Esther Friesner

American writer

Esther Friesner (born July 16, 1951) is an American science fiction and fantasy author. She is also a poet and playwright.

Esther Friesner, 2006

Quotes edit

Short fiction edit

A Pig's Tale (1995) edit

All page numbers from its original publication in Fantastic Alice (trade paperback edition edited by Margaret Weis).
  • Pigs possess a certain native intelligence and common sense by and large missing from our greater poets. When despair lays its clammy paws across their fevered porcine brows, they do not slump about composing sonnets; they take action.
    • p. 274
  • Accidents happen; clothing does not.
    • p. 275
  • Some people just don't stop to think; they're too busy swallowing nightmares whole.
    • p. 275
  • Time had passed. It will, given half the chance.
    • p. 281
  • There are always miracles where there are children, and fascination for any tale that opens their eyes to marvels, whether or not they are sensible marvels. Even a pig knows that.
    • p. 288

Harlot's Ruse (1986) edit

All page numbers are from the mass market paperback first edition published by the Popular Library (Questar) ISBN 0-445-20208-4
Italics as in the book
  • Sex is like the pursuit of wild mushrooms: Both are fascinating hobbies, both can prove most addictive, and both for the most part yield tasty results.
    And yet, for the novice, there exists always the chance of making that one fatal mistake. Ah, but if one lives, one learns!
    • Prologue (p. 1)
  • Talent is no doxy to follow only where gold jingles. Even in the poorest hovels artists can be born as often as cutpurses.
    • Chapter 1, “Strumpet Voluntary” (p. 13)
  • There is a vast difference between innocence and stupidity.
    • Chapter 1, “Strumpet Voluntary” (p. 23)
  • In for a lamb, in for a ram, as the sheep-stealers say just before we hang them.
    • Chapter 2, “What’s Up, Doxy?” (p. 45)
  • Power can command wealth but wealth can’t always command power.
    • Chapter 2, “What’s Up, Doxy?” (p. 52)
  • Don’t mistake gratitude for love.
    • Chapter 2, “What’s Up, Doxy?” (p. 56)
  • You may hear the priests claim that revenge belongs to the gods and should never be the property of man.
    Leave it to the gods to hog the best bits of life for themselves. When you have your enemies skewered, I think it would be wasteful not to stay and watch them writhe. I would even call it impolite. I value courtesy.
    • Chapter 2, “What’s Up, Doxy?” (p. 69)
  • I think the pampered highborn like the fantasy of equality.
    • Chapter 3, “The Lay of the Last Minstrel” (p. 73)
  • Little ones, if any mortal under the age of ninety ever tells you, “I always learned my lessons the first time, before it was too late,” mark that person well. He lies.
    • Chapter 3, “The Lay of the Last Minstrel” (p. 86)
  • Scratch a minstrel, find a pimp!
    • Chapter 4, “I Cover the Waterfront” (p. 88)
  • I knew the Cardinal Rule of Experiments from Master Urion’s house: The wise mage never tampers with the order of things unless his circumstances are such that the worst possible result of the experiment will be no more disastrous than not performing the experiment at all.
    • Chapter 5, “Doxy and Cream Cheese to Go” (p. 114)
  • Monkeys and mortals are attracted to sparkly things. What makes us different from the apes is that we sometimes crack the shiny shell and see there’s nothing inside.
    • Chapter 7, “Demon-strations of Affection” (p. 156)
  • If we could all pick our fathers there might be ten men on earth who would have families.
    • Chapter 8, “Heterodoxy” (p. 167)
  • Children, the gods call us when they choose, but not even the priests are eager to answer.
    • Chapter 8, “Heterodoxy” (p. 177)
  • Better a live whore than a dead virgin!
    • Chapter 9, “Slut Racing” (p. 196)
  • “I won’t do it,” said Barti.
    “Then we’ll kill you,” replied Aliska, who had grasped the fundamentals of religious debate pretty quickly.
    • Chapter 10, “Orthodoxy” (p. 213)
  • Dignity and self-assurance are everything to a woman, especially a naked one.
    • Chapter 11, “Award of Meretrix” (p. 245)
  • For magic wears a thousand masks, but love is magic of its own and wears a myriad more.
    • Chapter 12, “Bawd Rate” (p. 296)

Demons edit

Here Be Demons (1988) edit

All page numbers are from the mass market paperback first edition published by Ace ISBN 0-441-32797-4
  • When the majority is crazy, the sane ones are kept in asylums. She knew that well; she’d majored in World History.
    • Part 2, Chapter 4, “Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press” (p. 94)
  • Melisan frowned and informed her leader that politics was the answer to every demon’s fondest dreams. Politics, she said, meant less work for Mother. It covered all the bases when it came to the Seven Top Deadly Sins.
    “You get a minor political conflict, like, say, an argument over candidates at a cocktail party,” said Melisan, who only knew about such gatherings from Murakh, “and right away you generate a whole room full of Wrath. Then you move on to elections, and you get the bunch that won’t vote at all because they don’t like either candidate and besides, they figure one vote’s not important.”
    “Ahhh,” sighed Horgist, eyes moist with yearning. “Sloth!”
    “Exactly, my love. Then someone wins the election, and you’ve got the ones who voted for him swelled with pride and the ones who didn’t consumed with Envy. Avarice, Lechery, and Gluttony come after he’s in office, and that’s just what happens in a minor political situation! When you’ve got Avarice and Gluttony working on the grand, international scale, you’ve got the way paved for all-out war, and when what they call National Pride shows up, you’ve got guaranteed Gehenna.”
    • Part 2, Chapter 6, “Our Brothers in Science” (pp. 124-125)
  • Innocence is only a matter of not being able to believe in a possibility you can’t imagine.
    • Part 2, Chapter 6, “Our Brothers in Science” (p. 130)
  • Faith gagged again, in earnest. Amanda had let her to believe that she was anything but pure, purity no longer being the fashion. Yet here was Geordie, carrying on over her in a style that was popular in the Middle Ages, when you had to adore your lady from afar because if you did it from anear, you’d get her Daddy’s sword in your belly.
    • Part 2, Chapter 7, “When We Last Left Our Hero…” (p. 135)
  • Hell is full of incompetent rebels.
    • Part 2, Chapter 8, “Once, or Maybe Twice, in a Lifetime” (p. 144)
  • Few hearts are brave enough to stand between old newspapermen and their liquor. Fewer still would defy the thirsty hordes of the electronic media.
    • Part 2, Chapter 9, “Heads Will Roll” (p. 155)
  • Amanda gave him the freeze, too. The blue demon hesitated, unsure of whether this snub was a rejection of his leadership or his dubious social standing. There were only a few demons in Debrett’s.
    • Part 3, Chapter 2, “What Place is This?” (p. 168)
  • Possession was nine-tenths of the law, and the stray tenth was self-possession.
    • Part 3, Chapter 2, “What Place is This?” (p. 187)
  • Someone should either make the rewards of good better or the punishment of evil worse. Poor planning on a grand scale, I call it. Nothing but poor planning.
    • Part 3, Chapter 3, “Down in the Valley” (p. 203)
  • The wind had blown since before time had a name and it would blow until time lost all meaning. It blew the dwindling sands of the desert across the encroaching greenness of the fields and forests, past the teeming cities with their needle spires, silver in the glaring sun. It sang a dirge for all the waste that once stretched past the edge of imagination, and it moaned a lament for all who wandered, lost and outcast and alone.
    • Epilogue (p. 233)

Demon Blues (1989) edit

All page numbers are from the mass market paperback first edition published by Ace ISBN 0-441-14309-1
Italics as in the book; spelling of the chapter titles per the book
  • Satanism? In Whitman?
    “Mmm-hmm.” She threaded her arm through his. “You can find Satanism in everything if you’ve got the right sort of mind and you look hard enough.”
    • Chapter 2, “Behind Every Great Man” (p. 31)
  • Like many a freshman with dangerous leanings toward the Humanities, Noel circled the topic of choosing a major cautiously, occasionally poking it with a stick to see which way it lunged and which way he should jump to avoid it.
    • Chapter 3, “Fresh Air and Filthy Minds” (p. 33)
  • “This—this guy is dead now, right?”
    Marguerite shrugged. “Death is such a fragile thing. Who knows? I’ve heard rumors, but you can’t depend on anything these days. The greatest wizards of antiquity turn up with less warning than Hamptons houseguests.”
    • Chapter 5, “Perhaps Rolfing Would Help” (p. 50)
  • Adulthood is not just gauged by years survived. An adult is able to act independently, to resist manipulation, to make his own decisions. And to take the consequences.
    • Chapter 5, “Perhaps Rolfing Would Help” (p. 54)
  • “I’m not a Freudian.” Dr. Fitzgerald pronounced the word as if it were axe-murderer.
    • Chapter 5, “Perhaps Rolfing Would Help” (p. 55)
  • Listen, Noel, I don’t believe in the occult—not the dime store demonism all the right people are barking about. They see devils everywhere but in the mirror, and they raise such a hunting howl about it that they distract attention from the real evils. What I do believe is that there are great powers walking this world—forces for true good, forces for evil we can’t begin to imagine. Too many of the small-souled can only feel good by proving how bad everyone else is. They find it easier to turn a searchlight on some imaginary wickedness outside than to strike a single inner spark that might show them their own hearts.
    • Chapter 6, “A Wizard is a Sometime Thing” (pp. 65-66)
  • Yesterday’s sin is today’s trendy must-do.
    • Chapter 8, “User Fiendly” (p. 83)
  • A high-handed air of command was one of the first symptoms of increasing power-hunger.
    • Chapter 9, “Cacodemons Are Standing By” (p. 88)
  • “You don’t have to go by anyone’s rules but your own. Everything about you is special. The only trouble is, no one but you ever seems to see it that way.”
    “I don’t think I like your attitude.”
    “I don’t think I care.”
    • Chapter 12, “Souvenir of the Crusades; Wish You Were Here” (p. 126)
  • He did not know the proper name by which to call preshrunk designer jeans, yet if left to his own lexical devices, he would name them Paradise. Like many another man of faith, he yearned for entry thereto.
    • Chapter 16, “Certes, These Be Parlous Times Fer Sherrr” (p. 159)
  • Don’t try weaseling through too many loopholes or one of them could turn into a noose.
    • Chapter 26, “Battle Royal” (p. 253)
  • “Come on, Noel, you know me. You know how I feel about books. Do you think I’d ever willfully destroy one? Ten? Hundreds? A whole library full?”
    “You wouldn’t,” Noel agreed. “But those friends of yours are straight out of the Dark Ages. Who knows what they’d do?”
    “They’d tell you what made the Dark Ages so damn dark was not enough books, that’s what they do.” Roger stuck out his chin. “They know what they owe to books more than a lot of the sitcom slaves out there. They know you can’t solve any problem in thirty minutes, less commercial breaks. They know that the past wasn’t perfect but they also know how to look through the histories for past mistakes so they’ll recognize them if they come around again. They’ll do a lot of things, but they won’t hurt books.”
    • Chapter 26, “Battle Royal” (p. 255)

Hooray for Hellywood (1990) edit

All page numbers are from the mass market paperback first edition published by Ace ISBN 0-441-34281-7
Italics as in the book
  • It was an edifice that combined high tech and low taste to an astonishing degree.
    • Chapter 3, “No Business Like…” (p. 23)
  • The shortest way to multiply damnations is to divide mortals. Fear’s a great one for that—fear the stranger, fear the different, fear the afflicted—long as you can keep your pigeons so damn scared there’s no room in them to even try to figure out whether there’s anything real to be scared of in the first place.
    • Chapter 5, “Teen Angel” (p. 38)
  • “What is it about L.A.?”
    “The Great Cosmic Belly Button that attracteth the spiritual lint of the universe,” Faith replied.
    • Chapter 6, “Auld Lang Sin” (p. 45)
  • His salvation flunkies. Mouthing off a hundred and one misapplied Biblical justifications a minute for why they can split heads, kick butt, and burn anything or anyone who tells them No. They are still going to Heaven. They’ll be the only ones there, but what the hey!
    • Chapter 20, “Angel of the Morning” (p. 161)
  • Growing up’s not something that just happens south of your belt buckle. It’s opening your eyes and taking on the nightmares yourself, without calling for Mommy or Daddy or even God. It’s facing down evil, even when you know it might be the last thing you ever do.
    • Chapter 20, “Angel of the Morning” (p. 162)
  • Have lunch. It wasn’t anywhere near noon, but for food like this, they weren’t about to quibble. Suddenly the idea of going forth and smiting the heathen didn’t seem that attractive. Life is too short and sweet to waste it bludgeoning your brother into accepting your way of seeing Heaven.
    • Chapter 21, “Living Hell is the Best Revenge” (p. 181)
  • Raleel let his head tilt back as he filled his nostrils with the satisfying reek of small hearts and mouldering souls. Selfish greed for their own salvation pulsed from those fifteen in waves he could almost touch, and damnation take anyone who dared to stand between them and the Heaven for which only they were good enough.
    • Chapter 22, “The patience of a Saint” (p. 185)
  • The winter of ignorance could come, the cold stoked by a thousand bonfires. There would always be loveless souls ready to kindle such blazes with their neighbors’ books, or dreams, or children.
    • Chapter 24, “Chain Gang” (p. 206)

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