Ian McDonald

British science fiction novelist

Ian McDonald (born 1960) is a British science fiction novelist.

Ian McDonald

Quotes edit

Short fiction edit

The Tear (2008) edit

  • Only miscalculation could kill you in interstellar war. The equations were hard but they were fair.
    • In Galactic Empires, edited by Gardner Dozois, reprinted in Rich Horton (ed.), The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2009 (p. 506)

The Fifth Dragon (2014) edit

  • The freefall sex? Grossly oversold. Everything moves in all the wrong ways. Things get away from you. You have to strap everything down to get purchase. It’s more like mutual bondage.

Desolation Road (1988) edit

All page numbers from the trade paperback edition published by Pyr
  • “Hey!” the people cried in their dreams. “Give us back our ghosts!” for ghosts are as much a part of a community as its plumbing or its library, for how can a community be without its memories?
    • Chapter 18 (p. 94).
  • These songs were the true names of things, spoken by the soul, so easily buried under the little busynesses of everyman everyday.
    • Chapter 22 (p. 111).
  • It was fate, and being angry at fate was as futile as being angry at the weather.
    • Chapter 23 (p. 116).
  • She knew what she was now. She had a purpose. Freedom was still hers, but it was a purposeful freedom. She would seek responsibility, for freedom without responsibility was worthless, and to that duality she would add power, for responsibility without power was impotence. She would go to Wisdom and enthrone the trinity of liberties within herself.
    • Chapter 31 (p. 162).
  • She had trapped the bird of salvation, sung to it, tamed it and wrung its neck.
    • Chapter 32 (p. 168).
  • The five minutes ticked away on Limaal Mandella’s fob watch and the tension wound tight around Corporation Plaza. Rael Mandella Jr., sweating in his father’s best championship suit, was horrified to realize how few of such brief five-minute periods went to make up a lifetime.
    • Chapter 47 (p. 238).
  • Once muddying subjectivities are removed from the issue, the decision becomes clear.
    • Chapter 49 (p. 247).
  • A chilly piety leaked into the air.
    • Chapter 49 (p. 248).
  • Ghosts? Pah. We are the most substantial things in the world, the foundations of the present. We are memories.
    • Chapter 54 (p. 270).
  • Profit, Empire, Industry. What was a dead lake, a few poisoned rivers, a few slagged hillsides? Priorities, that was what it was about. Priorities and Progress.
    • Chapter 56 (p. 276).
  • She had not won a clean victory. Tinkering with time and history offended her political sensibilities. History was written in the stones. It was not a numinous thing to be tossed sparkling in the air to lie where it fell. She did not like to think of her life and world as a mere mutability of potentials.
    • Chapter 64 (p. 327).

River of Gods (2006) edit

Page numbers refer to the Pyr hardcover first edition, ISBN 1591024366

  • I've always found that the root of a computer problem is human frailty
    • Ch. 2 (p. 27).
  • Half your DNA's owned by some biotech corporation. Every time you have sex, you break copyright.
    • Ch. 5 (p. 58).
  • The laws of economics are subject to the laws of physics. The physical processes that govern this planet and the continued life upon it place as stringent an upper limit on economic growth as the speed of light does on our knowledge of the universe.
    • Ch. 9 (p. 93).
  • "The words still don't move."
    "The words don't need to move. It is you who is moved by them."
    • Ch. 19 (p. 239).
  • His theory of golf is, never play any sport that requires you to dress as your grandfather.
    • Ch. 20 (p. 249).
  • How proud he would have felt [...] to have seen those seeds germinate into a Muslim nation, a Land of the Pure. How it would have broken his heart to see that Land of the Pure become a medieval theocracy and then rip itself apart in tribal factionalism. The Word of God prophecies from the barrel of an AK47.
    • Ch. 37 (p. 411).
  • "This is now a matter of national security, sir."
    "This is Franz Kafka, is what it is."
    Tom Hanks looks at chair-rocker, who writes the name down.
    "He's a Czech writer," Thomas Lull says. "He's been dead a hundred years. I was attempting irony."
    "Sir, please do not attempt irony. This is a most serious issue."
    • Ch. 42 (p. 444).
  • The elephants fight but the rats go about their business.
    • Ch. 44 (p. 458).

The Dervish House (2010) edit

Page numbers refer to the Pyr hardcover first edition, ISBN 9781616142049

  • He has no belief—faith is beneath his dignity—but he enjoys the designed madness of religion.
    • Ch. 1, §5 (p. 21)
  • Economics is the most human of sciences. It is the science of wants and frustrations. It is psychology subject to the abstract, amplifying forces of mathematics.
    • Ch. 2, §8 (p. 72)
  • Legends should stay legends; otherwise they just become history, when the natural course of things is the other way around, from history to legend.
    • Ch. 3, §5 (p. 109)
  • At some point it will inevitably crash again: as weapons of mass destruction go, unrestricted market economies are among the more subtle but sure.
    • Ch. 4, §7 (p. 140)
  • Nationalism, then Islamism, both twentieth-century inventions, destroyed the Greek civilization in Egypt that had endured for three thousand years.
    • Ch. 5, §1 (p. 158)
  • He had sworn on his father's honour, his mother's life, his brother's masculinity, his sister's purity and his prophet's beard that he would never set foot there again. God, knowing people, thinks little of honour or purity or even life, but vows made on his prophet he loves to confound.
    • Ch. 5, §6 (p. 178)
  • The closer they come to the object of desire the more reluctant they are to grasp it. The search is the thing. The process is the purpose. The final mystery can only be anticlimactic. The story is ended.
    • Ch. 6, §2 (p. 207)
  • It was not socialism or communism or Islamism. It was romanticism. There is no more incandescent passion than love in a time of revolution.
    • Ch. 6, §8 (p. 223)
  • Ayşe Erkoç learned long ago that the secret of doing anything illicit in Istanbul is to do it in full public gaze in the clear light of day. No one ever questions the legitimacy of the blatant.
    • Ch. 7, §7 (p. 251).

External links edit