’t a man who reined in his curiosity well.
    • Chapter 47 (p. 476)
  • Sometimes when we make these distinctions, we’re really creating them more than describing anything that’s already there.
    • Chapter 48 (p. 488)
  • “Hell no,” Jim said when they were alone in the suite. “Absolutely no. No fucking way, no. There have got to be a billion different ways to say no, and I’d still have to cycle through them a couple times to really express the depth of no on this one. Clarissa Mao? On the Roci? How is that anything but a massive load of let’s-not-do-that?”
    • Chapter 51 (p. 513)
  • She felt like her soul was a handful of dice that were still rolling, and what came up would decide the shape that the rest of her life took.
    • Chapter 51 (p. 514)
  • Things changed, and they didn’t change back. But sometimes they got better.
    • Chapter 51 (p. 519)
  • Humanity was so flawed. Not just her, but everyone. Half the population was below average intelligence. Half below average dedication. Average adherence to duty. The cruel law of statistics. It was astounding that as a race they’d managed as much as they had.
    • Epilogue (p. 525)

Babylon's Ashes (2016)Edit

All page numbers from the hardcover first edition published by Orbit Books ISBN 978-0-316-33474-7, 1st printing
Published in collaboration with Ty Franck under the pseudonym James S. A. Corey
  • History, Michio believed, was a long series of surprises that seemed inevitable in retrospect.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 13)
  • “Me? You don’t want to judge anything by me. I don’t even trust God.”
    “You are absolutely the worst mystic ever,” Pa said, but she said it laughing.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 55)
  • All of them do what they think is right, and tell themselves that they’re moral people with the strength to do the necessary things, however terrible they seem at the time. Every atrocity that has been done to us had someone behind it who thought what they did was justified. And here I am. A moral person with the strength to do this. Because it’s justified.
    • Chapter 15 (p. 154)
  • Sex was one of those things where the way it was supposed to work and the way it worked for him didn’t always match up real well. He knew all the stuff about love and affection, and that just seemed like making shit up. He understood making shit up. He also understood how people talked about it, and he could talk about it that way just to fit in.
    • Chapter 35 (p. 346)
  • A decent idea now is way better than a brilliant plan when it’s too late.
    • Chapter 35 (p. 351)
  • If we’re not willing to win the fight, I’m not sure what we’re doing in the cage.
    • Chapter 35 (p. 353)
  • How many millions of times had people had this exact conversation before? How many wars had put two people together for a moment and then washed them apart? There had to be a tradition of it. A secret history of vulnerability and want and all the things that sex promised and only occasionally delivered. They were just one more couple among all the countless others. It only hurt this time because it was them.
    • Chapter 37 (p. 372)
  • History itself was a massive n=1 study, irreproducible. It was what made it so difficult to learn from.
    • Chapter 38 (p. 376)
  • Avasarala stretched her right leg, feeling the ache in it. It would be worse in the morning. Lifting weights was an argument against a benign God. As if that needed more evidence.
    • Chapter 38 (p. 382)
  • It was the widest concerted attack ever. Hundreds of ships on at least four sides. Dozens of stations, millions of lives.
    Among the stars, it didn’t stand out.
    • Chapter 39 (p. 393)
  • Djuna had stopped letting him watch the local newsfeeds at breakfast on the weekends. Too many stories about bodies being found in unfortunate conditions. Too many missing people, too many espionage claims, too many reminders from the still-official security apparatus that Pinkwater was an unaffiliated corporate entity with no political litmus tests and only the safety and well-being of the citizens of Ganymede at heart. The sorts of things people said because they weren’t true.
    • Chapter 40 (pp. 394-395)
  • “That’s the problem with things you can’t do twice,” Naomi said. “You can’t ever know how it would have gone if it had been the other way.”
    “No. But you can say that if we don’t do something different, it’ll happen again. And again. And again, over and over until something changes the game.”
    • Chapter 43 (p. 428)
  • The universe was filled with mysteries and beauty and awe, and all that they could manage to do with it was this. Chase each other down and see who was the faster draw.
    • Chapter 46 (p. 458)
  • Josep grunted. “Could be prophecy.”
    “Could be that the universe doesn’t give a shit about us or anything we do and your mystic bullshit’s just a way we try to pretend otherwise.”
    • Chapter 48 (p. 482)
  • “An unshakable faith in humanity.”
    “It’s true,” he said, shaking his head. Or maybe nuzzling a little. “Against all evidence, I keep thinking the assholes are outliers.”
    • Chapter 49 (pp. 486-487)
  • “Dying’s not an art project.”
    “Maybe it should be.”
    • Chapter 49 (p. 490)
  • “Hey,” Holden said. “Do you know what Planck’s constant is?”
    “Six point six two six plus change times ten to the negative thirty-fourth meters squared kilos per second?”
    “Sure, why not,” Holden said, raising one finger. “But do you know why it’s that and not six point seven whatever the rest of it was?”
    Naomi shook her head.
    “Neither does anyone else. They still call it science. Most of what we know isn’t why things are what they are. We just figure out enough about how they work that we can predict the next thing that’s going to happen. That’s what you’ve got. Enough to predict. And if you think you’re right, then I do too. So let’s do this.”
    • Chapter 50 (p. 496)
  • She’d ended with I’ll do whatever I can, but you might have to make do with being avenged.
    • Chapter 50 (p. 497)
  • If wars began with rage, they ended with exhaustion.
    • Chapter 52 (p. 512)
  • Politics is the art of the possible, Captain Pa. When you play at our level, grudges cost lives.
    • Chapter 52 (p. 515)
  • Some things were secret even after you told them.
    • Chapter 53 (p. 526)

Persepolis Rising (2017)Edit

All page numbers from the hardcover first edition published by Orbit Books ISBN 978-0-316-33283-5, 1st printing
Published in collaboration with Ty Franck under the pseudonym James S. A. Corey
  • Time was supposed to heal all wounds. To Drummer, that was just a nice way of saying that if she waited long enough, none of the things that seemed important to her would turn out to matter. Or at least not the way she’d thought they did.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 14)
  • Time healed all wounds, but it didn’t erase the scars so much as decorate them.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 20)
  • As an old drill sergeant had told her, pain is the warrior’s friend. Pain reminds you that you aren’t dead yet.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 26)
  • The imperial view, a history professor at the Naval Academy once said, is the long view. Individuals build empires because they want their names to echo through time. They build massive constructs of stone and steel so that their descendants will remember the people who created the world that they only live in. There were buildings on Earth that were thousands of years old, sometimes the only remaining evidence of empires that thought they would last forever. Hubris, the professor had called it. When people build, they are trying to make an aspiration physical. When they die, their intentions are buried with them. All that’s left is the building.
    • Chapter 3 (pp. 35-36)
  • Collaboration with the dead left questions that could never be answered.
    • Chapter 8 (p. 87)
  • The question wasn’t whether moving psychoactive alien seedpods between worlds was a good idea so much as whether someone was going to lose face in front of a committee meeting. Thus were the great decisions of history made.
    • Chapter 10 (p. 109)
  • “Emily,” Drummer said, “do you know the one thing I am absolutely sure won’t fix any of our problems? Another committee.”
    • Chapter 10 (p. 111)
  • She couldn’t beat sense into a stone. Not even when it seemed fun to try.
    • Chapter 11 (p. 122)
  • I mean, I’m all for forgiveness and bygones being bygones, but it’s easier to stomach that after the assholes are all dead.”
    • Chapter 11 (p. 123)
  • Her shoulders were tight. She felt like they were in the moment between throwing dice and seeing what numbers had come up. The gambler’s high. She didn’t like how much she liked it.
    • Chapter 11 (pp. 124-125)
  • “It’s reading as an incredibly strong magnetic field focused down to a narrow beam.”
    “Is that possible?” the duty officer said, her voice small and tight.
    “Only if you define ‘possible’ as things that have already happened,” Naomi said, not turning to look at her.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 132)
  • All the food chemists in the system will never do better than evolution at making a decent tea leaf.
    • Chapter 13 (p. 143)
  • Everyone spies on everyone, Camina. Let’s not pretend to be outraged at water for being wet.
    • Chapter 13 (p. 147)
  • A brig had rules. It had expectations. You were in a brig until your lawyer or union rep came to talk to you. There would be hearings. If it went badly, there was prison. One thing followed another, and everyone called it justice, even when they all knew it was an approximation at best.
    • Chapter 17 (p. 186)
  • “See if there’s anyone out there with a plan, or if we’re going to have to make one up on our own.”
    “We can do that,” Amos said. “Shouldn’t be hard.”
    “You sure?” Alex said. “This is Medina Station under occupation by a bunch of splinter Martian military expats. It’s not Baltimore.”
    Amos’ smile was as placid as always. “Everywhere’s Baltimore.”
    • Chapter 18 (pp. 195-196)
  • Our backup plan is everyone does this right the first time so we don’t need a backup plan. Understood?
    • Chapter 22 (p. 235)
  • Drummer had read somewhere that newsfeeds were where secular societies went to find out what cultural narratives were important and what could be ignored.
    • Chapter 23 (p. 247)
  • Put a dozen people in front of their cameras, and you’d wind up with thirteen opinions.
    • Chapter 23 (p. 247)
  • If they kill us all, Drummer thought, this will be why. Not their technology, not their strategy, not the invisible cycle of history. It’ll be our inability to do anything without five committee meetings to talk about it.
    • Chapter 23 (p. 248)
  • “All we need is one lucky break,” she said. “One thing to go our way, and your logistical mastermind who would never overreach loses his capital ship in front of everyone who’s watching. And I think everyone is watching.”
    “They are,” Avasarala agreed with a sigh. “But …”
    “But what?”
    Avasarala’s smile was thin, hard, and bitter. Her eyes flashed with an intelligence poisoned by despair. “But it isn’t hubris until he’s failed.”
    • Chapter 23 (p. 251)
  • It was, to say the least, a very high cost and very low probability of success. Singh assumed there was a faith element to the risk that he was just missing. In his opinion, faith was generally for people who were bad at math.
    • Chapter 24 (pp. 255-256)
  • Patriotism was weird shit.
    • Chapter 25 (p. 267)
  • Insects buzzed about, still the best-designed pollinating system there was. Technology did a lot of things well, but evolution had it beat when it came to environmental systems.
    • Chapter 26 (p. 276)
  • She had to remind herself that war was always this way. Had always been. Cities had been falling under siege since the time there were cities. Mortars had fallen on schools. Soldiers had stormed hospitals. Bombs had set churches and parks and children on fire. Homes had been lost before now.
    • Chapter 27 (pp. 281-282)
  • That says more about you than about the reality of things.
    • Chapter 27 (p. 283)
  • Bobbie felt the pressure of time slipping away like she was watching a door close, with her on the wrong side of it.
    • Chapter 29 (p. 301)
  • The sad fact of the human species that High Consul Duarte understood so well was that you could never overcome tribalism and jingoism with an argument. Tribalism was an irrational position, and it was impossible to defeat an irrational position with a rational argument.
    • Chapter 30 (p. 310)
  • The universe was tricky, and its sense of humor came with teeth.
    • Chapter 34 (p. 352)
  • “I mean it happened at the same time, but that’s the thing. Time doesn’t actually work like that. ‘The same time’ is a weird linguistic fantasy. It doesn’t exist. Simultaneity doesn’t act like this.”
    • Chapter 34 (p. 355)
  • It was always dangerous when the universe fell down in a pattern where the thing you wanted and the wise path were the same.
    • Chapter 34 (p. 358)
  • Still. She had hoped. It never hurt to hope, except when it did.
    • Chapter 36 (p. 369)
  • “When we get out,” she said. “Not if. When. We’re going to need a plan. If every ship just bolts off on its own, we’ll lose contact. They shouldn’t know where we went, but we should. At the very least, we should have a record of who went where. This every-man-for-himself-and-God-against-all shit’s romantic, but we have to plan for something past just this.”
    • Chapter 36 (p. 377)
  • “We’ll get him,” Alex said. “We’ll always get him back.”
    “Sure we will. Until the time we don’t,” she said. “It’s like this for everyone. There’s always going to be a last time, eventually.”
    • Chapter 37 (p. 383)
  • “So why do you hate us? If you don’t mind my asking.”
    “You personally? I don’t. But this conquistador bullshit? It’s true I don’t think much of it.”
    Singh leaned back in his chair, cocked his head. “This is all a conversation about politics for you, then? It matters to you that much whose vision guides the government, no matter what that vision is?”
    “Not that academic,” Holden said. “I’ve spent a lot of years trying to get people to get along without anyone’s boot being on anyone’s neck. Your plan A is what I’ve spent a lifetime pushing against.”
    “Do you really think we’re so bad? Look at what we’ve done, how we’ve done it. We haven’t opened fire on a single ship that didn’t attack us first. In all of history, when has a conqueror been able to say that? We have embraced local rule. Any of the colony worlds that submits can make their own local government, keep their own local customs—”
    “Unless they conflict with your rules.”
    “Of course.”
    Holden sipped his coffee. “That’s the thing. The people you’re controlling don’t have a voice in how you control them. As long as everyone’s on the same page, things may be great, but when there’s a question, you win. Right?”
    “There has to be a way to come to a final decision.”
    “No, there doesn’t. Every time someone starts talking about final anythings in politics, that means the atrocities are warming up. Humanity has done amazing things by just muddling through, arguing and complaining and fighting and negotiating. It’s messy and undignified, but it’s when we’re at our best, because everyone gets to have a voice in it. Even if everyone else is trying to shout it down. Whenever there’s just one voice that matters, something terrible comes out of it.”
    • Chapter 38 (pp. 393-394)
  • “The high consul is a very wise, very thoughtful man,” he said. “I have perfect faith that—”
    “No. Stop. ‘Perfect faith’ really tells me everything I need to know,” Holden said. “You think this is a gentle, bloodless conquest, don’t you?”
    “It is, to the degree that you allow it to be.”
    “I was there for the war Duarte started to cover his tracks. I was there for the starving years afterward. Your empire’s hands look a lot cleaner when you get to dictate where history begins and what parts of it don’t count.”
    • Chapter 38 (p. 394)
  • Nothing degraded morale like the sense that the potential for excellence was being denied.
    • Chapter 41 (p. 428)
  • An invisible line in space, unmarked by anything more than what people believed about it. And that was enough.
    • Chapter 42 (p. 430)
  • It’d be a better world if there was always at least one right answer instead of a basket of fucked.
    • Chapter 42 (p. 433)
  • The universe owed her a little slice of luck like that.
    • Chapter 42 (p. 437)
  • Every revolution needed its mad bombers, apparently.
    • Chapter 43 (p. 441)
  • “Ah! I see what you’re doing,” Alex said. “You’re trying to make flying out to Charon and dodging radiation flares sound like a good idea. It’s that whole ‘I’ll put a shitty idea next to a really shitty idea so the first one looks shiny by comparison’ thing.”
    • Chapter 43 (p. 446)
  • “‘The predictable limits of a conceptual framework,’” Bobbie said. A phrase from her classroom on Olympus Mons. “It’s always where to hit the enemy. Whoever they turn out to be. When I learned how to do things like this, we were thinking about Earthers and pirates.”
    Katria laughed. “When I taught myself how to do this, I was thinking of people like you. Strange how the wheel turns.”
    • Chapter 44 (p. 455)
  • Her heart was pounding. Her muscles ached. She’d just killed two of the enemy. There would always be a little something—that tug on her humanity that came from doing violence. There was a satisfaction too. It didn’t mean she was a good woman or a bad one. It meant she was a Marine.
    • Chapter 44 (p. 457)
  • “You think he may be a triple agent?”
    “It wouldn’t be the first time something like that had happened. The one thing you know about someone who’s willing to compromise his allies is that he’s willing to compromise his allies.”
    • Chapter 46 (p. 472)
  • The hardest thing was to trust his own people to do their jobs well, but it was what he had to do. He wondered if the high consul suffered the same thing—knowing that all the critical action would be taken by others who were guided by his orders, but in conditions he could only guess at, and in places where his intervention, even if it were possible, could only muddy the waters. It was a subtle and terrible insight. The powerlessness of control.
    • Chapter 46 (p. 476)
  • It was a day with a lot of ways to die packed in it.
    • Chapter 47 (p. 482)
  • “All right,” Bobbie said. “New orders. Don’t die until I say so.”
    • Chapter 49 (p. 503)
  • He lifted the gun.
    “Wait!” Singh said. “Wait. Do you believe all that? About what killing me is supposed to achieve?”
    “I am an officer of the Laconian Empire, Governor Singh. I believe what I’m told to believe.”
    • Chapter 50 (p. 520)
  • “It’s the reward of old age,” Avasarala said. “You live long enough, and you can watch everything you worked for become irrelevant.”
    “You’re not selling it,” Drummer said.
    “Fuck you, then. Die young. See if I care.”
    • Chapter 51 (p. 529)
  • The fight for survival made everything either resilient or forgotten.
    • Chapter 52 (p. 532)
  • “The founding impulse of Freehold is sticking it to the government.”
    “Loses some of its shine after you get elected.”
    • Chapter 52 (p. 537)
  • Everything changed, and it went right on changing. A terrible thought when things were good, a comforting one now. Whatever happened, she could be certain that things wouldn’t stay the way they were now. And if she stayed smart and clever and lucky, she’d be able to affect how the next change came. Or take advantage of it.
    • Chapter 52 (p. 539)
  • “You’re not picking a fight with the things that made the protomolecule. You’re picking a fight with whatever killed them. Orders of magnitude above the things that were orders of magnitude above us. You’ve got to know this is going to escalate if we keep using these technologies.”
    “We were always going to keep using these technologies. That was inevitable the moment we opened the gates,” Duarte said. “If you’ve studied any history at all, you know that. Never in human history have we discovered something useful and then chosen not to use it.”
    • Epilogue (p. 548)

Tiamat's Wrath (2019)Edit

All page numbers from the hardcover first edition published by Orbit Books ISBN 978-0-316-33287-3, 1st printing
Published in collaboration with Ty Franck under the pseudonym James S. A. Corey
  • The people who have power over you are weak too. They shit and bleed and worry that their children don’t love them anymore. They’re embarrassed by the stupid things they did when they were young that everyone else has forgotten. And so they’re vulnerable. We all define ourselves by the people around us, because that’s the kind of monkey we are. We can’t transcend it. So when they watch you, they hand you the power to change what they are too.
    • Prologue (p. 5)
  • The universe wasn’t just stranger than you knew, it was stranger than you could know.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 11)
  • Pacifism only works when your enemy has a conscience.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 31)
  • There had to have been a moment when this had become the new normal.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 38)
  • Alex worried about that. Jillian was mean as a snake. When he’d told Bobbie that, she’d responded, I just make sure she never runs out of mice. He still didn’t know quite what that meant.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 39)
  • It was like a Chihuahua threatening an office building.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 41)
  • In a fight like this, unless you’re willing to lose everything to win, you lose it all by losing.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 41)
  • “People trust what they already know. Having a new high consul would be difficult under any circumstances, but it would be less difficult if there were a story with it. A succession. I want to train you to be that, if—God forbid—something happened to me.”
    “But why should I be good at it just because you were?” Teresa said. “There’s no reason to think that. That’s dumb.”
    “It is,” her father said. “But it’s a mistake people have made all through history.”
    • Chapter 4 (p. 50)
  • That was somewhere between a guess and a metaphor, but it helped her to think about it.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 54)
  • “Primary mission is fucked, but secondary is a win.”
    “A moral victory, I guess,” Bobbie sighed.
    “You know who talks about moral victories?” Jillian asked as she floated out of the room. “The team that lost.”
    • Chapter 7 (p. 80)
  • Routine was what kept the darkness at bay, when anything did.
    • Chapter 8 (p. 84)
  • That’s the thing about autocracy. It looks pretty decent while it still looks pretty decent. Survivable, anyway. And it keeps looking like that right up until it doesn’t. That’s how you find out it’s too late.
    • Chapter 8 (p. 87)
  • Growing older was a falling away of everything that didn’t matter. And a deepening appreciation of all the parts that were important enough to stay.
    • Chapter 8 (p. 87)
  • “I don’t know what the win look like.”
    “Well, for me, it looks like dying with the knowledge that humanity’s a little bit better off than it would have been if I’d never been born. A little freer. A little kinder. A little smarter. That the bullies and bastards and sadists got their teeth into a few less people because of me. That’s got to be enough.”
    • Chapter 11 (p. 120)
  • Naomi shook her head once, tightly, and held on to her anger like it was a vaccine against something worse.
    • Chapter 13 (pp. 135-136)
  • But all the stories about the devil making a deal and then cheating missed the point. The real horror was that once the bargain was struck, the devil didn’t cheat. He gave you exactly and explicitly all that had been promised.
    And the price was your soul.
    • Chapter 13 (p. 136)
  • “How to achieve a more robust homeostasis. Just because it’s difficult to do doesn’t make the principal science unsolvable.”
    “So not unnatural at all,” Holden said, tipping a little more wine from the bottle into the doctor’s glass.
    “Meaningless term,” Cortázar said. “Humans arose inside nature. We’re natural. Everything we do is natural. The whole idea that we are different in category is either sentimental or religious. Irrelevant from a scientific perspective.”
    “So if we get to a place that we can all live forever, that’s not unnatural? Holden sounded genuinely curious.
    Cortázar leaned in toward the prisoner, gesturing with his left hand while he swirled his glass in his right. “The only limits on us are what we can do. It’s perfectly natural to seek personal benefit. It’s perfectly natural to give advantages to your own offspring and withhold them from others. It’s perfectly natural to kill your enemies. That’s not even outlier behavior. That’s all in the middle of the bell curve all the time.”
    • Chapter 14 (p. 148)
  • “The important thing is that we get good data. One person. Lots of people. All the same. But bad experimental design? That’s what sin really is,” Cortázar slurred. “That’s not me either. Nature eats babies all the time.”
    • Chapter 14 (p. 149)
  • “I feel stupid,” she said. “I really thought we were a scientific mission.”
    “Aren’t we?”
    She pointed one thumb toward the monitor. “That’s not science. ‘Light shit on fire and see what happens’ isn’t science. This is throwing dynamite into a pond to see if any fish float to the top.”
    “So…natural philosophy?”
    “Military bullshit. Solving every problem by trying to blow it up.”
    • Chapter 16 (p. 162)
  • “Sorry,” Bobby said…“I’m pissed at you right now and it’s not your fault.”
    “What can I stop not doin’ so it ain’t my fault anymore?”
    • Chapter 17 (p. 175)
  • What you’re really doing is trying to win back what you’ve lost by going all in. It’s shitty poker, and even worse as a battle strategy.
    • Chapter 17 (pp. 178-179)
  • “Easy to make rules,” Emma said. “Easy to make systems with a perfect logic and rigor. All you need to do is leave out the mercy, yeah? Then when you put people into it and they get chewed to nothing, it’s the person’s fault. Not the rules. Everything we do that’s worth shit, we’ve done with people. Flawed, stupid, lying, rules-breaking people. Laconians making the same mistake as ever. Our rules are good, and they’d work perfectly if it were only a different species.”
    “You sound like someone I know,” Naomi said.
    “I’ll die for that,” Emma said. “I’ll die so that people can be fuckups and still find mercy.”
    • Chapter 18 (p. 184)
  • “We’re all here for our own reasons,” Naomi said. “What they are isn’t as important as the fact that we came.”
    “True,” Emma said.
    Naomi laughed, and it was a hard, bitter sound. “Anyway, I spent too much time already with people telling me they’d shoot me if I didn’t do what they said. That tank’s empty for this lifetime.”
    “May it never refill,” Emma said.
    • Chapter 18 (pp. 184-185)
  • Distributed responsibility is the problem. One person gives the order, another carries it out. One can say they didn’t pull the trigger, the other that they were just doing what they were told, and everyone lets themselves off the hook.
    • Chapter 21 (p. 215)
  • The bar was worse than shitty. Shitty had character. The place was generic. Fake stone meant to echo a tunnel on Ceres or Pallas marked with graffiti to make it look edgy until you noticed that the pattern of it repeated every couple meters. The appearance of counterculture as churned out by a corporate designer.
    • Chapter 24 (p. 241)
  • Duarte was a thoughtful, educated, civilized man and a murderer. He was charming and funny and a little melancholy and, as far as Holden could tell, completely unaware of his own monstrous ambition. Like a religious fanatic, the man really believed that everything he’d done was justified by his goal in doing it.
    • Interlude (pp. 252-253)
  • The woman herself looked down at hem from where she was etched in stone. It was probably just his imagination, but she seemed amused. Like now that she was dead and not actually responsible for fixing any of the vast and secret shit show that was human history, she finally got the joke.
    • Interlude (p. 258)
  • This was the problem with thousand-year Reichs. They came and they went like fireflies.
    • Interlude (p. 259)
  • She was rejoicing and mourning at the same time. And also feeling the deep unease that came from the reminder that being familiar wasn’t the same as being understood.
    • Chapter 25 (p. 262)
  • I’m not sure if dying free is as attractive when it stops being rhetorical.
    • Chapter 25 (p. 264)
  • “I’m sorry,” Elvi said. “Wait. No. I’m actually not. Are you fucking crazy?”
    • Chapter 26 (p. 276)
  • Fashion never stopped. It was one of many things Naomi was pleased that age allowed her not to care about anymore.
    • Chapter 28 (p. 291)
  • It had seemed like a kind of magnanimity at the time. It looked more like necessity now.
    • Chapter 28 (p. 294)
  • That’s what decades of marriage were for. Intimacy and pattern matching as a kind of telepathy.
    • Chapter 29 (p. 303)
  • Evolution was a paste-and-baling-wire process that came up with half-assed solutions like pushing teeth through babies’ gums and menstruation. Survival of the fittest was a technical term that covered a lot more close-enough-is-close-enough than actual design.
    • Chapter 29 (p. 309)
  • I’m going to go obsessively run diagnostics on systems I know are solid so I can feel like I have control of something.
    • Chapter 30 (p. 319)
  • This was stupid.
    It was worse that stupid. It was dishonest.
    • Chapter 31 (p. 328)
  • “Thanks for everything,” she said to the universe, as if it had been at the host of a particularly good party that was just winding down.
    • Chapter 32 (p. 339)
  • Governments exist on confidence. Not on liberty. Not on righteousness. Not on force. They exist because people believe that they do. Because they don’t ask questions.
    • Chapter 34 (p. 357)
  • “Thank you for your time, Doctor. My door is always open to you.”
    It was, she thought, an ironic way to tell her to leave.
    • Chapter 34 (p. 359)
  • All the numberless different solutions that evolution had come up with under all the different stars, and all responding—more or less—to the same pressures. Eyes on every world. Mouths near the sense organs, because things with feeding coordination did better than things without.
    • Chapter 34 (p. 359)
  • Nature was beautiful, wherever she found it. And it was cruel. She didn’t know why she kept expecting humanity to be different. Why she pretended the same rules that applied to mountain lions and parasitic wasps didn’t also constrain her. Red in tooth and claw, and at every level. In the Bible, even angels murdered humanity’s babies when God asked them to.
    • Chapter 34 (p. 359)
  • It was the single central argument that the universe had made to her through her whole life, and she was only now seeing it clearly: Wars never ended because one side was defeated. They ended because the enemies were reconciled. Anything else was just a postponement of the next round of violence.
    • Chapter 35 (p. 367)
  • It was just easier. She understood now why adults lied to children. It wasn’t love. It was exhaustion.
    • Chapter 36 (p. 377)
  • That was the thing about hubris. It only became clear in retrospect.
    • Chapter 42 (p. 432)
  • The chime rang, calling them all to the dining room like the most privileged cattle in the universe.
    • Chapter 45 (p. 462)
  • No one asked after Dr. Cortázar. That, Teresa had come to understand, was one of the unwritten rules. When someone disappears, don’t ask why.
    • Chapter 45 (p. 463)
  • She’d been a different girl then. He’d been a different man. She missed both of them.
    • Chapter 45 (p. 465)
  • Holden’s a decent person. Decent people have trouble with murdering children.
    • Chapter 46 (p. 472)
  • Elvi spent the hours before dawn watching the feeds. As soon as the violence ended, even before the wounded and the dead were sorted, the stories began taking shape. The differences between the state newsfeeds and the security reports Elvi saw in the aftermath made it sound like there had been two different battles.
    • Chapter 50 (p. 515)
  • She had been a pawn in Holden’s chess game. And Holden had gotten her to the last rank and promoted her to a queen.
    • Chapter 50 (p. 520)
  • The universe is always stranger than you think.
    It didn’t matter how broad her imagination was, how cynical, how joyous and open, how well researched or wild minded. The universe was always stranger. Every dream, every imagining, however lavish and improbable, inevitably fell short of the truth.
    • Chapter 50 (p. 522)
  • And if there was one thing that her decades in academic science had drilled into her consciousness, it was that power meant policy.
    • Chapter 50 (p. 522)

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